(This post could easily be alternately titled, "In Which I Lose Half of My Readership and My Family and Friends Begin the Process of Disowning Me . . .")
Yesterday, I shared four of my five goals for this year's Ditch the Disposables Challenge. The fifth goal I am undertaking is a return to a natural living practice I tried a few years ago but didn't keep up with: using family cloth (cloth wipes in the bathroom).
When I first read of people using family cloth, I sort of filed it in the "Extreme Crunchiness - Fine For Others, Not For Me" file in my brain. Cloth diapering I could handle. Cloth wipes for my baby - it just made sense. Cloth wipes for myself? ICK. And WHY?
But there was something about the concept that I kept returning to, particularly once Dacey grew into toddlerhood and her diaper clean-up began to more closely resemble grown-up bathroom clean-up.
What would be the difference, really, in using cloth wipes on her and using cloth wipes for myself?
There is a definite ick factor to cloth diapering a toddler, but I had grown desensitized to that process. Maybe, just possibly, it wouldn't be as icky as I thought to try it for myself?
(It's worth noting that Kyle's response to this idea was "Gross. No. No way." followed by a sigh of resignation and some mumbling that sounded an awful lot like, "When I married you, I had no idea . . .")
One day, I decided to just go for it. I took a stack of cloth wipes in the bathroom and decided to just start with using them for #1. At first, it felt like I was doing something I was probably going to get in trouble for. You know what I mean? Like when you are a kid and you find yourself stranded on the toilet with no toilet paper, no one is home to fetch a new roll for you, and so you grab a washcloth to clean up and then hurry and hide the used washcloth deep in a pile of dirty laundry? Or better yet, wash it before Mother gets back? Yeah, it felt like that.
But also? It felt kind of nice. Gentle. Thorough.
(In case you hadn't picked up on this, we are about to embark into some Serious Overshare Territory. Just wanted to prepare you for that so you can click away if the need arises.)
So as I grew a little more confident that I wasn't going to get in trouble with anyone for doing this, I decided to try it after #2. I wet the wipe in the sink first, and again, I found it to be quite gentle and thorough. Much more thorough than paper.
I think we can leave off with any further details, right?
So. I just threw my used wipes in with the diaper laundry and that was that.
Somehow at some point in the past year or so, I stopped using family cloth. But now that all four people in our family are using the potty on a full-time basis, our toilet paper usage has skyrocketed. I mean, we go through so much toilet paper. Again, because of Amy's challenge, I think this is the right time to take up this practice again. Here are three reasons why:
1. Family Cloth is frugal.
Obviously. It's reusable and anything reusable is going to cost less than that which you use and throw away (or flush, as the case may be).
2. Family Cloth is earth friendly.
Do you know why toilet paper - a paper product - is white? Chlorine bleach, my friends. This article, "So Why Is Toilet Paper White Anyway" from The Green Toilet goes into detail on how and why this bleaching of toilet paper is unkind and harsh for this planet created for us.
3. Family Cloth is more effective and just feels more gentle.
I'm sure the vast majority of you are, at this point, saying, "Well, I'm just going to have to take your word on that." That's cool. Just like cloth diapering, using family cloth is not for everyone. But if you do give it a try, I think you'll see what I mean. Because of the very nature of toilet paper (designed to break down in sewage systems), it just isn't all that sturdy. And it's certainly not soft. Even the softest soft created by Charmin cannot compare to the softness of a nice flannel or velour wipe. I'm sorry - it just doesn't.
These are three reasons why I use family cloth for myself and the girls (Kyle still happily abstains. And sighs and mutters sometimes, too.) I'm planning a follow-up post to go into more hows and whys - what questions or comments do you have that I can address?
photo by tracitodd