18 August 2010

Is Toilet Paper a Necessity?

Do you have a weekly grocery budget that includes toilet paper,
facial tisssue and paper towels?
Are you as tired as I am of the rising cost of paper products
eroding what is left of your budget for actual food?

Does it annoy you that toilet paper, that almighty "necessity"
is actually something that you use once for hygenic properties
and then flush.....never (hopefully) to be seen again?

Does that seem a lot like just flushing
your hard-earned and not-so-plentiful-dollars down the toilet?

I thought so, too!
So, several years ago I began searching for viable alternatives.

In my lifetime, I have never used anything but toilet paper,
save the rare situation when I was caught unprepared in the wilds
and had to use whatever I could find.

Two alternatives that quickly came to mind
included things I'd heard about since I was a kid.
Folks always joked about using corn cobs for 'doing business'...
and I remember my parents telling stories from their childhood
of always having an old Sears & Roebuck catalog handy in the outhouse.
Mom said they always used the black and white pages first,
as they were softer when crumpled,
and she always dreaded when they were gone
and they had to use up the crisper color-printed pages.

Corn cobs just don't appeal to me,
and we don't get a Sears & Roebuck catalog any more.
(even if we did, I trust my mom's judgement...
I don't even consider those crispy,
all color pages to be any kind of an alternative!)

But I did consider using the pages from an old phonebook.
Then I remembered that we are still using a flush toilet
and have a septic system, and somehow I don't think
stuffing yellow-pages down there would work very well
or keep me in the-Man-of-the-Place's good graces.

So I went on-line to see if I could find any other creative alternatives.
I finally came across an article (which I can no longer find or I would give a link)
that made mention of a very simple alternative.
I quickly emailed the author requesting more information.
He was a physician who was born and raised in another country and culture,
and he kindly answered my many questions.

Basically, millions of people in many parts of the world do not have the access
to paper hygiene products that we do here,
and even if they did they could not afford them.
But they have a basic, simple way to take care of 'business'.
Whether the toilet is a squat style or western bowl type,
you can easily clean up with simple soap and water.

After 'toileting', have a container handy that has
some sort of place on it with which you can fairly accurately aim a stream,
(such as a small pitcher, or a freezer container with square corners)
as well as a source of water, either a sink, spigot or bucket of water.
Fill the container with clean water and have it handy.
Wet your hand (the non-dominant one for those who are squeamish
or have questionable handwashing practices)
with water and then get some soap on it,
and use that hand to clean where the sun don't shine.
With your dominant hand, pick up the water container and aim the stream
at the part(s) you just cleaned, and rinse them and your soapy hand very well.
Grab the washcloth or small towel you have handy
and dry things off.

Next is an important tip for continuing good health:
Wash both your hands very well with soap and water!

Now, don't you feel all fresh and clean?
Once you try this enough to become proficient at it,
you will be amazed that you spent your entire life using yucky toilet paper.
Toilet paper just doesn't get you clean the way soap and water does.

And just think how much money you'll save!

All the gear you'll need for your new hygiene habits fit nicely on a small shelf
or in a little drawer. Just make sure they are conveniently located.

And don't be afraid to experiment.
The equipment above belongs to me.
The-Man-of-the-Place had his own preferences.

He likes to use a plastic water bottle with a special fitting he put in it
called a "nutted ninety." He ran across it in his previous line of work
and isn't sure if it could be purchased in a hardware store or not.

Expirement. Find what works for you.
And loosen up, laugh at yourself a little.
We're all in this together!

If you decide to give up the toilet paper habit,
and extra perk is needing less shelf space for all those disposables.

I love the extra "white space" in my cupboards,
and I love making my grocery budget stretch further.

We find it very satisfying to know that we don't need
to rush to the store in a panic next time it is announced
in the media that there is a shortage of TP in the local stores.
By keeping a year's supply of bar soap in the pantry,
We have the calm security of knowing we have what we need already at home,
and we know how to use it!

Downsizing doesn't need to be painful.
In fact, it can be really fun!


  1. Nice article. We have used old rags when we have ran out of TP once in a while. I think I'll still use cheap TP. lol Way to try new things. You are more courageous in this area than I am.

  2. It does require one to overcome culturally induced squeamishness---but it helps to find some perspective. A long time ago I worked in an old folk's home before it was mandatory to supply gloves to employees and all we had to use for diaper changes was soap and water on washcloths, and then you washed your hands really good. I suffered no ill effects. (I DID learn to wash my hands and nails really good though!!) And then I became a mom, and can't tell you how many poopy diapers I've changed without gloves.....once again, good handwashing is the key.