I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Family Cloth, aka Reusable Toilet Paper (yup, really)

Do you use toilet paper on a newborns butt? Why not?

Is it because newborns have especially tender tushies? Maybe. Is it because toilet paper is really rough? Maybe. Is it because newborns sit in their "output" exposing sensitive skin to harsh substances? Could be. It's probably all of the above. But the fact is, I have never met a soul who used paper on their baby's butt, from birth until potty training, and not even then in some instances.

So why do we use paper? Well, I guess the answer could seem obvious. Paper can be used once, and flushed away. It couldn't be simpler. And the idea of having to use something that then needs to be stored (ugh) and then cleaned (double ugh)? Preposterous!

Or is it?

Maybe a little pros and cons thinking is in order here.

Toilet Paper:


Single use
Relatively inexpensive
Available everywhere


Costs money
Runs out
Rough on the skin/contains harsh chemicals

Family Cloth:


No lint
Never runs out (as long as they are cleaned frequently)
Can cost nothing


Need to be stored and cleaned
Possible initial cost

This is just the stuff I've come up with off the top of my head. I'm heading to the internet to do a little research...

Toilet Paper...

This website lists the added benefits for toilet paper: Easily disposable, Avoids direct skin contact, Decoration (some folks like to get fancy with the end of the t.p.), and Luxury (colors, patterns, additives such as aloe, medications or scents)

This website states that toilet paper is made using BPA and BPS. From the website, "BPA has estrogen-like effects on the body, acting as an endocrine disruptor and interrupting our hormonal signals. It has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, thyroid dysfunction, obesity and birth defects." This ingredient has been replaced, according to this article, with BPS, which also allegedly has estrogen-like effects. Yummy! According to this report, recycled TP (that is, TP made from recycled paper) can actually be more contaminated with this stuff, and recommends TP made from virgin pulp. Screw the environment. (Alas) 

Ok, let's see what we can find out about Family Cloth...

This blogger lists a number of benefits of using family cloth, including "It's free, Never run out, No lugging home large packages of TP, Gets you cleaner, It's green, No clogged Toilets..." and others. 

This blogger feels that she can't get as dry using cloth. She also was beyond despair when she accidentally dropped the cloth into the toilet and had to go fishing for it. (ew) 

If you're like me, any concept so different what we've become accustomed to is going to take some time to adjust to thinking about, let alone trying. I have replaced paper products with cloth in every other area of my home. Paper towels, dinner napkins, nose cloths, cleaning cloths, even products for that time of the month. (That one took a long time to even enter my head as a thought, it was so repelling. Even longer to become an idea. But once I switched I never looked back. I wondered, in fact, what took me so long.) So why not toilet paper? The fact of the matter is that I still have the drawer full of cloth diapering cloths I used on my kids, and still use them to help my child out when necessary. 

So I decided to give it a go. It so happens that I have a room full of fabric to play around with, as I happen to enjoy sewing. But it would also be easy, as others on the net have pointed out, to cut up old flannel sheets, knit t-shirts, whatever you have. Or you can go to websites like Etsy (you must register but it's free) or others and purchase them. (Etsy is all hand-made) I grabbed some knit fabric (someone online noted it as a favorite for comfort) and started cutting out 7"x7" squares. One of my kids caught me in the act and asked if she could cut them for me. Absolutely. =) She cut out a bunch (maybe 20?) and I placed them in 2 bathrooms. The children are not, at this point, terribly interested in my experiment, which is fine. 

My initial findings: I have been using the cloth squares since yesterday evening. My first thought was that yes, one does feel the damp when using the cloth as is. I was not enjoying that, so I have been double folding them since. Ok, that is better. It makes for a much smaller square, obviously, but for #1 (which is all I'm trying this with for the moment) it works ok. The cloth does not absorb as quickly as TP does. Of course TP soaks up fluid like a dry sponge. So you have to be ever so slightly more patient. No biggie. But I might experiment with different types of cloth. I'm wondering what French terry would be like. (ooh lala) The cloths are, without question, softer than TP. Now I will note here that I am not one of those who spends more to get that super soft, 5 sheets per roll TP. I buy the single layer, 1000 sheets per roll type. Not luxury TP, but it lasts longer, and like many of you, I'm on a budget. So..... I'm gonna keep it up for a bit, and see how it goes. I know me, and I know that if I get lazy and run out of them, I'll default back to TP until they become restocked. But with a big enough stock of them, in every bathroom, that should not be an issue.

So, have you experimented with Family Cloth? Would you be willing to share your thoughts? Enquiring minds! 

Update: I am here to admit that using family cloth lasted me approximately 1/2 of a day. The main issue? My cloths are not absorbent. Why I do not know. But I quickly got tired of getting wet where I wanted to be dry, and not dry enough where I needed that. So I started to cheat with TP. And quickly I wasn't bothering with the cloths. I think the next trial, and I will give it a go again, will be to try different fabrics for my cloths. But this will definitely be a gradual switch-over, if at all. For the sake of all the "good" reasons to do so, I'd like to switch over. But so far it's not love. I'll let ya know...

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