Five years ago I began to discover a whole new way of living. It’s a way of living that contributes to the health of the planet as well as my own health. It involves thinking about the life cycle of everything I buy. It makes me happy and I feel clean.
When considering purchases, I ask myself these 4 basic questions:
- What raw materials went into the production of this item? (Renewable? Recycled?)
- How much non-renewable energy was used in the transportation of the raw materials? (Did stuff have to be shipped across the planet?)
- How much pollution was created in the production of this item?
- How much non-biodegradable waste is created by its packaging or in the materials its made from?
One of the many satisfying and happiness creating things I’ve done is to find ways to use as little paper as possible in everyday life. A very wasteful thing that we modern humans do is create single use sheets of paper. Here’s a sad fact: Toilet paper wipes out 27,000 trees a day. Not to mention the billions of gallons of water used to produce paper, plus the chemicals required in paper manufacturing, plus the non-renewable energy needed to fuel the machinery.
Here are 9 ways I’ve reduced paper usage:
- Switched from paper towels to rags.
- Switched from paper tissues to fabric handkerchiefs. I carry a sweet set of handkerchiefs around with me at all times. A set ensures I don’t have to reuse a soggy one in public.
- Cut up ‘waste’ paper and use it for notes, messages, etc instead of buying a notepad.
- Use fabric napkins instead of paper ones.
- Opt in to paperless bills and invoices.
- Use fabric or other creative ideas to wrap Christmas and birthday gifts.
- Eliminate magazine subscriptions – magazines are available at many libraries and some even have free magazine bins.
- Opt out of junk mail.
- Switched from toilet paper to cloth wipes. (!!!!) The most important step in this switch was to first install a bidet attachment (you can watch the installation here.) Although there are many people who use this method but don’t have a bidet.
People often bring up that in switching from paper items to fabric, we end up using water and power to wash them. This is true, but it still uses less water and non-renewable energy than what goes into production of paper products. Plus I can choose to use biodegradable laundry soap. And millions of trees are saved!
It took some time for the idea of no-toilet-paper to settle into my brain. But I investigated the various ways that some people are already doing it. Some prefer to use fabric just for Number One and still use paper for Number Two. Of course hygiene is an issue. So how to deal with it? Use a plastic tub or bucket with a lid – keep it filled with soapy water (and/or vinegar and/or hydrogen peroxide) and deposit the used cloths into the tub. When full, place the tub’s contents in a separate wash. You could also have two separate soaking buckets for Number One cloths and Number Two cloths.
I’ve heard it takes time to convince some husbands to make the switch and in some cases, it may never happen my friend.
Now, onto the organic linen handkerchiefs…..a.k.a. organic linen toilet paper….a.k.a. organic linen baby wipes….or any other use you can find for them.
In my search for pretty cloths, I discovered the online company, Life-Giving Linen. I am not affiliated with the company Life-Giving Linen in any way. I just discovered them, admire their ethics and love their products. Melanie Ellison, the company owner, was generous enough to gift a set of their lovely linen wipes for a giveaway. The Life-giving Linen squares are pretty and neat.
According to the Life-Giving Linen website, linen possesses healing qualities as well as some other impressive traits.
- Is antibacterial
- Is hypoallergenic (recommended for sensitive skin)
- Doesn’t accumulate static electricity
- Causes 1.5x less perspiration than cotton
- Reduces solar gamma radiation
- Is 20% more absorbant than cotton (ideal for feminine products)
- Requires 5x less fertilizers and pesticides to grow than cotton
After trying the Life-Giving Linen cloths, I declare them wonderful! They are gentle on the skin and easy to wash.
For washing, the company recommends the following: People can wash the linen wipes any way they want, but if they want them to last the longest, then gentle cycle, line dry is best. It is by far best not to use any bleach, which is a toxic chemical and also weakens fabric. A brief treatment in hydrogen peroxide can help with stains, or sun bleach is the best (simply leaving the wipes to dry in the sun after washing does wonders on stains—ask any mom who uses cloth diapers)!
Life-Giving Linen also sells organic linen bedding, underwear, fabric, feminine pads, and baby stuff!