Our local permaculture teacher, Geoff, reckons you can't have a bar of calling yourself 'sustainable' unless you deal with your doo-doo (or whatever you and yours affectionately call your number twos) in a sustainable way. Mildly surprised with this rather intimate conversion topic being aired in public? Yes, I was too but I really do agree.
For Geoff, being 'sustainable' means using a waterless composting toilet and quite magically recycling his doo-doo into some of the meanest compost around. This is then used to nourish one of the finest permaculture gardens in Western Australia. He grows a phenomenal amount of fruit trees and veggies on his small block and swears his doo-doo compost is one of his secrets to success. Ever the prankster, Geoff loves inviting new permaculture students to run their hands through his compost - 'go on, get your hands in there' - he trumps, only to revel in the look on their faces when he tells them his compost comes from his composting toilet. Mmmm….
Composting toilets aren't for everyone so how about the rest of us with sewer systems or septic tanks? Well just because you flush, it doesn't mean you can't do your bit in the dunny to make a difference. It's always seemed a tad crazy to me to grow millions of trees to simply to chop them down, mulch and process them into loo roll…simply to wipe your bum!!
So if you're going to change ONE thing and one thing only on your journey to being more eco, for me, it would have to be to swap to using recycled loo rolls. Forget the cute puppy ads, the artificial fragrances and patterned papers with over inflated promises of super softness. Invest in some recycled loo paper which helps reduce waste (and is also pretty soft and silky nowadays, if you're that way inclined).
Our home is on rainwater only so that's a big eco plus for our footprint but I've been buying recycled toilet paper for yonks now - it was probably one of the first decisive actions I took to start being more sustainable and it's definitely one of the easiest changes a household can make. Using recycled loo paper just makes sense to me - it's a good use of the earth's precious resources and you're helping to support an emerging market for recycled products out of what would otherwise be waste paper products heading for landfill. And if you go one step further and buy unbleached paper you're doing the environment and your own skin a huge favour too.
At Ecolosophy, we're massive fans of WGAC (Who Gives a Crap) - the ultimate 'hipster' brand of recycled loo roll with some serious eco credentials. They donate 50% of their profits to charity Wateraid helping to provide sanitation to disadvantaged communities around the globe. They use 100% recycled post consumer waste (think BPA free) and there's no chlorine, inks, dyes or perfumes. And it's fun - I mean check it out - the packaging really is way too fancy to throw away so you can have heaps of fun trying to come up with the best ways to recycle it. Check out these crazy cats…errr well dogs, from WGAC's entertaining Insta feed (it seems loo roll of any persuasion needs a cute doggie ad).
You do have to be choosy about your brand - some loo rolls contain threads of plastic woven into the paper which can break down into micro plastics and ultimately end up in our waterways or oceans. I had no idea that plastic was used in loo roll - it was Geoff, the permaculture teacher, that highlighted this to me. After years of using his composting toilet he discovered (to his horror ) that some loo rolls weren't breaking down because they contained plastic - yuk!
So if you're looking for one easy way to make a difference, just swap your loo roll over to a recycled paper brand on your next shop. If you need more motivation on the benefits of switching, check out the Wipe It Out website - they're campaigning for the hearts and minds of toilet users across Australia, asking you to pledge to switch to recycled brand.
Maybe one day down the track we'll all be swapping our Thomas Crapper's for a composting loo too? Alright, one step at a time...
We retail small quantities of Who Gives a Crap in the Ecolosophy store so you can throw a sample pack or two in with your next purchase and give it a try. Better still you can subscribe to regular boxes of WGAC with delivery to your door direct from their website at http://au.whogivesacrap.org. And if you're not into cute, hipster dunny rolls, there's many other recycled brands out there too like Safe, endorsed by Planet Ark.
WGAC donates 50% of profits to WaterAid. WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone, everywhere has safe water, sanitation and hygiene. The international organisation works in 26 countries to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 21 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 18 million people with sanitation. To donate or for more information, visit www.wateraid.org/au.
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