Our conversation was heading towards a dead end road. Why? Because my friend had just pulled out what seemed the final, unbeatable argument: Money!
We were discussing why people fail to make ethical choices when they are shopping and he said that most of us simply can't afford to buy organic food, fairtrade clothes and other so-called 'green' products. To make his point he used the example of toilet paper:
“I would love to buy eco toilet paper”, he said, “but it's ridiculously expensive.”
True, it costs about twice as much as normal toilet paper. But still – shouldn't we make an effort to care for the planet that hosts us?
“You only have to buy toilet paper once in a while”, I replied. “If you drank one beer less per month you'd already be able to afford it. Just a question of priorities.”
I use this argument quite often in similar discussions, yet for some strange reason it rarely works. Most of the time I get a look saying, 'Yes, but...'
A healthy planet or more beer – indeed, tough decisions we have to make.
Anyway, some people might not have enough money for neither beer nor eco toilet paper. So is there nothing else you can do? Well, there is something but just like with many other problems we are facing today the solution requires some lateral thinking – and a willingness to get rid of old habits.
If you can't afford eco toilet paper, or if you don't want to spend your precious money on it, then maybe it's an idea to question toilet paper itself. Do we really need it? After all, over one billion Indians live happily without it. And for those of you who have never been to India: No, they are not all dirty pigs over there. I've actually found that Indians look much better after their body hygiene than most Europeans.
How did my friend react to my suggestion?
“But I don't have money to get a bidet installed in my bathroom.”
Yes, sorry, I forgot: All Indians have a bidet, especially those living in little mud huts.
Right, here's what you do: First, get a plastic jug. This one I just got for myself:
Fill the jug with warm water (or cold water, depending on personal preference) and pour it over your lovely bottom using your left hand to do the cleaning. Using the left hand is quite important if you want to avoid potentially awkward situations (since the right hand is commonly used to greet people). Finally, if you don't fancy wet underpants use a towel. That's it. Done.
I don't know if my friend is still laughing at me (which he did at the time) or whether he perhaps got himself a jug too. Who knows... Fact is: Cleaning your arse with water is cheaper, more hygienic and more environmentally friendly than any toilet paper could ever be.
In summary: If we want to find an excuse for not having to change, we'll find one. But likewise, if we want to find a solution, we usually find one too.