Let's Talk Trash - Alternatives to Toilet Paper

Let’s Talk Trash - February 2023 - Alternatives to Toilet Paper


    It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that toilet paper as we know it, paper on a roll, was available to the masses. Nowadays it’s considered an essential luxury associated with comfort and cleanliness but have you ever wondered how humans used to wipe their butts? Before toilet paper, materials such as sponge, hemp, corn husks, snow, sand, leaves, moss, broken pottery, shells, sticks, grass, and water were used. 

    That might sound odd to you but there are places in the world even now that don’t use toilet paper. Bidets are common in Europe and the left hand, along with water, does the work of tush cleaning in most of Asia. In many of these places water is the preferable way to clean up as toilet paper is not seen as the cleanest or safest option. Excess wiping has been known to cause puffiness, tears and bleeding. (If your butt hurts, it might actually be because you are using toilet paper.)

    Manufacturers estimate it takes about 37 gallons of water to make one roll of toilet paper and that humans flush 27,000 trees down the toilet every day. Millions of trees are cut down and turned into virgin wood pulp which is treated with chlorine dioxide to whiten and soften the finished product of toilet paper. Once logged, these trees no longer absorb carbon dioxide, act as habitat for wildlife, or offer building supplies to nearby Indigenous peoples. 

    In Canada, our irreplaceable boreal forests are being mowed down so corporations can sell toilet paper. If you buy many major brands of toilet paper, you are contributing to the destruction of the forests and climate change. The Canadian Boreal Forest is an ecosystem that is central to managing CO2 levels. Be an advocate for positive change by letting stores you shop at know that you want planet friendly options. 

    Fortunately, there are more and more tree free alternatives for our toilet needs. 

    You can buy rolls made of bamboo (a sustainable and readily renewable resource) as well as 100% post-consumer recycled paper. 

    Bidets are another option.  They use less water than needed to produce toilet paper, save trees, reduce energy consumption, and mean you no longer need to buy toilet paper. If you have a toilet on Lasqueti, you can buy a bidet that easily hooks up to your system. If you have an outhouse, a hose or even a water bottle can be used as a way to wash yourself outside.

    Reusable toilet cloths can be repurposed from old clothes, towels, sheets, washcloths, blankets, socks and rags. After use, you simply wash with water. There might be a psychological barrier for those of us who are used to flushing away evidence of our bodily functions.Comparing reusable cloths to reusable diapers might help overcome that barrier. If we can do it for our babies, we can do it for our adult selves too! In your outhouse or bathroom, store clean cloths in a small bucket with a lid and soak your dirty ones in vinegar water (also with a lid to reduce odor ) until you are ready to launder them.    


    For the women out there who regularly pee outside, you probably know that maple, salmon berry, or mullein leaves are awesome wipes, but if you want to get fancier, there is a new pee cloth from Circe Care called Piss Off. It’s designed for hikers but it works for our general lifestyle here. The reusable cloth is infused with silver for anti-microbial purposes. It’s super absorbent, washable, unscented and durable. The fabric is manufactured without harsh chemicals. I was given one for Christmas and it’s making my resolution to stop wiping with trees so much easier. Check it out at https://circecaregroup.com/product-pissoff/

    What we do in the privacy of our bathrooms isn’t hidden from mother earth. Deforestation and excessive water use are needlessly taxing her, Butt-Changing daily habits can make a difference, one wipe at a time. 


Island Trash Removal: The 2nd Wednesday of every month is the trash removal day at False Bay barge ramp. February 8, 2023 is the next scheduled date. 10:00 am until the barge is full.  Any changes due to weather will be posted on the email list and FB Lasqueti Hotwire. Please call Mark if you have any questions. 8601 or 250 240 9886

Recycling Depot: Fall/Winter Hours  October 1st to March 30th.

Mondays 10 am - 2 pm, Thursdays 1 - 5 pm

Closed on Statutory Holidays. All recycling is monitored. Please bring materials clean, dry and sorted.

Free Store: Fall/Winter Hours  October 1st to March 30th.

Mondays 10 am – 2 pm and Thursdays 1 - 5 pm 

Please respect signs. Drop donations during open hours. Clean, usable clothing and household items only.  Please, no food, garbage, recycling, TV’s, soft foam, batteries, electrical devices, mattresses or hazardous materials, ie: chemicals, fluorescent light tubes, prescription/non-prescription drugs, or pills in general. There are recycling programs on Vancouver island for many of these materials.

Recycle BC Website: www.recyclebc.ca/what-can-i-recycle

Return-It Beverage Depot: Open 24/7. Front left of the Free Store. No refundable glass (ie: beer, wine, hard liquor) bottles, please take these to the nearest Return-It Beverage depot yourself.  Yes to aluminum beer, cider, pop cans, coconut water cans, boxed wine cartons (leave them intact) and tetra juice packs, including (rinsed) milk and milk substitute containers. Please leave the caps on and push the straws in and do not crush containers. Labels can be left on.


If you have any questions, comments, suggestions for me and the qRD Let’s Talk Trash team, please get in touch. jennyv [at] lasqueti [dot] ca or 8601



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