Originally Posted by martin18
Hi there, sorry if this has already been covered, but it's such a long thread....
I think this is a really interesting idea, and I like to waste as little as I possibly can. But my one concern is all the electricity and water used to wash the cloths. After all, TP is infinitely more biodegradable than a diaper, even better if its non-bleached, recycled TP. And we are talking high temperature washes here.
Any ideas on this?
Manufacturing toilet paper is far from a water- and electricity-free process. Consider all the fuel required to log a forest, transport it to the sawyer (often hundreds or more miles away), do the sawyering, transport it again (hundreds or thousands of miles) to a facility which does I don't even know what to make toilet paper.
And consider throwing a few extra cloths into your towel load, probably not even generating an extra load. (It doesn't for me).
You don't have to throw it in the dryer either, feel free to hang to dry.
I also have a high efficiency washing machine. The materials it came with said it uses about the same amount of water as washing your hands. Well, even if they are exaggerating, family cloth is hardly a large volume of things to wash, it certainly does not increase my laundy load at all. You would be better served to save two bath towels a week, and I don't hear anybody jumping up and down about that.
As for biodegradability, I don't follow that argument either. Yes, TP will degrade quicker than a piece of cotton, so what? The cotton wipe will degrade pretty fast. But, more, the cotton wipe did not require any extra manufacturing. You make them from what you were going to throw away. How could you make it more environmental than that? Old sheets, t-shirts, etc. (one of ours was an old washcloth with a hole in it, we cut it in half). And we will reuse and reuse and reuse.
Anyway, I think that people just don't think about what the real environmental issues are - they only see the end product and count from there, they don't give any thought to where that product came from and what it took to make it into the finished product, with all its packaging, bleach, waste, fuel, machinery, etc. - not to mention the ancient forests that are being lost every hour (google that for more information - yes, the tissue makers are razing the ancient forests at alarming speeds so we can wipe our tushes). Yes, if you ignore that totally, it's easy to feel fine about throwing away a little piece of tissue that won't be there (except for its chemical residue) in 6 months.