In American society today, there is a steadily growing emphasis on recycling, reusing, and protecting the environment in any way you can. Instead of throwing bottles and cans into the trash can, and eventually into the dump, people toss them into recycle bins, where they are recycled into reusable containers. The recycling industry has ballooned to include paper, plastic bags, cardboard, and all sorts of other previously disposed items. So it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea of recycling―toilet paper.
Cloth toilet paper, which is also known as 'family cloth', or 'family wipes', is an interesting idea that many people find bizarre, but whose popularity is growing. The concept is pretty much identical to cloth diapers, only the cloth is used by the whole family and not just babies. Cloth wipes can be constructed out of just about any soft fabric, and it doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, the simplest way to break into the family cloth experience is to just look in your closet or dresser drawers. Any old t-shirts or clothing made from knit or cotton fabric will make excellent family cloths, as will any clothing made from fleece, such as sweatshirts or sweatpants. If you don't have enough old clothes of your own, you can ask friends or relatives if they have any, make a trip to the thrift store, or spend a Saturday morning yard sale shopping. A large fleece sheet or blanket can easily yield a dozen or more family cloths.
You can also purchase fabric from a fabric store if you want to pick out something with a fun or unique pattern. Most stores that sell fabric have a mark-down clearance bin or table, but if you don't have a tight budget you can spend a little more to get something suited to your family and your own tastes. Fleece is the easiest and softest fabric to use for a family cloth, and it comes in a variety of great patterns and colors. Depending on the size of your family and how often you want to do the laundry, you'll probably have to buy a few yards of fabric.
The only supply you need to make family cloths is scissors. To make cloth toilet paper using old clothes, simply cut off all the seams, hems, collars, cuffs, buttons, sleeves, and pockets, leaving just a piece of unadorned fabric. Cut out squares of fabric about 5"×5", and you're done. You can do variations if you want to―larger squares, circles, or rectangles. Some people even go to the trouble of sewing two squares together, to make the cloth thicker and more absorbent.
There are many websites online that sell family cloths, and you can get them for good prices in a variety of fabrics and prints. If you check out online forums discussing family cloths, you will find stories of personal experiences people have had, and most of them say that after using the cloths for a while, they will never go back to traditional toilet paper. Not only is toilet paper expensive compared to family cloths, it is not nearly as comfortable and is hard on the environment. The savings afforded by family cloths is enough to convince many folks, but even if you don't care about the cost, consider the environment, and not only from using the toilet paper. It takes millions of trees to create the toilet paper, lots of fuel to make and ship large shipments all over the country, and then the cost and complexity of handling toilet paper in water treatment plants.
It is easier than you think to make and use your own family cloths. They are softer, more economical, cheap to create and use. Family cloth toilet paper will save your wallet as well as saving the earth.