A Year Without Toilet Paper?

Toilet_paper_2 A family living in New York City is making news because they’re giving up toilet paper for a year. They’re also foregoing new clothes, foods not grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan, and all forms of carbon-fueled transportation. That means they don’t take cars or cabs and they don’t ride elevators, though they do use push-powered scooters — even when it snows.

They call it No Impact living, and it’s pretty much the complete opposite of what Big Green Purse advocates.

Now, I confess. I do a lot of what "No Impact Man" (you’ll have to read the article) does, though not to such an extreme. No, I haven’t given up toilet paper. But I walk as much as possible. About 80% of the food I buy is locally grown. I use my own reusable mug when I’m out and about to avoid throwaways. I take my own shopping bags to the grocery store.

But this is where the Man and I part company. I want to simplify my life and reduce my environmental impact, and I sure wish the rest of the world would, too. But the chances of 300 million Americans giving up toilet paper are slim to none. The chances of some greater percentage of the population switching to toilet paper made from recycled paper are much greater. And it’s by using that consumer clout to buy the right products that we force manufacturers — the entities that do the most damage to the environment — to reduce pollution, stop global warming, and right a whole host of other environmental wrongs.

"No Impact Man" is to the eco-lifestyle movement what Greenpeace is to the environmental movement: far enough out on the fringe to make what is truly impactful — in this case, shifting significant dollars in the marketplace to force manufacturers to clean up their act — seem simple and safe by comparison.

Thanks, Man. And let me know when you need a roll of (recycled) toilet paper.

2 Responses to A Year Without Toilet Paper?

  1. Gift of Green Mom May 26, 2007 at 5:30 pm #

    When I was traveling in India about 20 years ago, my friend and I stayed with her relatives in their private homes. I don’t think I used toilet paper once, except in Bangalore. Otherwise, there was a small pitcher next to the toilet that you filled with water and poured on your nether regions. I am not well-versed in Indian culture, but is toilet paper a European thing? Perhaps we are the only ones worried about sparing a square, as our Seinfeld’s Elaine once quipped. 🙂

  2. Diane MacEachern May 27, 2007 at 1:54 am #

    I traveled in India in the eighties, too, and I just remember the pit toilets! Definitely no toilet paper there!! No doubt, we can get along without it. On the other hand, it’s not the first thing I’d ask someone to give up if I were trying to convince them to live a greener lifestyle…at least on this side of the world. Thanks for sharing your experiences. 🙂

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