That's right, you heard me. I have not bought toilet paper for one whole year. But why? Let me start from the very beginning.
I have three daughters, and when our first arrived we started our 'reusable journey' by putting her in cloth nappies. We were not strict users, but we certainly used more cloth nappies than we did disposables. By the time she was six months old, we started to use reusable baby wipes. It was also when she was six months old that I discovered I was pregnant again. I knew that our second baby would became a poster babe for reusable products, and that is exactly what she become. I started to make my own baby wipes from cut up old bath towels and just wet them under the tap when needed. We had a pile of wipes in the kitchen for sticky faces and hands and a pile in the bathroom for nappy changes.
After my second daughter was born, I started to think about the sanitary items that I was buying each month when my period arrived. These scratchy, chemical-ridden items surely did not seem best for my health or my purse. Much like cloth nappies and wipes, I started to explore the world of cloth sanitary products (CSP) and alternatives to the tampon, such as the mooncup. One cup cost just under £20 and lasts 10 years, and you only need one cup for the whole of that time. A product that definitely pays for itself after just a few months, and saves you a heck of a lot of money over the years. I much preferred the reusable options over the disposable ones. It is estimated that a menstruating woman will go through around 15,000 pads or tampons in her life, costing her around £2,000! Bad for the environment and bad for our bank accounts. Cloth pads are shaped almost identically to disposable pads, and fix into place with poppers on the ends of wings. They tend to be made from layers of absorbent fabric, and are less prone to leaks. Oh, and they are just as thin as a 'normal' sanitary towel!
They are washed in the machine just like your clothes and reused. The amount of toxins you expose your body to is drastically reduced and many ladies who previously reported heavy and painful periods have been relieved of their symptoms with lighter, less painful bleeds and even shorter bleed times. It really does make you wonder what these chemicals are doing to our bodies.
Many disposable pads now contain perfumes (just take a walk down the feminine hygiene aisle in any supermarket and breathe in the carcinogens radiating from the packets). Your skin is the largest organ of the human body, it is also the thinnest. It absorbs the chemicals that it comes into contact with. Those chemicals enter your bloodstream and can cause significant harm to your overall health. Worryingly, the companies that manufacture sanitary pads are not required to disclose the 'ingredients' that they use in manufacturing these pads. Just google what really goes into making them and the effects it can have on your body.
When I was pregnant with our third daughter, I was seriously assessing how I could make our frugality that little bit more hard-core. What's one thing we buy, use daily and was literally just thrown away? Toilet paper. We were already using cloth nappies, cloth wipes and cloth sanitary items, so what extra hardship would it be to start using cloth toilet paper? It all goes into the same wash load, it's no extra washing really, barely noticeable. Much like my home made cloth wipes, I simply cut up some old towels into rags and keep them by the toilet in a useful box. The dirty ones get kept in a tub, and thrown in the machine each time I was a nappy load. There are no smells believe it or not and the kids very quickly got used to using the wipes instead of paper, although my two year old did flush one by accident in the early days.
I know using cloth toilet paper won't be everyone's first step to frugality, but I urge you all to at least think about what you are buying and throwing away. Even just cutting out the make-up remover wipes from your shopping list and replacing them with a soft flannel wipe that can be used time and time again will save you some money, and our landfills from becoming even more full. If you have children why not try using cloth wipes? You don't need to spend any money if you don't want to (but there are companies online where you can buy ready-made ones) and give it a go. Even if it's just while you're at home in the evening.
I'm not asking you to become hippies like us (and looking at us you would never guess what we're like as people) but who knows what you'll learn (and save) trying to become that little more moneywise and earth-loving-wise. For more posts on starting your own reusable journey, visit my blog.