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Would you forego cloth wipes for toilet paper?

Posted by CDB Guest on 12/9/2009 to Green Living

In TIME's 2009 Best & Worst Lists Dan Fletcher listed reusable cloth toilet wipes as one of the Top 10 Odd Environmental Ideas. According to Fletcher, "Environmental experts recently called toilet paper 'one of the greatest excesses of our age,' leading to suggestions that Americans adopt reusable cloth toilet wipes as an environmentally friendly alternative."

There was a time when I would have run screaming at even the suggestion to wipe my extremities with anything other than toilet paper; that was about the same time I scoffed at the idea of cloth diapers as something of the past - suitable for 3rd world countries maybe, but NEVER the progressive, modern mother of the new millenium!

My, my, my I have come a long way.

For the record, I do not use reusable toilet wipes, but before you feel too comfortable, I did try it out. Oh yes, I did. My husband was away at an Army training and I thought "Why not!" It was about 6 months into cloth diapering my second child and I stacked a few dozen cloth baby wipes on the back of my commode, pulled in an extra lidded diaper pail, and set to it. Once I got past the immediate horror of soiling pretty cloth wipes, I rather liked it. It was soft (der) and cozy…I daresay I used the restroom more often than before. Since I already used cloth pads for my menstrual cycle, and cloth wipes on my daughter, it didn't feel like a huge stretch.

But then my husband returned home and promptly purchased a year's supply of 2-ply Angel Soft toilet paper and the environmental experiment was over. Come to think of it, I'm kinda glad I never had to deal with HIS reusable cloth toilet wipes.

Apparently Americans consume quite a bit of toilet paper.

Fletcher writes, "But what's good for the tush isn't good for the environment - soft toilet paper doesn't contain any recycled material and is often made from old-growth forests." He went on to say that "A waste expert called soft toilet paper 'a lot worse than driving a Hummer' in terms of environmental impact." OUCH!

The environmentally friendly solution is to use reusable toilet wipes. That's right - cloth. While it does involve storing and washing soiled cloth wipes, it doesn't kill any trees and can save a good deal of money (depending on how/what you wash them in).

So what do you say? Do you think you'll act on the suggestion of waste experts and begin wiping your bum with your baby's cloth baby wipes, or do you agree with Fletcher of TIME and rate it right up there with the stapleless stapler and urine batteries as a "slightly offbeat way to save the environment"?