Watching the Bottom Line: The Grasshoppers Say Ta-Ta To Toilet Paper

I feel like we’ve known each other long enough for a rather personal confession. Here it is: The Grasshoppers have bid adieu to toilet paper for environmental, health-based, but mostly economic reasons.

I grew up in a culture that doesn’t do toilet paper. My people use water instead. So, while I have traveled extensively and was certainly no stranger to the concept of toilet paper, I did not embrace it as the sole means of (*ahem*) my toilette until I was in my late teens.

Grasshopper Evolution

There are times in this household when Mr. Grasshopper will walk into a bathroom and grumble that there is hardly any toilet paper left. This will inevitably turn into a (half-joking) conversation about who uses more toilet paper, and its cost. I occasionally suggested that we should install a hand-held bidet spray, which was a mainstay in my childhood homes. Unfortunately, neither adult Grasshopper had any particular urge to do the needful, and change our lifestyle so completely.



But, like everything else in our life, the quest for Financial Independence (and the paramount need to let Baby G get an uninterrupted afternoon nap) has been the ultimate change agent.

When Mr. Grasshopper walked into the bathroom today, he quickly noticed that he was out of toilet paper. Not surprisingly, he pleaded for a new roll. I refused to retrieve it from the upstairs storage cabinet, which is right beside Baby G’s bedroom. No sane parent of any toddler would EVER be stupid enough to go rifling around a storage closet with its multitude of crinkly odds and ends when a toddler is peacefully snoozing. Certainly not this one. Nope. Nada. Not doing it.

Since Mr. Grasshopper was literally in no position to argue, I pounced on my opportunity to make a lifestyle change and instructed him to use water instead. I foresee a hand-held bidet sprayer in our future.

For anyone who is curious about the “how-tos” of this form of personal hygiene, I refer you to this very elucidating link. 

arrow, direction, guide


And, as always, don’t forget to wash your hands Gentle Reader.

Grayscale Photography of Hand


Happily, Mr. Grasshopper didn’t murder me for the impromptu lesson in personal hygiene. He was, in fact, pretty cheery and repeatedly told me that he felt refreshed and cleaner after using water. Good for him since he will soon notice a lack of handy toilet paper around this house.

We have decided to keep a few rolls for guests, but shan't be buying the regular stash for ourselves any longer.

The Numbers

“…the average person uses 57 sheets of toilet paper per day. With that in mind, you can estimate costs pretty easily. A typical brand’s 12-pack retails for $6.99 and has 352 sheets per roll, meaning that it will last a family of four about 18 to 19 days. That means that family needs to buy a 12-pack about 20 times per year, putting the annual toilet-tissue costs around $140.” 

I’m pretty sure the Grasshoppers spend more than that on toilet paper, but the cost is not the only issue with the tissue.

Health Effects of Toilet Paper

Toilet paper causes various health issues, and can even be toxic. Here’s an excellent article outlining the potential harmful effects of toilet paper. 

Possible short-term side effects

  • lacerations leading to infection

Possible long-term side effects

  • skin disorders
  • poor immune system
  • hormone imbalance
  • decreased fertility
  • birth defects
  • cancer

Ingredients to be aware of

The Environment

According to some researchers, toilet paper is making more of an impact on the environment than gas-guzzling SUVs.

With Americans using an average of 7 billion rolls of toilet paper a year, and a typical tree provides about 1,000 rolls of toilet paper, we’re using 7 million trees just to wipe our butts every year.

This waste of wood is even more shocking when you compare the amount of water needed to wash your bottom the old-fashioned way versus the amount of water used in manufacturing toilet paper. The former requires a “trivial” amount of water compared to water wasted in the production of toilet paper.

Biolife Technologies, manufacturer of the high-end line of Coco bidets, says the amount of water used by a typical bidet is about 1/8th of a gallon, with the average toilet using about four gallons per flush. Lloyd Alter of the website reports that making a single roll of toilet paper requires 37 gallons of water, 1.3 kilowatt/hours (KWh) of electricity and some 1.5 pounds of wood. Thomas points out that toilet paper is also a public nuisance in that it clogs pipes and adds a significant load onto city sewer systems and water treatment plants.

We’re Not Alone

Because I was curious about whether we were alone in this lifestyle change, I checked out the Mr. Money Mustache forum. Here’s a thread about another Mustachian who recommends installing a bidet.  While we don’t want to spend the $$$ to renovate and add a full size bidet to our bathroom, the hand-held bidet provides an economical alternative.

What do you think about this change? What is the zaniest thing that you have done to save a buck (and save the environment)??

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