Alternative to Toilet Paper

~ Toilet Paper ~

Something we need or something we would be better off without?


How did we become so dependent upon using toilet paper?


Basically it started out, like most consumer products today, as a clever marketing campaign. There are certain elements of successful marketing campaigns. One is to convince people they need the product and another is to make the product in a way that can’t easily be done by people themselves. There is also the technique to differentiate it from what currently exists, creating an artificial need or market niche. If successful, the company creates a dependency in the targeted population and generates repeat sales. As consumers hardly ever question anything, they are easy targets and blindly believe nearly any hype that is offered to them.

An example of money-makers and the convincing lies they tell  


By 1925 Scott became the leading toilet paper company in the world and by 1942 toilet paper was common in most households in industrialized nations. Part of Scott’s success came by using propaganda such as the following:

Scott advertisements were suggesting that “over 65% of middle-aged men and women suffered from some sort of rectal disease”. Inferior toilet paper was deemed to be responsible. It was printed in Scott advertisements that “harsh toilet tissue may cause serious injury”. The ad said ” ScotTissue, Sani-tissue and Waldorf are famous bathroom tissues specifically processed to satisfy the three requirements doctors say toilet tissue must have to be safe: absorbency-softness-chemical purity”. Each sheet, it said was made of “thirsty fibers.” Scott tissue was made from the finest ingredients and “they are neither acid nor alkaline in reaction. Each sheet is fully sterilized in manufacture” it read.

Looking closely at these statements you can see how cleverly it is crafted to sell their toilet paper, positioning themselves to be a household word and creating a dependency on their product. A useful tidbit to remember is that whenever anybody is trying to sell us something or when there is money involved, most likely it can’t be trusted. Then these sales pitches can become the trigger, to take the moment to question what is being told to us, to find out what could be behind the words…

The following example dissects the above marketing statement to give examples of questions we could ask:

Technique: Make an unsubstantiated claim regarding rectal disease, the causation and also the numbers suffering from it, alluding that their product will alleviate this problem.

Questions: What rectal disease are they referring to? Hemorrhoids? How many people really have this condition? Isn’t it true that hemorrhoids are primarily caused by diet? What disease could be caused by harsh toilet papers?  Is there something else that could be used besides toilet paper?

Technique: If one doesn’t use soft toilet paper then one will get rectal disease. If one uses other harsh products then one may cause oneself serious injury.

Questions: What kind of serious injury are they talking about? Am I aware enough in my cleansing not to injure myself? Can I trust my own feedback system of nerve endings signaling pain to not cause myself harm?  Or is the truth that I can’t trust myself and it would be better that I use guaranteed injury free products???  Implied is that responsible parents or mother’s buy this product for their families.

Technique: Using this product will cure rectal disease.

Questions:  Will changing one’s method of cleansing from the outside heal an existing rectal disease?

Technique: This product is famous and doctors say to be safe, you must use something like this one.

Questions: How likely is it that a doctor made this statement about safe toilet paper? By saying the product is famous does that make it reliable? What does it mean that the product is famous, that many people have bought into the hype? How does absorbency, softness and chemical purity protect you? Yes we like soft … but are the other attributes essential?

Technique: Use words that can change people’s attitudes, such as thirsty fibers and absorbent. .

Questions: How do the statements using words such as absorbent and thirsty affect people and their feelings about their own bodily waste? Does it make that people feel their own body waste is something dirty that shouldn’t be touched? If so, then doesn’t this create a change in attitude and therefore a continued need to consume this item?

Technique: Make your product unique and difficult for people to make themselves.

Questions: Does one need chemical purity and sterilized products for one’s toilet cleansing? If there is no human or animal contamination on the product being used (sperm, blood or saliva), is there any risk of disease coming from the use of such a product?  Is it that something is only sanitary if it’s been saturated with harsh chemicals? Could the chemicals used for sterilization actually cause you more harm than non-sterilized or natural products?


What are the hidden costs of this luxurious habit?   

  • Dependent on being a consumer, as we can’t make our own toilet paper
  • Most toilet paper is bleached causing the byproduct dioxin, one of the most toxic human-made chemicals known. Once released into the environment, it is persistent because natural bacteria cannot effectively break it down. When we buy toilet paper bleached with chlorine, we support pulp and paper mills that pollute our environment with dioxin and other toxic organochlorines.
  • Trees are harvested each year to supply the global demand for toilet paper.
  • Toilet paper is hardly every composted and is usually flushed into sewage systems which then has to be cleaned or removed with chemical treatments.
  • We have to buy the toilet paper, versus using locally available and free alternatives.
  • Paper and other materials that could be *recycled* are now going directly into landfills.

3rollsToilet Paper Facts    

  • The average roll of toilet paper weighs 227 grams, including the cardboard tube, which is just over half a pound.
  • With one cord of wood one could make 1,000 pounds (.5 metric tons) of toilet paper.  O ne cord of wood =  the heating value of 200 gallons (800 liters) of fuel oil.
  • In 2004 estimated annual global sales on toilet tissue will exceed $19.8 billion.The processing of 1 metric ton of paper uses: 17 trees, 6,953 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil — causing 587 pounds of air pollution, taking 3.06 cubic yards of landfill space and 4,077 kilowatt hours of energy. The 2004 estimate for toilet paper production is 24.635 million metric tons. The resources required to produce these 108.5 billion rolls of toilet paper will use the equivalent of:
  1. 418,795,000 trees
  2. 171,287,155,000 gallons (685,148,620,000 liters) of water
  3. 11,406,005,000 gallons ( 45,624,020,000 liters) of fuel oil
  4. 14,460,745,000 pounds (6,573,065,909 kilos) of air pollution
  5. 75,383,100 cubic yards of landfill space
  6. equal to 100,436,895,000 kw hours of energy

What did people use before?    (Isn’t it strange that we have to ask this question?)


  • Newsprint, paper catalog pages in early US
  • Hayballs, Scraper/gompf stick kept in container by the privy in the Middle Ages
  • Discarded sheep’s wool in the Viking Age, England
  • Frayed end of an old anchor cable was used by sailing crews from Spain and Portugal
  • Medieval Europe- Straw, hay, grass, gompf stick
  • Corn cobs, Sears Roebuck catalog, mussel shell, newspaper, leaves, sand- United States
  • Water and your left hand, India
  • Pages from a book, British Lords
  • Coconut shells in early Hawaii
  • Lace was used by French Royalty
  • Public Restrooms in Ancient Rome- A sponge soaked in salt water, on the end of a stick
  • The Wealthy in Ancient Rome-Wool and Rosewater
  • French Royalty-lace, hemp
  • Hemp & wool were used by the elite citizens of the world
  • Defecating in the river was very common internationally
  • Bidet, France
  • Snow and Tundra Moss were used by early Eskimos


I would hope that after having read this report on toilet paper, that some can question their use of this product and find an alternative. When one sees clearly the hidden costs of continuing to consume this product then it should be easier to make a change. Our fossil fuels are shrinking and soon we will reach peak oil, water shortages are on the horizon, species are going extinct, global pollution levels are seriously threatening life. Toilet paper is only one of many consumer products that we are using today, that we need to find more ecological alternatives for. We need to face the reality that we are killing the planet and ourselves with it, with our mindless consumption of all these things. By questioning our consumer habits and making changes, we can turn things around and repair the damage that we have caused by being blind consumers.

Posted in Changing Our Habits, Sustainability Tagged with: , , ,

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