/ Home & Energy

Would you use reusable toilet roll?

How far are you willing to go to make your life a little greener? As far as reusable loo roll!? Here’s how things went when I gave it a try.

With living more sustainably very much on everyone’s minds, a number of new things have appeared to help people have a greener lifestyle.

But when it comes to eco-friendly products, did anyone expect an alternative to toilet paper to appear!?

Often called ‘family wipes’ the idea did seem to horrify the internet when they were reported in early 2018.

But one night when I reached for the loo roll only to find we were all out, I decided I’d give the reusable wipes a go.

Never caught short

It was an easy swap for me as I was already washing wipes and nappies for my young son.

As a result, it was relatively easy (and surprising!) for me to get past the ‘ick’ factor. With good washing machine practice and sanitiser designed for nappies, we never had an issue with smells or any nasties.

Using wipes took a bit of getting used to, and I did lose one down the loo in a tired moment of muscle memory but, overall, it worked pretty well for me.

The wipes could be used dry or wet; I had a sealed box for the dirty ones and a cloth bag for the clean ones.

Dirty ones were then tipped into the washing machine along with the nappies, so mucky wipes weren’t being handled.

Would you give it a go!?

Before I knew it, my son had outgrown nappies and I lost the habit of using the reusable wipes as I just couldn’t decide on the best way to wash them.

I could be tempted to start again though, as I’m about to get a new washing machine with a better mini load function.

This experience has raised three questions though, do feel free to answer them in the comments!

๐Ÿšฝ Would you consider using them?

๐Ÿšฝ Have you made any other reusable switches?

๐Ÿšฝ Will you ever be able to look me in the eye again?

Would you use reusable toilet paper?
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Comments

I suspect there’s an inherent contradiction in the word ‘reusable’ in that context. Essentially, all toilet rolls are made from recycled paper, anyway, so the toilet is the ‘end of life’ scenario for a well recycled product. But the real problem emerges with the alternatives; whether ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ wipes are used, they have to be stored until a wash, then put through the washing machine and finally dried (if they’re the ‘dry’ type) and this process is inherently energy-intensive. Not only that, but because the wipes are designed to be reusable they will only degrade quite slowly, but they will degrade and ultimately become unusable. But then disposal becomes the next problem.

Nappy liners themselves can block a drain, so these wipes are probably going to be just as effective in that role. So do they get binned and, if so, are they machine-washed prior to their final resting place?

Without detailed test results it’s impossible to be sure, but I do wonder if these wipes are being touted as ‘saving the planet’ they’re actually doing much of that, or simply using even more power – which means more electricity generation and all the issues that come with that.

But kudos, Abby, as writing that was rather courageous ๐Ÿ™‚

Joining Ian in the kudos to Abby for writing this – definitely a brave one to put out there, but a good debate.

cutler says:
28 January 2020

why not use your hands and wash afterwards even cheaper and more eco friendly. Being born in the country we often used leaves or grass.

Nothing new under the sun ! In the days of wooden sailing Men of War ships, The “heads” were situated at the bow of the ship adjacent to the anchor ports and for the convenience of the sailors there were rags tied to ropes which hung into the sea , these served the obvious purpose and were designated “tow rags”, nowadays often used as an insult and incorrectly spelt toe rags.

Cutler – please read the similar point from Kel Meyler on 12 January and the responses – go to https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/reusable-toilet-roll-family-wipes/#comment-1584846

You mean a hand towel?

Seriously, what is the point? What are we trying to save here? I can’t believe that the average reusable toilet roll is going to be more environmentally sustainable that even paper made from virgin Scandinavian forest pulp. What about all that water, electricity, detergent and disinfectant used to wash the used sheets? I couldn’t bear to hang them on the washing line for the neighbours to see, so they will need tumble drying. And do they need ironing, or are they made of synthetic fibre? How are they recycled at end of life?

If you want to do your bit for the environment, why not install a bidet? Or time it right and add to your daily shower routine.

Quite right Em ๐Ÿ™‚ . The Romans apparently used sponges that they rinsed afterwards. I wonder what others did before toilet paper was invented? Perhaps I don’t.

We use a lot of water to dispose of our waste, or wash the reusables even. As water becomes scarcer that may have to stop. Should we all have waste storage that is emptied by the honey wagon and taken away to be somehow repurposed?

On the nappies front, it was Terry Towels and Napisan for all my kids, with thin nappy liners. Is that better then chucking complete “disposable” nappies away several times a day? I suspect so, despite the extra labour involved.

Apparently, Mexicans used old corn cobs. However, the Internet source for this also says: “The [toilet] paper manufacturers try to find a compromise between durability and a fine writing surface on their product.” Maybe this is the origin of the term “Dear John” letter?

Other types of waste vegetable matter were also used, such as fruit skins, etc., as well as shells (ouch!), and wool for the wealthy.

This is quite an appealing idea (no pun intended). If we could develop the right types of vegetables through genetic engineering, the same product could not only be used to feed us, but provide an inexhaustible supply of paper substitute to clean up afterwards. This would be the most environmentally sustainable process imaginable.

Pineapple anyone?

Are we the only species to bother? Is that because we also are the only species (I think) to wear clothes?

Apparently white paper is not the best choice because producing it requires bleaching.

Since using one side of toilet paper is wasted, maybe a Mรถbius strip would be a solution.

As a scientist, the WWF figure you quote just doesn’t feel right to me. I’ve heard many stupid figures put about for paper production and how we could all save the planet by not printing something and turning the tap off when we brush our teeth. So I’ve done some research …. .

The key performance indicator used by the UK paper industry to measure water consumption is specific water consumption (SWC). This is defined as the amount of water used by a mill
to produce one air-dried tonne (ADt) of paper. SWC is also used by the Environment Agency for compliance standards.

The SWC can range from 20 to 80 cubic metres of water per tonne of paper tissue, with a mean average of 56 cubic metres, depending on the efficiency of the paper mill. A toilet roll weighs slightly over 0.1 kg. As a cubic metre of water = 1,000 litres, I make that 5.6 litres of water per roll of toilet tissue, which seems more likely to me.

Given that that a long flush of the toilet uses 10 litres of water, the water used in manufacturing the toilet roll seems insignificant, by comparison.

Of course we do not “use” water in the same way that we consume oil and other raw materials. Water is the ultimate sustainable resource – and has been for billions of years without our help – provided we do not pollute it with inorganic materials. It is the unnecessary energy used in extracting, purifying or desalination, pumping, cleaning and discharging it back into the environment, that is where the main environmental impact of our water usage occurs.

You don’t have dogs then?

“Since using one side of toilet paper is wasted, maybe a Mรถbius strip would be a solution.”

Nah – someone would get hold of the wrong end…

Kevin says:
11 January 2020

Now you’re just going round in circles.

Kevin says:11 January 2020
Now youโ€™re just going round in circles.

In Two or Three dimensions?

I don’t think I can add to what has been said by Ian and Em. I hope that my lifestyle is more sustainable than average but I’m planning to carry on using toilet roll. Changing the subject slightly, is paper towel one of these products we could live without?

It’s always a hard call, knowing what to do for the best.

I am ashamed to say I use more cling film and plastic food bags that ever. Why? Because I prefer to bake my own bread. It seems to me that transporting compact 1.5 kg paper bags of flour which makes almost 3 kg of finished loaves (the rest being tap water) is more environmentally friendly than buying the bulky polythene-wrapped finished product from the shop.

I’ve noticed that too, and the fact that there are still dispensers that make it difficult to remove a single paper towel.

As Em says, it’s difficult to know what is best. I make single loaves in a breadmaker, which probably needs more electricity than batch baking. At least it saves driving to the shops.

Please don’t reply to my previous post, it is being moved to sustainability as it is off-topic here.

malcolm ….๐Ÿ™„

IKEA do a range of plastic containers. Any good? This one is 1.7 l and seems breadmaker loaf shaped.?f=xs

Em, I have replied to your post here as it is going off-topic:
https://conversation.which.co.uk/sustainability/sustainable-living/#comment-1584922

Too late ๐Ÿ™

Just a little more to the culture on Romans… their sponge used to be mounted/lashed to the end of a stick – and the stick used to be dunked and swished in a bath before being collected for use by the next candidate. And this is where the phrase “got hold of the wrong end of the stick” started. True.

Could what was actually said be “summitatem virgรฆ excipiat iniuriam”. I’ve no idea and couldn’t get hold of Jacob R-M or Ian H to check.

Si hoc legere scis, nimis eruditionis habes…

Just so Ian. Perhaps a little strong Malcolm, one hopes the stick is not too injurious when used correctly.
Suo motu – in camera. Finem respice!
By ones’ own “motion” – in private – look to the end.

All brings to mind The Groom of the Stool in Medieval days. Fascinating where our words originate.

I think this is a revolting idea. It’s bad enough in countries like Cyprus where one can’t put loo paper into the loo and it all goes into a horrible bin next to the loo instead. But this idea is much much worse!

The most environmentally-friendly solution is what they have in Japan – the loo washes you with water and even dries you afterwards. It’s also much more hygienic.

The “horrible bin” should be designed sufficiently well – PHS and other similar companies produce some exceptional arrangements for such disposals (ordinarily in ladies’ loos).

Incidentally, the wash and dry WCs are affectionately known as Job Blows. Can’t think why…

I thought I was quite forward-thinking/open-minded but I’m not sure I’d be up for this. I think sticking to it, long-term, would show real dedication to the cause but I can’t imagine it would be something most people would be happy to do unless they were forced to. On the one hand it sounds along similar lines to reusable sanitary products (what do statistics say about those) but I think that in reality what you’re dealing with are two entirely different things, attitude-wise. Well done for trying it, though, Abby.

Maybe something that Which? should be trialing?

I look forward to the launch of the Swatch with Which? micro website.

I think sticking to it, long-term, would show real dedication to the cause”

๐Ÿ™‚

OK, I’m willing to come clean and admit to using small cotton terry wipes (meant for babies) for wee only. They go into a lidded bin and get washed with white towels and underwear every few days. Poo is a step too far at the moment but the time is probably coming…..!

According to these statistics, the UK is one of the biggest users of toilet paper, a little behind the US and Germany: https://www.statista.com/chart/15676/cmo-toilet-paper-consumption/

Brazil and China do much better.

Without wishing to pooh pooh Statista’s statistics, they bear further investigation and raise the question of what is done with toilet paper.

UK – 127 rolls per crapita per year? Really? At, say, 200 sheets per roll this means you, I and the rest use, on average, 70 shts per day (127×200/365).

I wonder what Statista’s statistics are for the per capita annual consumption of syrup of figs?

๐Ÿ™‚ I was going to make a similar comment, Malcolm, but I could not find an estimate of alternative uses such as throwing rolls at football matches. Maybe they don’t do that in Brazil and China.

This is where journalists trip up – taking data they are fed at face value without giving it some basic examination. I wonder what Statista got wrong, if, of course they did – we may have missed something fundamental; it is not, I suspect, a (lack of) the decimal point although that would bring it down to 7 a day. The same data is reproduced on other links. This data is free in summary but charged for in detail. Let’s hope Kimberley Clark aren’t building more factories as a result unless they are also into Senna plantations.

However, somewhere there is probably a simple explanation……..

Apparently 70-75% of the world do not use toilet paper.

That’s right, and it seems to be because unless human faeces are infected with parasites ingestion isn’t normally harmful.

What about the faecal-oral route in food poisoning and transmission of disease?

Many rolls of toilet tissue are used in primary schools for art etc. Not sure it brings the average up to 70 shi.. sheets per day.

Wave: yes, indeed. From what I’ve been able to discover, most of the danger lies in places where open defecation and open food prep takes place. And a person already diseased will obviously provide a pathway for infection, but it does seem as though the most dangerous contamination originates with insect vectors – mosquitoes being the most prevalent.

You’re obviously far better placed to comment in this field. I had read that human faeces from disease-free humans won’t normally cause serious illness in the recipient. Does that make sense?

It’s not a subject I have studied, but I certainly support teaching children (and adults) about practising good hygiene to protect themselves and others. Gut flora differs between people and even individuals can change, particularly after antibiotic treatment. Thanks to clean drinking water we don’t have to worry about cholera etc. in this country.

I think it was you who pointed out the risk of insect-borne diseases spreading with climate change. I remember reading this in New Scientist years ago, but now it seems more likely.

I’ve been doing some more research on alternatives to toilet paper. It seems the Japanese company TOTO make a high-tech product called the Washlet, which is also available as a retrofit for an existing toilet bowl. When can we expect Which? to do a first look review?

It seems more relevant to today’s world than Nespresso capsules. Also think of the benefits for people with a disability, who are unable to use the toilet fully without assistance.

Good point re disabled, Enm. I’ve often thought that the all-in-one WC would be worthwhile as a retrofit when that occasion arises.

A very good point. It can’t be much fun to have to rely on others to wipe your backside.

It makes sense to have a combined toilet and bidet and electric heating of water gets round the problem of supplying water at the correct temperature.

… and it only needs a low wattage supply as the system could store a pint or so which would be warmed back up in the time it takes for a typical 2-gallon cistern to recharge, and the either/or crossover from “hair dryer” to water heater mode would ensure maximum unimpeded drying power.

I looked at the spec for one of the Toto units and it gave a figure of around 1.5 kW โ€“ a lot less than a typical electric shower. The bidet brought up to date seems to make a lot more sense than washable toilet towels.

I’m not sure about the models with a remote control. I can guess what might happen to that. ๐Ÿ™

What an invitation …… ๐Ÿ™„

๐Ÿ™‚ Try Ctrl + Alt + Del

I bet that p***ed her off… I wonder if her younger brother is named Montezuma…

I wasn’t intending to enter this Conversation but I can’t hold on any longer.

I feel that the sooner this crackpot notion of reusable toilet tissue is put where it belongs the better.

Having achieved a degree of civilised sanitary hygiene in this part of the world I have no appetite for regressing for all the reasons that have already been given. With all the other thousands of objectionable practises and products that threaten this planet I think people’s personal toilet arrangements are not a high priority. Toilet tissue is made from waste paper and fibre and the water involved is not ‘used’ in the sense of spent and wasted but is recycled for further duty. Most of the other production elements would arise in some form or another whatever alternative arrangements were made.

Just think for a moment about public toilets, staff washrooms, schools, hotels and other facilities. Can what people do in the exclusivity and idealism of their own homes be safely translated to other places? Would we not end up with commercial supplies of wipes, each hermetically sealed in a resealable plastic wrap, to be disposed of in some foot-operated receptacle that needs to be frequently emptied, sterilised, and maintained hygienically? Is that likely to be 100% reliable given the known propensity for people to deviate from the recommended behaviour? I foresee blocked toilets and sewers and floors awash with effluent.

No thank you.

I’ll do anything for sustainability but I won’t do that.

As you say, there are many complications.

According to this article, the amount of recycled paper in toilet tissue is decreasing: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/05/toilet-paper-less-sustainable-researchers-warn

I agree with you John. Having been to Greece where wipes go in a bin, no thank you. When the weather is hot, the area will be buzzing with flies. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

This convo is missing something important

It’s already been found that there are lots of microplastic particles in the oceans and in the water we drink

It’s there because our water treatment plants can’t filter them out. And they get there because of all the plastic waste floating in the sea, and all the Dettol hand wipes flushed down toilets, which are made of plastic

I’m guessing these reusable toilet wipes are also made of the same plastic? Then they will contribute too to the plastic waste and microparticles we drink. And marine life will end up drinking them, so they end up in the fish we eat

Toilet paper is biodegradeable. Plastic isn’t

Is using a washable toilet wipe really an eco friendly choice?

Is this the future:

The future, no. A mobile phone app or even Alexa interface, maybe sound activated, is the way to go.

Although I would like to ensure any a dump restore options are permanently disabled.

Kel Meyler says:
12 January 2020

What is wrong with using your fingers to wipe your bum then wash your hands, isn’t that eco friendly do away with toilet paper and wipes all together.

If that’s your preference you can do that, but there is a high and serious risk of transferring bacteria to other bathroom fittings and the taps and washbasin. Performing a thorough wash of all the affected places to remove all traces would not be reliable and would take some time.

Bacteria could also get from the waste outflow into streams and watercourses if the basin waste is not connected directly to the sewage system but goes into the surface water drainage system [as is the case in many properties].

E.coli contamination can have extremely unpleasant consequences and it would be irresponsible to risk transferring the contamination to places where other people could come in contact with it; that risk would be multiplied if the enclosure containing the toilet did not have any hand-washing facility.

Your clothes would probably also pick up some soiling and contamination from your fingers which is not a good outcome.

I hope you will think again and realise that dicing with public health as you suggest would be bad and tie up medical resources unnecessarily.

Remind me not to shake hands with anyone named Kel. ๐Ÿ™‚

I do hope that those who wash reusable nappies disinfect them beforehand because water from washing machines does not go into the sewer in modern housing. ๐Ÿ’ฉ

I never realised that Wave… so they discharge presumably to surface drains? Not clever from my perspective – who knows what gets chucked into washing machines, and particularly with low temperature… glad mine goes to the sewer.

Sorry Roger. What I said was not correct, but it can happen when waste pipes get mixed up, particularly when houses are modified.

Modern housing developments often have soakaways for rainwater (surface water) collected from the roof and a sewer connected to toilets. Alternatively there may be a separate drain for surface water. Water from washing machines, dishwashers, showers and baths should go into the sewer but in practice this does not always happen.

Pollution in surface water affects rivers, canals and other water courses: https://www.theriverstrust.org/2019/07/18/drain-misconnections/

Normally, waste water from the house goes into the sewer pipe, as may “surface” (e.g. roof) water from your house gutters. My water company, I assume in common with others, gives a rebate if your surface water is run into soakaways rather than discharged into their system.

I wonder how many customers are aware of this and have their water bill reduced? Rebates can be backdated. Details should appear on your paper bill but may not be terribly conspicuous, particularly if you are not looking for them.

I remember an earlier discussion when you claimed a rebate, Malcolm. Did the company inspect the property or did it involve self-declaration?

About 20 miles from where I live there is a town where, according to the Environment Agency, a problem with misconnected drains and it’s very difficult to track down which properties are involved.

My company does this through an online form and includes
Please provide details of where your surface water dispenses to, e.g. soakaway, natural water course. You may be asked to provide evidence to support your application“.
and
I agree to allow an authorised representative of ####### access to the above property, at a mutually convenient time, to test drainage services if required.
Essentially a self declaration with possible checks. Straightforward.

I wonder how many people know where their surface water drains? I did, because we dug our soakaways and routed the pipes!

Thanks Malcolm.

The discharge of domestic waste water into surface water drains tends to happen where large houses have been altered and additional wash-basins and showers have been installed. The pipework is run down, sometimes via an open hopper, to a surface water gully. Such illegal connections are quite common in London apparently. Toilets should never be connected in this way but the growth in the use of macerators is a concern.

One of our soakaway downpipes has stopped draining away in heavy rain so needs redoing. It used to drain away OK (we can tell where it is by the extra soggy lawn that sinks when it dries out), but clearing to the bottom of the downpipe there is no onward pipe to take it to the soakaway spot, so must be a gravel channel or something.

Trouble is the drainage goes under 2 concrete paths. โ˜น๏ธ

John wrote: “Such illegal connections are quite common in London apparently.”

According to Thames Water: “Across the Thames region, plumbing mistakes result in up to one in ten households misconnecting their waste appliances to the surface water system and in some parts of London this is as many as one in three homes.” https://www.thameswater.co.uk/help-and-advice/drains-and-sewers/misconnected-pipes/foul-and-surface-water-sewers

Add to this the houseboats and other craft that discharge grey water into the Thames.

In Scotland the cruising industry was forced, more than 20 years ago, to build waste tanks on all their craft and grey water dumping was made illegal. Sadly, that only applies on canals and in freshwater lochs.

I thought that this applied to black water (sewage) rather than grey water (from sinks, showers and baths). There is a requirement to have a holding tank for grey water in some countries: https://www.rya.org.uk/knowledge-advice/boating-abroad/Pages/holding-tanks.aspx

We are getting off our topic of reusable toilet roll โ€“ thank goodness. I wonder if any of our contributors has a bidet and uses it.

Mistakes are accidental. The wrong plumbing connections are almost always deliberate. But there are no qualifications or professional standards for plumbers and ignorance of building regulations and water regulations can be very convenient.

We have a bidet in one of our bathrooms ,but the only use it ever saw was when our youngest tried it just after we’d moved in.

Mistakes are accidental. In an older house we’d bought, I remember one summer thinking it would be useful to remove all the old lead pipes we no longer needed. It was a largish house, so had servant bells in each main room and had been fitted with an old back-boiler adjacent to the butler’s pantry (we never had a butler, BTW). Upstairs, in the main bathroom, I’d found the cut off stems of old lead piping and, immediately below in the kitchen, there were the corresponding number of old lead pipes.

As I could clearly see the cut off stems upstairs, it clearly made sense that the old pipes were empty, so I took a hacksaw to them in the kitchen.

I can’t remember being as wet when I wasn’t swimming. Somewhere, there must have been a connection I’d missed to the old back boiler, because a lot of water poured out of the hacksawed pipe onto me and thence all over the floor and out through the rear door.

That was one mistake. The other occurred when I was fitting a self-tapping pipe to the water pipe in the old Butler’s pantry. All went quite well until I triumphantly turned the tap on and gas hissed out. I’d inadvertently tapped into the gas main and, although I suppose I could have tried making my own version of a gas tumble drier, I decided it was was safer and easier to get a professional in to do the job. After that escapade, we decided my skills lay elsewhere and certainly not in DIY…

My family bought a house with a bidet in one of the bathrooms. I’m not sure if they ever used it, but now the water is shut off and it is used to store spare toilet rolls. ๐Ÿ™

Andrew Winton says:
13 January 2020

Over the last few years I have noticed that the quality of toilet paper – the strength of the paper not to tear – has dramatically reduced. I previously used a double sheet folded, now it has to be a triple sheet if I do not want it to tear.
This seems to be standard over many manufacturers in the UK as I have tried many options to get better strength paper. The silly thing is that Lidl sell the better quality in France but not in the UK.

I noticed this a while ago, but put it down to skin hardening over the years…

I remember the thin glazed sheets, in rolls and boxes, from my young days. You could indulge in nostalgia:
Vintage Izal Toilet Roll Medicated Toilet Paper Old School ยฃ8.99 + ยฃ2.99 postage

Toilet Paper Vintage – Bronco Medicated Paper 1920’s – 1930’s.
ยฃ15.00 ยฃ2.85 Economy delivery

If you want a cheaper offering, try the pre-owned version:
1946 Maximum Controlled Prices For The New Bronco Deluxe Toilet Paper
ยฃ5.00 + ยฃ1.60 postage
โ€ข Used condition

Good Lord! That stuff was useful as tracing paper but not a lot else. It didn’t claim Klingons but spread them far and wide!

Shrinkflation in roll size from 700 to 200 sheets! However, although “modern” toilet paper costs around 0.3p a sheet, and this Bronco was the equivalent of 0.01p, in real terms, given inflation, we pay around 30% less than in 1946.

Modern toilet tissue might be useful for chitting seeds; just put them in moist tissue for a couple of days in a container before sowing them.

Perhaps we should have a list of other uses for the stuff to try to determine how we supposedly use 7 rolls each every day (according to Statista)?

Another use for that stuff was wrapping it around a comb, holding it to your lips and making music by humming through it.

Was the roll the luxury version as it was more expensive?

Hah! That triggered a memory, Alfa. I well remember doing exactly that at school. At one point we had a four-part toilet roll and comb band.

Yep, we did something similar in the school playground, was more like a cats choir though.

Ah yes – the comb-and-paper band. After a while I upgraded my instrument to a Kazoo!

not keen on the idea at all

Abby, something I have been busting to ask……… ๐Ÿค”

What do visitors do when they visit?

John Creasey says:
14 January 2020

So herein lies the problem when you just login and scan through comments !

I’m reading about ‘re-usable toilet paper’ and this comment leaps out at me…..

“Itโ€™s always a hard call, knowing what to do for the best.
I am ashamed to say I use more cling film and plastic food bags than ever.”

Phew! Thank heavens I checked back before trying that one.

(with much respect to the author for having taken out of context)

LOL๐Ÿ˜†

Conversations here tend to evolve and diverge much as they would when talking face to face. We do try and keep on topic but one thing often leads to another . . . . .

I posted then thought it should have gone elsewhere, so posted to say don’t reply to my previous post as I was moving it. Too late, malcolm posted before also posting in the other convo. Meanwhile, my original post has been deleted as requested, some of the thread is still there leading to your confusion. (Does that make sense? ๐Ÿค”

Still, at least there was enough thread left to know Em hadn’t actually replaced toilet roll with cling film!

Country born and bred.
We always used grass, or preferably dock leaves.
If old newspaper was available it was cut into small squares, a hole cut in one corner, threaded with string and hung on a convenient hook.
When the bucket was full it went onto the compost heap to be later used in the garden.
Basically the same as the farmer spreading the cow muck over his fields as fertilisation for his crops.
Guess it was the Roman officer class that used sponges!

Human excreta contains pathogenic bacteria, so using untreated sewage on crops is risky. Proper processing makes it safe.

Pretty good for the roses, though…

Way back when, my mother used to send me out into the road with a bucket and shovel after the dustcart horse had had his oats and relieved himself. She said she wanted to put the manure on the rhubarb despite me saying I preferred custard. We did have some superb rhubarb and other vegetables though; the baker’s and the milkman’s horses also obliged and the milkman’s horse used to drag the milk-float up the pavement, lean over the hedge and eat our hollyhocks. What goes around comes around.