Disposing of toilet paper by flushing it down the toilet may seem like the most obvious choice, but sometimes there are scenarios when flushing isn’t the best option.
Having a plan ahead of time makes it easier to know what to do with your toilet paper in any situation. Learn some of the best ways to dispose of toilet paper.
Disposing Toilet Paper – To Flush or Throw?
There is another option. While flushing the toilet paper down the toilet is the most common option, it is also acceptable to put toilet paper in the garbage can.
Flushing is the cleanest, most convenient way to dispose of toilet paper, but other disposal methods are effective when done correctly.
There are many times when the usual toilet paper disposal isn’t an option, such as camping, emergencies while traveling, RV travel, and broken or backed-up plumbing.
When deciding how to dispose of toilet paper, it is essential to consider whether the product will properly disintegrate in the sewer system.
Using the wrong toilet paper can damage sewer systems and cause thousands of dollars in repairs.
When toilet paper is flushed, 95% of it dissolves, but 5% becomes a kind of sludge that can build up in the pipes and cause damage to pipes, and even slips through the cleaning process.
Toilet paper is the only thing that you should flush. Tampons, napkins, paper towels, and “disposable wipes” are not flushable.
Older sewer systems break down over time and excessive build up in the pipes becomes costly. While flushing is the easiest solution, it isn’t always best.
Many countries with older sewage systems require that toilet paper be thrown in the garbage instead of flushed because the pipes cannot manage the extra product.
Toilet paper thrown away ends up in landfills, which can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and take longer to break down than it would in water. Either way, toilet paper is harmful.
There is a type of toilet paper that is recyclable, but they often have BPA and other chemicals, which are endocrine disruptors and can contribute to many health issues in humans.
Another alternative is a bidet. This would give the option to go almost entirely waste-free and is the most environmentally friendly option.
A bidet is a small fountain-like device that uses water pressure to clean the body. It uses a small amount of toilet paper for a base clean, and then water does the rest.
Bidets are becoming more popular in the US and have been popular in Europe for years. It is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to clean up.
Cloth Toilet Paper
Another environmentally sound option is to use washable cloth toilet paper. Cloth toilet paper is similar to cloth diapers in that the waste is just collected and then cleaned in the washing machine.
Cloth toilet paper might not be the number one choice even for the most eco-friendly people, but there are ways to do it safely and sanitary. When toilet paper can be hard to come by, this is a great choice.
When camping, toilets are not an option. Occasionally, an outhouse will be available where you can place toilet paper in a hole that has been prepared for disposal.
When camping and there are no outhouses, digging a hole in the woods at least 200 feet from any water source is the best way to dispose of waste and toilet paper.
Preferably, leaves should be used instead of paper, but if that is not an option, the toilet paper should be buried with the waste. Some places require you to pack out your waste, not leave it in the forest.
Also read: Are Kleenex Boxes Recyclable?
Things to Consider When Disposing Toilet Paper
There are many things to consider regarding disposal choices. Knowing about these will make it more economical, sanitary, and efficient to dispose of toilet paper.
Awareness of rules and regulations in your country, community, or campsite will ensure that proper disposal is easy.
When flushing toilet paper, use as little as possible to not cause a blockage within the toilet or sewer system. Bulk paper can gather together and get stuck, causing damage and mess.
Large amounts of paper also take longer to disintegrate, which will cause it to collect in pipes and make it difficult to get smaller pieces past.
It turns out that most people use a lot of toilet paper. However, knowing how much toilet paper to use can be a challenge. Men use almost half as much as women, though. On average, people flush the toilet 2,500 times per year.
Men will use one roll of two-ply toilet paper on average per month, while women use approximately one per week.
Type of Paper
The type of toilet paper matters, too. Heavy-duty or multi-ply toilet paper takes longer to dissolve and collects in sewer pipes. The single-ply paper will disintegrate much more quickly and protect pipes.
Some brands also have different materials and will dissolve faster depending on how the fabrics are quilted together.
There are recyclable options as well as toilet paper made from recycled materials. However, keep in mind that flushable wipes are not the same as toilet paper and should never be flushed.
Age of Your Sewer System
Older pipes were smaller and made from materials that break down over time. So if your sewer system is old, it might be worth looking into replacing the lines with updated materials.
Broken pipes cause paper and waste to catch within them and if non-paper items have been flushed as well, they can back up into your home.
Newer systems are much less likely to encounter trouble with pipes backing up. Waste and paper products pass through more easily.
Also read: Is Tissue Paper Biodegradable?
To Flush or Not to Flush
Whatever you decide, and depending on your situation, there are many options for how to dispose of toilet paper and even more alternative options.
Being prepared for anything is part of proper waste management.
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