By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Toilet paper is something most of us take for granted, butwhat if there was a shortage? Ever considered what you would do in the absenceof this most standard of daily needs? Well, perhaps you could grow your owntoilet paper.
That’s right! Many plants are useful as a substitute forthis hygiene product. Leaves for toilet paper are often more soothing, softer,and as an added bonus, compostable and sustainable.
Certain situations can cause toilet paper woes, so it’s bestto be prepared. Few things are worse than being shy on some comforting tissueafter you do your duty. Good news! You can use plants as toilet paper shouldthe situation call for it. Learn which plants you can use as toilet paper andget growing so you’re never caught short.
Toilet paper has only been standard for about a century, buthumans had to use something to wipe up. The wealthy used fabric and washedthemselves, but everyone else used what was at hand, which in most cases turnedout to be plants.
Toilet paper substitutes are something you should thinkabout. Why? Imagine a world without toilet paper. It’s not a pretty thought butyou can be prepared by growing your own. These plants aren’t flushable but canbe buried to compost naturally. In some cases, using leaves for toilet paper isbetter for the environment and your bum.
Following in our ancestor’s footsteps, plant leaves areuseful, easy to grow, readily available, and practically free. Plant leaveswith a fuzzy texture are particularly delightful.
The towering mulleinplant (Verbascum thapsis) is a biennial that produces popcorn-likeyellow flowers in its second year, but has furry leaves in spring through fall.Similarly, lamb’sear (Stachys byzantina) has large leaves soft as a rabbit (or lamb’sear), and the plant comes back every year.
Thimbleberry isn’t quite as fuzzy, but the overall textureis soft and the leaves are as large as an adult’s hand, so you only need one ortwo to get the job done. Some other options for toilet paper from the gardenare:
While the listed plants are generally non-toxic, some peoplemay be sensitive. Before you try the leaves on your bottom, swipe the leafacross your hand or wrist and wait 24 hours. If no reaction occurs, the leafwill be safe to use on more sensitive areas.
Because many of these plants lose their leaves in winter,you will have to harvest and stockpile for the cold season. The leaves can bedried flat and stored for future use. The amount of absorbency may be affecteda bit, but once the leaf touches its target, the moisture there willreconstitute the foliage.
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Nerdin Gardens: Can you grow your own toilet paper?
Many plants can be used for hygienic purposes if ever there was an international shortage. Yet another reason to grow a garden. It is ultimately important, however to know the difference between what works or what could cause future woes.
Toilet paper has only been a standard for a century. I remember perusing the Sears and Roebuck catalog when using the outhouse at my Auntie's house way back in Georgia during the 60s as a small child. There was talk about corn cob use as well!
The following are some plants that may be substituted for toilet paper:
Large, fuzzy plant leaves may feel good on the tush, are easy to grow, compostable and sustainable. While the above plants are non-toxic, a sensitivity test is recommended by rubbing the plant over your wrist and waiting 24 hours for the results.
Learning what works as our growing season nears, ensures another successful year of gardening. Soon we will turn the earth, making it nutrient-rich so it is ready to receive. I am thinking of visiting the nursery for some new plant material, just in case.
Happy Sunday all from Nerdin Gardens in southern Utah!
Buying or selling a home in southern Utah? Together, we can figure out what works for you to achieve the goals set forth. Call me at 435.632.9374 or contact me at [email protected] to help because Wanda Can!
There are more gardening tips at Gardening Know How: Toilet Paper Substitutes: Plants You Can Use As Toilet Paper https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/info/using-plants-for-toilet-paper.htm
I, Wanda Kubat-Nerdin at Red Rock Real Estate Utah am responsible for my opinions expressed in this blog. Information herein is deemed to be reliable but not guaranteed and may change due to market conditions. Please do not take my pictures or artwork and use them as your own, they are my property and copyrighted.
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin is a southern Utah REALTOR® assisting buyers and sellers in in the St. George area, Dammeron Valley, Diamond Valley, Veyo, Central, Hurricane, Ivins, La Verkin, Leeds, Santa Clara, and Washington real estate markets.
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A stub of natural sea sponge and stick was all it took for the Ancient Romans to cleanse themselves post-toileting.
The sponge was soaked in a water channel running in front of the toilet (most of which were public!) and pushed through the hole in the front of the toilet bowl, where it would do its duty.
In a survival situation, we can learn a thing or two from all of this. A sponge is lightweight and easy to pack (and has a ton of alternative uses), and you can find a stick almost anywhere.
The only requirement is that you have a fresh water source close to clean it up after use.
If you’re short on sponges or cloths, there are many ways to substitute toilet paper. Explore your surroundings and you may come across some very interesting materials you never knew have some serious wiping potential!
I haven’t bought toilet paper in two years, and no I have not just mooched on someone else. Here are 10 ways to wipe your butt for free.
Note: Some of these options will involve a compost toilet. You don’t want to flush things down the toilet that would clog the toilet or the system. You can also use a normal flush toilet but instead of flushing the “toilet paper”, have a separate bin and compost it, or just put it in the garbage. In many countries they have a garbage can for used toilet paper.
25,000 trees are dumped into the landfill each day from our toilet paper usage. It also takes a lot of water and energy to create toilet paper. Then it’s got to be shipped which burns fossil fuels of course. Trees chopped down, water wasted, and fossil fuels burned just to wipe your butt? Toilet paper is a huge environmental nuisance and a complete waste of money. Maybe it’s time you stop wiping your butt with your money?
You probably already own most of the equipment you need, could improvise with what you have, or could find inexpensive items at a local thrift store. You’ll need a flat work surface that can get wet and can be easily dried and cleaned. Water will splash onto the floor and on surrounding surfaces, so setting up in a garage or outside is ideal.
Mould and deckle. This is the screen and frame that holds the sheet of paper you’ll pull out of the vat. Many professional ones are made from hardwood (which resists warping from water), but you can make your own out of cheaper wood, such as pine, or even staple a screen to an old picture frame. Instructions for making a mould and deckle are easily found online.
Vat. This is a tub larger than your mould and deckle. You’ll fill it with water and pulp and pull up sheets of paper from it. Use a large storage tub, dish tub, a freestanding plastic vat with a drain and plug on the bottom, or even an old secondhand sink.
Felts. Not actually felt, these materials are what you’ll lay, or couch, your wet, formed paper onto after you pull it from the vat. Any quality wool material would work — old blankets, nonfusible pellon from a fabric store, or papermakers’ felts. These must be cut approximately 2 inches wider than all sides of your paper (or your mould and deckle).
Plastic buckets with handles. These will hold pulp and help in draining vats. Papermaking uses a lot of water. Because you’ll be working with natural plant fibers and few other elements, you can set up a water-collection system to use the water for other purposes around your garden or homestead.
A press or sponges and brayer. You can use sponges to remove excess water from your pulled paper, or you can assemble a simple press to squeeze out much more water and reduce drying time. Search online for examples people have found creative solutions. A brayer or similar rolling tool is helpful for smoothing paper and releasing more water.
Drying equipment. This could be sheets of Plexiglas or even a clothesline, depending on how you’d like to finish your paper and leave it to dry. You may want to experiment. Drying on Plexiglas will make one side of the paper very smooth drying on a line will be easier to set up but could lead to more rippling in the paper, though this can be smoothed with a bit of water later. You could also dry between sheets of corrugated cardboard with a fan nearby. The corrugations in the cardboard will allow air to flow.
Storing pulp. Drain the vat through a mesh strainer lined with a fine mesh bag (such as a “brewer’s bag” used by homebrewers) into a bucket, squeezing out as much water as you can. Form pulp into a ball. The pulp will last in the refrigerator in a container until it begins to mold. You can also dry it completely and store it in a cupboard.
After you practice, experiment try blending different plant fibers together, or add tea leaves, oatmeal, or other inclusions into the vat before you pull paper. As you watch plants transform from their original color to the hues and textures they’ll take on after cooking, then into pulp, and finally to the look and feel of the final paper, you’ll see your plants anew.
Kristi Quillen is an editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Much of this information is adapted from Helen Hiebert’s Papermaking with Garden Plants and Common Weeds and The Papermaker’s Companion. Thank you to Jeff Hansen of Kansas Native Plants and Tonja Torgerson of the Lawrence Arts Center for contributing their expertise.