Well, since I posted a little something about cloth toilet paper (TP) a few days ago, I keep hearing about cloth TP around the blog world. Those who are already doing it, those who contemplate it, and those who hate the idea.

Let me tell you about my experience which made me think about cloth. About a year ago, I first heard the term “peak oil.” My spouse was in Northern Minnesota doing pathology research. I was in southern Minnesota. We would email one another many times a day. I asked him what he thought of peak oil. We each thought – oh well, we won’t be able to drive. I then found Life After the Oil Crash and realized that almost everything in our lives depends on that oozy black substance called oil.

My first response was to want to stock up on absolutely everything pertinant to our lives. This included TP. Then I thought – what happens when a 20 year supply of TP runs out? Okay – my idea to stockpile was not a good idea. I would have to learn how to grow and make things. I would have to think about how things are created (including grown) to become another item. This includes TP. So, I thought about what people have done historically for TP? I mean, come on, we have the book “Everyone Poops.” We know everyone does it.

In ancient Rome, the popular item was a sponge attached to the end of a stick immersed in salt water. Eskimos- used tundra moss when available in the summer months, and handfuls of snow during the winter. Those living in coastal areas or tropical settings used mussel shells or old coconut shells, those living in the colonial times of America, when farming consisted of 75% of the U.S. practicing workforce used cobs of corn, or hung paper products in the form of mail order catalogs. Many societies in the Eastern parts of the world saw it socially correct to use their left hand. ( The History of Toilet Paper) In some cultures a little squirt bottle of water and air drying goes a long way…..

Sheryl Crow recently made headline jokes for the suggestion that a person limits the number of squares of TP that is used in a… er… sitting. She suggested this due to virgin forests being destroyed to make toilet paper. (not to mention the energy that is consumed in the making of pulp, paper, packaging, etc).
Cloth toilet paper can be sewn in sheets larger than Sheryl Crow’s one square rule – it can be made out of discarded material (I have old flannel sheets that I may turn into TP). No need to stockpile 20 years worth (I wonder how much space that would take), and I would no longer have to spend part of my $1000/year allotment on TP. Conventional TP for a large family would literally mean flushing money down the toilet.

It imagine it would be easy to use for pee. But what about poop? “ewwww – gross,” I said it for you ;) I imagine that “wet ones” could be supplied or even a bottle of baby wipe solution could be used to aid. Or- one could start with using cloth for pee and conventional TP for poop. Yes – keep conventional TP available for the occasional visitor.

There are many reasons to turn away from conventional toilet paper – it is unsustainable, non-renewable, non-reusable – and it will run out. I think I will sew some just in case I decide I want or need to use them.