Thursday, February 10, 2011

EYCC: Decreasing Tree Products

About 2 weeks ago I joined EcoYogini's Earth Yoga Challenge for Change (EYCC) challenging us to truly connect with our environment, with ourselves and to make a change rather than just think about it. It is a truly inspiring initiative that I signed up wholeheartedly for...thinking this might just be the sort of thing I need to take my eco-game to the next level.
Typical Nova Scotia Forest
First item on the Challenge: Decrease our dependence on unnecessary tree products. So I went over the things we already do to decrease tree products in our household.
  1. Cancel all deliveries of flyers or junk mail
  2. Reuse both sides of every envelope (great for lists!) or other scrap paper
  3. Don't buy processed foods
  4. Don't buy paper towels or tissue paper
  5. Reuse all gift wrapping
  6. Print on both sides of my paper at work or re-use it as scrap
  7. Buy only post-consumer recycled paper and toilet paper
  8. Encourage my students to print double sided or re-use paper already printed on one side
  9. Read all my references for my PhD as a .pdf on my computer
These are all great and have reduced our paper consumption to one recycling bag a month! I realized that our biggest consumption of paper was toilet paper used for its intended purpose and as tissue paper. Ever since I heard about family wipes or cloth toilet paper I had been seriously thinking about it. Well here it was something I had been thinking about doing but never actually did it...

As most of you know I was pretty sick over the weekend and I was appalled at the amount of paper I was using to blow my nose! All of the garbage cans in my house were filling up with used tissue! That was the straw (or tissue) that broke the camel's back. So on Sunday I set out not only to make cloth TP but also some handkerchiefs.
I read a few websites to get sizes and materials for my two items and settled on ~4-5" for the cloth TP and ~8" for the handkerchiefs. You can make your TP and handkerchiefs out of anything you want but the thickness of the material, especially for the TP, can be an issue. Most sites I read also re-purposed old clothing for this new function. T-shirt material being the thinnest usually needs 3-4 layers to be absorbent enough. You also want to consider the softness of your wipes, whether for your nose or other you definitely want it to be I opted for fleece. I had the remnants of the sweater I used to make my tea cozy to be used up... so out came my machine and I was determined to stop using paper that very day.
I only had the top half of the sweater left but managed to make 16 cloth TP wipes (small grey and blue squares) and 6 handkerchiefs. Of course I had to decorate my handkerchiefs. The Calgary logo is where the sweater came from, Diego drew the two sharks for me and I made them out of bits of blue fleece leftover from the sleeves, the sea stars are bits of t-shirts that were kicking around and the flowers are from the same t-shirt my fish on my tea cozy came from! The only new material in all of this was the thread! :) It took 5 hours to make because of the detailing on the hankies but also because I stitched the edges of each of the cloth wipes and hankies to keep them intact even though fleece is not supposed to it looks nice to have a border!
The seastars are my favorite. They are anatomically correct (leave it to a marine biologist!) albeit a little crooked...they were quite fiddly to sew! They were made in the image of a sea star found here in Nova Scotia, Asterias vulgaris or the Northern Sea Star.
Photo from:
As you can see they have many different colour variations but they all have one thing in common...the white dot. This is called a madreporite and is where they take in seawater for their muscles to work against in their tube feet so they can move. It is also part of their circulatory system and they extract oxygen from the water they take in and release wastes. It is called a water vascular system.
Photo from:
Ok...enough of a tangent...back to the issue at hand cloth TP and handkerchiefs. You might be asking has it been working so far? Well, I fell in love from the first wipe! They are so soft!! The handkercheifs are great, I can use the up to eight times before I need to wash them and I love the TP too...up to 3 wipes per square if you are adept at folding! I will continue to use them for at least a week and report back on my methods, techniques and the outcome in Part II of the cloth TP and hankie saga!


  1. YAY!!!!!! Welcome to the EYCC challenge!! And WOW on your wipes- SO AWESOME. i especially loved the tangent.
    This Sunday I'll be linking you on my roundup! WOOT.

    Also- I think I will take a lesson from you- and collect envelopes as scrap-list papers. Off I go in search of a proper drawer for them!

  2. Just visited after seeing a link here from EcoYogini. I LOVE your hankies and TP! I have been using cloth hankies and TP for almost exactly one year now and I am LOVING it as much now as I did when I first started. It's awesome, isn't it?!

  3. Thank you Alli for the effort you put into saving our planet. As a biologist you must see the changes that are happening in the weather systems... it's scary isn't it.

  4. Thanks for your support! I should be making more hankies and wipes with a gorgeous fleece blanket I picked up at a local thrift store for $2.50!!!!

    Vickie, I notice the changes every day. I am wondering when Sherrie's snowdrops will pop up this year. They have been coming up a week earlier every year for the last 4 years! It is scary and I know that changing to cloth wipes is a small part but I know that all of the little things add up.