Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I gave up toilet paper...

Prior to the start of this journey, I had already stopped using most other paper products, including paper towels, paper plates, and so on. I had decided not to use these things for obvious reasons. I had always blown my nose in the sink if I had to, or used a piece of cloth. But at the start of this journey, I did I gave myself just a little bit of leeway. I decided that I would continue to use toilet paper that went down the toilet know what I mean...

We moved to India when I was seven, and at that point, we had grown a little accustomed to Western-style toilets (although they are certainly less comfortable than plain old squatting toilets). So, we had these Western-style toilets installed in our apartment, and these toilets had water jets that would spray-clean you. Toilet paper was super expensive in India, and no one really used toilet paper. I guess they made some for the expats that just couldn't fathom not using toilet paper. Sometimes my dad would bring some toilet paper when he came from the US, felt like him bringing little trinkets. "TOILET PAPER! YAY DAD! WE LOVE YOU!"

Since then, of course, we moved back to the US, and quickly got readjusted to wiping our asses with toilet paper. Sometimes it is that really rough stuff that just plain hurts. But of course, that soft stuff is really ecologically degrading. (Side story: When I was working in Belgium at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, I rented a room from a lovely elderly Belgian couple. They were super-rich. The house was a mansion. They provided the toilet paper. It was luxurious, actually. Quadruple ply. Have you ever heard of that?!) I mean, it's paper. It comes from wood, or recycling of other paper. All bad. (read here, here, here, here for facts and numbers)

But when this who no-trash-waste thing started, for some reason, I thought it was unreasonable to expect me to give up toilet paper. For many people, it is the personal stuff, maybe just one or two things, that is difficult to give up or sacrifice. (Of course, sacrifice is wholly positive.) It is almost like some invasion into your being. But then I thought, that's what this whole project has been about - about showing that it is possible to make changes and question what is thrown at us, and to consider our daily habits, the almost ritual-like motions we go through without thinking about them. Deep-rooted in this culture's psyche is its obsessiveness with its sanitary ways, toilet paper and paper products chief among them. The ecological impacts of our standards of sanitation? Hmmm...we really need to confront the "gross" factor. And so a few months ago, I gave up toilet paper. I just decided to come out to the world today and say it, and show that it can be done. That's right. No toilet paper. No "recycled" toilet paper, no toilet paper whatsoever. I use a little water bottle, And take it easy, I still use soap.

It works, and it feels so much better than wiping your ass with a piece of paper.


  1. The story doesnt say how you dry your wetted holly bottom once clean nor the energy cost of the 750ml of clean water you use compare to the cost of paper. :)

  2. Kudos on making it to the next step! It's amazing how we can get so accustomed to the gross factor. I remember the days of using water and your hand (we moved here from India when I was 9), and now it seems difficult to imagine not using toilet paper at all.

  3. Nicolas,

    I let my underwear do the drying...

    AND 750 mL? Pshaw! I use around 200 mL. :)

  4. Tanny,

    Great to hear from you. Where in India were you living? Was the switch difficult for you when you came to the US?

  5. I was wondering when this would happen. Awesome.

  6. Ever since i came here i have always wondered how do these guys out here survive using toilet paper ... I mean its so damn unhygienic ... Okay leme put it this way ... Those particles r left behind rite ? Dun they feel like scratchin ??? Then i thot probably all of these guys have their lil moment in some corner whn they scratch until they get nirvana ... Or some other way ;) ..

  7. TBH I always thought you were cheating with the no trash thing because you never mentioned this. The question is, does it work as well as TP?

  8. it works so much better. i mean, you're not spreading it around, but washing it off. and it just feels better. softer than quadruple ply, or any number of plies.

    i'm glad you no longer think i am cheating...or wait, what else do you think i should be doing? :)

    it's good to hear from you. i thought you fell off of the face of the earth.

  9. Hmmmmmmmm. This is intriguing.

  10. Hey there! We lived in New Delhi. Are you referring to the transition to tp? =p That was not difficult at all.

    Did you interest in the environment begin in India or here? Keep up the good posts - I really enjoy reading them.

  11. Well wetting ass once/twice a day may not be difficult, but now try to imagine wetting a pussy 5 times day, figuring out how to dry it without TP so that blood/other liquid coming from vagina will not get diluted into those water particules and spread to the whole underwear then to the pant, leading to unwanted odors / stains ?

    Sorry for gynaecologic details but being a woman is the reason why I use TP.

  12. Don't give up.
    Just choose TP that has a good quality.
    Maybe there are many scam there that they imitate the good quality toilet paper company maker.

  13. I just came to your post and reading above thing it is very impressive me and it is very nice blog. Thanks a lot for sharing this.