Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Family Cloth... Really??

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


The first time I really read about "Family Cloth" was on OrganicSister.com. I thought it was a nice, green idea... but a little too far out there for this self-proclaimed "slightly crunchy momma." Still... I read the entire thing with some fascination.
Visit Natural Parents Network
I've since gotten more involved in some crunchy circles and heard mention of others that practice the use of family cloth. As you may (or may not) recall, in October we traveled to a gathering of just such a crunchy circle (the Natural Parents Network Volunteers).

Visit Code Name: MamaThis was to be my very first in-person experience with family cloth. Our host (Code Name: Mama) offered regular toilet paper, but I immediately recognized a stack of family cloth in a basket on the back of the toilet. After looking around a bit, I realized that the bag on the doorknob was a "wet bag." I could hardly believe I was in the situation. So... I tried it! What did I have to lose?

Our host let us know that we were ALL welcome to use the Family Cloth if we'd like to do so. One of my very first impressions of my stay was feeling pampered. Using such soft cloth as opposed to paper (no mater how quilted) just felt so nice! My husband was a bit grossed out at the idea at first, but people always jump to "for poop?!" No, it seems most people do not use family cloth for poop, though some certainly do. (I asked our host about menstruation and she chooses not to use it then, either.) He actually used the family cloth on Sasha whenever he took her to the restroom, too! (I was so proud of him!)

Since October, the idea of family cloth (and having my own) has been percolating in the back of my mind. I even asked Code Name: Mama to write a guest post, possibly a tutorial for my blog. She also shared with me an old post she wrote on the topic. (That article has a ton of great information!) Since then we have had a video chat and she gave me a quick crash course on how to make my own! (Tune in tomorrow for a tutorial on my Wordless Wednesday!)

I started cutting my cloth on November 22nd. I got my first handful of them sewn that night. Once I got the first batch (of 16) done, I stacked them in my closet in our tiny room. After a few days I figured I probably ought to try using them! I started taking one into the shared bathroom with me. Since then, I have made a space in the bathroom for them to stay. I also made a second batch (of 15) plus a tiny batch of (4) smaller ones for Sasha. And that's where it occurred to me... Sasha uses a BBLP and I've always just kept a burp rag nearby for "pat pat patting" after she goes potty. So... I was already using cloth on her all along!

In a household of 6, we were really flying through the toilet paper, especially with me being in my third trimester! I believe we're using a lot less TP! I'm the only one using it and I just toss each cloth into my regular hamper (in our room) when I'm done. I haven't noticed any foul smells at all (and the hamper sits right next to my bed).

Family cloth seemed like such a far-fetched crazy idea at first, even though I realize that toilet paper hasn't always been around. A little exposure to real people that use it made a huge difference for me. It made the idea seem more realistic.

When I explained the project to my teenage daughter, she immediately let me know that she was not going to use it. I told her that was fine, I was not going to force her to use family cloth. I went on to explain how pampering it was, though. I also gave her some "fun facts" I learned from the Code Name: Mama post I linked above. Then she seemed a bit more receptive to the idea. I mean, who wants to wipe themselves with carcinogens?? So far, though, Sasha and I are the only ones actually using the family cloth. And we love it! Thirty-one sounds like plenty, but I think I'd like to have MORE. I even mentioned to my husband that this was something I could make / sell on Etsy! I may not feel the need for more once I'm washing cloth diapers on the regular.

I will say that one main problem is learning not to throw the cloth into the toilet! I did that twice on our trip. I just fetched the cloth out, rinsed it, squeezed out the excess water, and put the cloth into the wet bag. I have not yet made the same mistake at home! Sasha almost has, but I caught her. I think I confused her because I blew my nose on toilet paper while she was going and I threw that into the toilet. She has dropped the cloth into her BBLP, but not the big toilet.

Yeah, I know, why am I using TP for my nose but cloth elsewhere? I'm workin' on it, folks. I'm workin' on it. Besides, I often use a burp rag to blow my nose, so there!

In case you're interested, here is another article on Family Cloths: Frugal or Freaky? I'm sure there are tons of articles on Family Cloth, though, especially during this carnival!

What "out there" green idea have you tried implementing in your home?
Was your family supportive?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Make your own moisturizer! — Megan at boho mama whips up a winter skin-friendly moisturizer.
  • Cold Water Only — Brittany at The Pistachio Project talks about how you do not need hot water to wash laundry.
  • Family Cloth... Really?? — After lots of forethought and consideration, Momma Jorje finally decides to take the plunge with family cloth.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : 5-5-5 Things A Day — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about decluttering her home in an attempt to create a gentler living space. She takes on a new project where she sets a goal of reducing, reusing and recycling every day.
  • Pros and cons of family cloth — Lauren at Hobo Mama would love to continue replacing paper products with family cloth … if she could only get over how damp she feels.
  • Craftily Parenting — Kellie at Our Mindful Life finds that crafting makes her a better parent.
  • Changes — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen couldn't choose just one area to experiment with, so she wrote a long post about all the fun changes initiated in her life!
  • Life without Internet: Not all it's Cracked up to Be — Adrienne at Mommying My Way tries to go a week without the Internet, only to realize a healthy dose of Internet usage really helps keep this stay-at-home mom connected.
  • My Progression to Raw Milk — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares her natural parenting progression all the way to trying raw milk.
  • mama's new little friend. — Sarah at Bitty Bird tries a menstrual cup to "green her period," and is pleasantly surprised when she falls in love with the product!
  • Before you throw it out, try homemade laundry soap! — Jennifer at Practical OH Mommy shows visual proof that homemade laundry soap is cheaper, easier, and works better than the store-bought chemicals!
  • Oil, Oil, No Toil, No Trouble — K from Very Simple Secret talks about her foray into the oil-cleansing method.
  • I Need a Hobby — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro couldn't decide which experiment to run, so she did them all.
  • 7 days of macrobiotics for a balanced family — The Stones make a [successful] attempt to release the "holiday junking" with 7 days of macrobiotic meals to balance their bodies and souls. Elisabeth at Manic Mrs. Stone includes an explanation of macrobiotics.
  • Chemical Free Beauty Challenge — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction turned to natural alternatives for her daily beauty and cleaning routine, with great results.
  • Greening my Armpits!? My Green Resolution — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about how she decided to give up her traditional antiperspirant and make the switch over to crystal deodorants and definitely isn't looking back!
  • Going Raw (for a while) — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares her family's experience with raw food.
  • Do we get to eat gluten today? — Sheila at A Gift Universe has been trying to figure out if her son does better with or without gluten in his diet … but it's really hard to tell for sure.
  • Hippies Can Smell and Look Fabulous Too! — Arpita of Up, Down And Natural details her experience of going shampoo-free and overhauling her cosmetics to find the balance between feeling beautifully fabulous and honoring her inner hippie.
  • Our cupboards are full...but there's nothing to eat — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud takes on the challenge of chomping through the contents of her storecupboard rather than going shopping — but there's something that she just can't bring herself to do …
  • Elimination Experiment 3.0MudpieMama recounts the messy adventures of her baby daughter trying to be diaper free.
  • Family Cloth Trial — Amyables at Toddler in Tow talks about making and using family cloth wipes in the bathroom for the first time.
  • Taking a Hiatus — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares how her experience of much less internet interaction affected her family and how it will change her approach in the future.
  • Trying Out the Menstrual Cup — Lindsey at an unschooling adventure ditches the tampons and gives menstrual cups a try.
  • Managing Food Waste in Our Home — Tired of the holiday waste, Robbie at Going Green Mama takes a weeklong focus on reducing food waste in her home, and learns some lessons that can take her through the new year.
  • Going Offline, Cloth Tissues, and Simplicity — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses over her time away from blogging and social networking. In addition, she shares her newfound love of cloth tissues and simplicity.
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