You know you’re a parent when you find yourself sitting on the toilet, cuddling a cranky toddler while you’re doing a poo.
Cranky toddlers aside, we humans produce a fair bit of *ahem* waste in this particular room of the house. As far as I’m aware, a composting loo is a no-no in suburbia. Short of moving to the sticks and digging myself a bush dunny, there are a few ways to make going to the toilet a little more sustainable.
Swap the loo roll
There are better options than highly bleached 3 ply in a plastic wrapper!
*Who Gives A Crap
This toilet paper is made from 100% recycled paper. It comes wrapped in pretty printed paper which can be reused, recycled or composted. My nieces and nephews don’t batt an eyelid when their gifts come wrapped in Who Gives A Crap paper 😉 Added bonus: 50% of profits go towards providing toilets to third world communities. Environmentally AND socially responsible!
Flannels for your fanny. Bamboo for your bum. Think cloth baby wipes in adult size. Basically you buy/cut/sew yourself a stash of soft cloth squares to use in place of toilet paper. Keep a designated bin with a lid in the loo for putting used cloth into, then wash in your machine just like any other towel. Personally I’m not sure I love my husband enough to clean his shitty wipes, but think it’s a lovely option for when you’ve only done a wee. If you use these for cleaning a Number 2, well you’re a better woman than I! It’s not such a stretch to cloth wipe when already using cloth nappies on the little ones, and your privates will love you for it.
No need to get the plumber out, you can buy little hose attachments from Bunnings that will do the job just fine. Hatchling Cloth Nappies has put together an easy to follow tutorial that won’t cost you the earth. This is on The Mister’s to-do list to make cloth nappy changes easier, but you can use the exact same equipment for washing your bum. Apparently a bidet is THE most environmentally friendly option there is. A nice bit of family cloth to dry up wouldn’t go astray 🙂
Ditch the harmful chemicals. They are no good for you OR the waterways. Instead make yourself some homemade cleaner, invest in a good toilet brush (look for bamboo or coconut husk) and use cloth cleaning wipes for wiping the seat etc.
White vinegar is extremely safe to use. It disinfects and kills odours. Plus you’ve probably already got this in the house for putting on your hot chips, right?
This little gem is probably lurking in your pantry too. You can buy it in a cardboard box so it’s completely zero waste (reuse, recycle or compost). Bicarb is useful for getting stains off the toilet bowl, although it doesn’t have any antibacterial properties of its own. If you shake this all over the surface and then apply the vinegar, the bicarb will foam, doing half the work of lifting away debris for you. Less elbow grease when it comes time to scrub with the brush 😉
This will help restore a bit of the lost sparkle in the old porcelain. Rinsing with lemon juice or citric acid helps get rid of stubborn stains and leaves the loo smelling lemony fresh.
*Tea tree oil
Proven to be antibacterial, antifungal and mildly antiviral, all homes should keep tea tree oil in their arsenal. Dilute in water and wipe all of the surfaces.
Secret Women’s Business
On average a woman will menstruate for 4-5 days a month, every month, between the ages of 12 and 51. Of course, Mother Nature kindly lets you take a break while pregnant, and will sometimes extend your time off while breastfeeding. Even accounting for a slow start and a tapered finish to your menstruating life, that is an awful lot of pads and tampons used! Each one comes individually plastic-wrapped in a box which is also wrapped in plastic. Each one is chemically treated to make it nice and white for you. There are better options.
Brands such as Naturcare and TOMS make their products from organic cotton. These are a good option if you’re mainly concerned about chemicals coming in contact with your skin. They don’t make a huge environmental difference as they are still a throw away option, although organic cotton farming does use less water than conventional methods.
Re-usable menstrual pads, often known affectionately as Mumma Cloth, are a sustainable option for pad users. Given women are all different, it’s probably best to buy a couple of sizes and styles to try before investing in a whole stash. Just like family cloth, keep a bin in the toilet to put your used pads in then wash in your machine. Mumma Cloth is made in the same fashion as cloth nappies for babies, with layers of absorbent material between soft cloth. You have the option of different fabrics, wings or no wings, organic, etc. This can be a great way to support talented work-at-home-women. Try The Cloth Pad Shop for a variety of different pads made by women around Australia.
You’ve got the Moon Cup, Juju Cup (Australian made), the Diva cup, just to name a few. If you are a tampon-user this is probably the option for you. Just rinse and re-use. Sterilise after use as per manufacturers instructions. It’s as simple as that. I know a lot of women prefer to use their cup in conjunction with a cloth liner for peace of mind, especially when new to using a cup. Keep in mind cups come in different sizes and it may take a month or two to become comfortable with inserting the cup. Just like a tampon, if it’s in correctly you shouldn’t be able to feel it.
We’ve all heard the rhyme, “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”. This can be a good way to reduce your water usage and is our guideline at night and during nap time. Personally I find older toilets quickly start to smell using this method though. Another way to cut back on the water is to use the half-flush option. If your toilet isn’t dual flush, it’s time to upgrade.
You can have a plumber come out and rig it up so that your cistern fills from your rainwater tank. This is a job for the professionals, but is a great use for tankwater and will make a difference to your water rates. Much better to use water that runs off your roof than water you pay to pipe from a dam hundreds of kilometres away.
Have you made any sustainable changes to your toilet? I’d love to hear any tips you have!