Take a leaf from our ancestors’ book

JAN RODDA is as Freo as you get – qualifying originally in science, she’s long kept an alternative eye on what’s really going on with the environment and what we can do about it. In the wake of toiletpapergate, she finds a novel solution to one of the problems that’s emerged from the novel Coronavirus scare.

WE were going to be a paperless society, they said.

Yet still endless forests are cut down for wiping our bums day after day, and the paper gets flushed away.

What a waste of animal homes, carbon sinks, ground water purifiers, fresh air and rain producers and sheer beauty.

And now with the panic buying of toilet paper due to fears of Coronavirus, seeing the last square of paper on the roll might be pretty scary, right?

Well, you might like to take  a short garden or balcony stroll before your next sit to ease such worries.

Why? Because a humble leaf from the garden can do the trick perfectly. And yes, they flush.

Now here’s some more detail if you are ready for it … amused at least .. curious and willing at best.

• Jan Rodda.

Nasturtium leaves, mulberry, grapevine, various other vines are great and they don’t need to be edible leaves to use as TP. Just not too glossy or brittle, and don’t use any with a milky sap!! About 10×10 centimetres should do, as are the sheets on some standard rolls.

The underside of leaves can be pretty good and less slippery. Some big leaves can be gently torn to size. The different seasons offer a variety of leaves too! Oh, how nice.

Decades ago my house had a blue and white gingham bag hanging on two nails behind the door of the outhouse; this was to store the quarter size torn newspaper sheets. The pull-chain flushing cistern hung  high at the back of the wall. (Pull down quickly three times for ]each flush!) 

I recall Thursdays in our younger days at our Coogee beach shack, the shared dunny in the sand hills because that’s when the man came to  empty the  can of the thunder box.

Blessed be those men.

In some urban areas remnants of laneways still exist for the same now outdated purpose.

Next came septic tanks under the green lawns. But it was 119 years ago that toilet paper rolls as we know them came into being.

Prevent haemorrhoids

Earlier still in 1857 Joseph Gayetty is said to be the inventor of flat sheet commercial TP, with his name apparently on every sheet. The paper was said to “prevent haemorrhoids”!

Of course around the globe there have been and still are different practices, and for at least 60,000 years here in Oz natural materials were used for the job, and that’s a pretty long and proven time.

These days and with urban deep sewerage, the press of a button says bye byes (unless you use a bidet) to ‘quilted’ , ‘plush’, ‘ultra plush’, ‘scented’, ‘angel soft’, ‘extra durable’, ‘unmatched comfort’, ‘impressive durability’  TP. In my experience many types of green leaves match that.

At least in 2004 the production of coloured TP stopped. 

Sacre bleu.

How much did it matter if it did not match the bathroom?  Sales declined when people started to question the medical and ecological impacts of dyes.  And of course there’s more than dyes that matter, recycled  paper or not… although that’s a good start.

One company says 27,000 trees each day are cut down for TP manufacture, but I am unsure if that’s for global or national use. Even though some TP package labels say they are from “responsible forest use”, ought we not consider the water and energy in the manufacture, the cardboard cartons we don’t usually see, at the back of the supermarket and in the shipping containers as well as the travel miles? Local production is pretty much a thing of the past. At least some is still  Australian made.

For uber-local enter, or re-enter green leaves. The tree or plant remains there, healthy to use our CO2 and  to still  pump out O2 for us. And many, many more good reasons exist for using local green leaves in your ’water closet’.  Simply collect on your way for a sit, or bag some for the dunny basket or windowsill each two or so days. And give yourself a smile.

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