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Americans’ Obsessio

Soft. Absorbent. Thick and cushy. From paper towels to wipe up messes to toilet paper to wipe their tushes, Americans have an obsession with paper wipes of all sorts, and Canadians are calling for a plug on it.



According to the National Post, a report on tissue paper gave the U.S. a failing grade when it comes to using only virgin fiber pulp, most of which comes from Canada’s old boreal forests. Name brands such as Charmin, Cottonelle, Brawny, Bounty, Kleenex, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and Viva were called out for not having any recycled or alternative materials in them.

While the papers’ makers protested that they’re doing what they can to conserve, and plan to do better in the future, the report still points out that the U.S. uses more toilet paper per person than any country in the world.

The problem with paper, no matter what form it’s in, is that it’s a commodity that destroys trees, fills landfills and, in the case of toilets and sewer systems, clogs them up. The bottom line is — pun intended — rom diapers to wipes to toilet paper, it takes an enormous amount of natural resources in the form of trees to produce them.

Toilet tissue aside, flushable wipes have been increasingly in the news for the past few years. One reason is because they’re anything but flushable. Yes, they go down the toilet. But they end up at wastewater treatment plants in huge sewer-clogging balls, largely intact and almost new.

More recently, besides the severe environmental impact they cause, these wipes have been connected to childhood allergies, as chemicals in them can break down the top layer of the skin, causing it to absorb allergens that can trigger reactions.

The thing is, people managed to live for millennia without wipes or paper towels or, yes, the softest-ever tissues for your tush. While there’s no need to go back to corn cobs and catalogue pages to clean what needs to be wiped, you can revert to using soft cloths with mild soap and lukewarm water to wipe your baby’s bottom.

In that line of thinking, reusable, washable cloths can still wipe up spills and clean household surfaces, too. For the bottom end, why not try a bidet in your bathroom and enjoy the cleanest clean ever?

Bidets are quite common in part of Europe, South America, the Middle East and Japan — which obviously is one way to save trees from being cut down to make toilet tissue. But the point is bidets provide superior hygiene, are gentler on your skin than the tissue you buy for the advertised extra softness and cleanliness.

When you use a bidet, you may still need a sheet or two of toilet paper to dry yourself (unless yours has a built-in dryer), but that is a tiny fraction of what you would need to clean yourself. This can easily be done using reusable cloths made from cut up flannel, sheets or even an old T-shirt.

Since massive amounts of clothing are thrown away in the U.S. every day — another whole issue — if you had a bidet and chose to cut up old clothes instead of throwing them away, you literally could address these environmental issues every day in your own home in multiple ways.

The good news is a bidet doesn’t have to be separate from your toilet anymore, as there are now add-on parts that are inexpensive that can be installed right on your present toilet.

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