Budget,  COVID-19,  Zero Waste

Sustainable bums: how to avoid the toilet paper crisis

Newsflash: our bottoms pre-date the existence of modern toilet paper.  Want to avoid bog-roll FOMO?  Make your own sustainable, gentler on the bum, wee wipes.


I’m a little fired up this morning.

I’ve just been shopping at my local supermarket and I was surprised to discover an entire aisle that had been stripped of toilet paper, paper hand towels and tissues.  I live in a small country town hundreds of kilometres from a coronavirus case and the locals are no-nonsense resilient folk who are not remotely phased by it.  We are a community not panicking about how we are going to wipe our own bums.

My town has a small supermarket which is the only supermarket for 25 kilometres and it services a community that includes many people who do not have access to a vehicle and who live well below the poverty line.  When people can get to the shops they need to be able to purchase the items they came in for.  And, yes, that includes the occasional roll of toilet paper.

Panic buying causing serious problems for some of Australia’s most vulnerable people

The worst thing about the situation at my local, rural, supermarket is that people are driving hundreds of kilometres to strip the shelves and deprive the local community of this, the most humblest of items.

My country town is situated on a major highway and my supermarket staff know exactly who are locals and who are not.  In a country town you get to know your supermarket staff as you get a wonderful side order of local news with your cat food, bread and milk.  All the locals I spoke to this morning thought the panic over bog roll was absurd.  This is a town that can wipe it’s bum on gum leaves and newspapers when required, thank you very much.  So, when the staff told me that someone drove from a town over 200 kilometres away to purchase toilet paper I was amused to begin with and then, when reality set in, a little snippy on behalf of those who can’t get the supplies they need.

History Of Toilet Paper

My clean wee wipes ready for use in an upcycled microwave container which sits on top of my toilet. The loo roll normally lives in a cupboard (as I change the roll so rarely) and is only out to show what brand of loo roll I use.

Thankfully, I am not remotely concerned about wiping my own bum and I will not have to resort to either gum leaves or newspaper.  For many months I have been wiping away my wee with fluffy flannelette.  Take that, three-ply.

I wipe away my wee with home made reusable wee wipes, toilet towels, pee rags or whatever you wish to call them.  This wasn’t driven by any kind of toilet roll supply crisis.  It was driven by what I’m calling ‘flush-factor’.  My community has been on level five water restrictions for months.  We have been encouraged to only flush the toilet for faecal material (something I’ve been doing for years) but this creates the problem of residual urine-soaked toilet paper waste.  You don’t want to end up with a toilet bowl full of macerated toilet paper which could block your drain.

Related post: using urine in the garden

I have been very careful about composting urine-soaked toilet paper as, even though urine is sterile, I wanted to ensure I didn’t introduce E. coli into my garden system.  I have one separate large pot of fledgling snapdragons (non-edible) quarantined from my edibles which is quietly composting my old toilet paper (pre-wee wipes) thanks to the tireless efforts of my composting worms.  I didn’t want to continue doing this as I prefer using my pots for edibles.

The return of toilet towels: can we get over ‘the yuck factor’?

My wee basket. For the squeamish, you can’t even tell they’ve been used.

You don’t need anything fancy to wipe away your wee.  I ran out of loo roll several years ago after my initial injury (from which I then developed CRPS) as I was housebound and unable to get out to go shopping.  I dipped into my clean rag pile (used for household cleaning) and used these until I was able to get a supermarket delivery organised.  Now I use flannelette wipes which I have hand sewn from an old pair of pyjamas.  They are all different shapes and sizes.  Every now and then I’ll get out my sewing and knock up a few to use.  I don’t make them too large as I’m only dabbing at wee and not scrubbing my entire genital area.  From the same material I’ve created smaller reusable flannelette face wipes for make up removal.

This toilet paper roll has been in use for eight days.

I have a plastic waste paper basket by the toilet which air dries the wipes before they are washed.  They don’t smell.  Once a week I do a hot wash and wash all of my wee wipes and cleaning cloths which I then air dry in the sun.  I have bought one ply paper-wrapped toilet roll for years (the most affordable recyclable option) and I use this for faecal material which is flushed as you usually would.  One roll lasts me (a single-person household) two months.

To be honest, nothing beats wiping away your wee with fluffy flannelette.  I’ll never return to using acres of one-ply.

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