In the bathroom we can do better. Ignore the adverts, ignore the puppies. You do not need: 3-ply, extra-comfort or dimpled-for-her-pleasure. All you need is...
If I was walking in a wilderness - perhaps in a glade of silver birch or through some highland pines - and I needed, and then took, a dump, it is totally inconceivable that I would chop down a tree in order to wipe my ass on it.
I might consider using a leaf, but even then, I would feel slightly guilty, as if I was disrespecting nature’s majesty in some profoundly tawdry way.
I imagine you might feel the same? Especially considering the fact that forests all over our planet are being beaten back, broken, burnt and bastardised.
To the economic machine, trees are fodder, but think for a few seconds and it is very obvious they are far more than this.
Trees are totally brilliant. They have existed on the Earth for 370 million years taking over most of our planet’s land area, making it habitable for the animal species that would follow millennia later, crawling out of the oceans, blinking into the shade of our pioneering cousins.
Trees continue to provide rich, diverse habitats for myriad species. More than half of Earth’s terrestrial plants and animals live in tropical rainforests, even though these occupy just five percent of the land area.
Trees also contribute significantly to making the biosphere stable in conditions which suit human civilization. All this is before we get into the less interesting discussion of the resources they can sustainably provide us.
In every culture, prior to the Great Abrahamic Delusion of human superiority, trees have been revered. In some cases for their longevity and usefulness, but surely also simply as a result of their intrinsic awesomeness. Their roots push down into the soil they help create, anchoring it to the feminine earth. Their woody trunks, totemic of the strength and stability we often draw on, reach up to the source of energy that drives all life on Earth. Their leaves spread out in a sacred mosaic of sun worship to channel cosmic energy into our planet’s living system.
More than ever, trees need us to recognise and appreciate, not just their value, but their sacredness. 90% of the way we use trees is gratuitous. I am also thinking of garbage newspapers, weaving this perverse and pathological consensus reality out of their words of witchcraft.
Using trees as kitchen towel and toilet paper is especially problematic, in part because of its ubiquity, and partly for its symbolism. Trees shouldn’t be transformed into something disposable we flush out of our lives.
There are alternatives.
Billions of humans around the world do it differently. If you have been lucky enough to travel and visit a muslim country, Japan or most developing countries, you will know that our posteriors can be cleaned more effectively using a flow of water. This isn’t just way more sustainable: it feels better, it gets you cleaner, it prevents uncomfortable chafing from determined cling-ons and it builds character.
You may not have a bidet but if you have a shower with a detachable head you can get jiggy. All you do is stick your ass over the edge of the bath. Fire the water down from behind and use your spare hand to do the sloshing. Note well that no actual physical contact needs to happen between your hand and the turd. Then dry yourself on your flatmates face-towel and you are good to go! Fresh, clean and a patch of woodland lighter.
Business-types have been discussing the “Paperless Office” for a decade. They failed because they need bits of paper to carry around to reassure them they have some physical purpose in the world beyond tapping on a keyboard like a rat in a wheel, the lure for forward momentum provided by a floored economic rationale that evaporates once there are no more trees.
In the bathroom we can do better. Ignore the adverts, ignore the puppies. You do not need: 3-ply, extra-comfort or dimpled-for-her-pleasure. Resist the mindless economic machine. You need a tap and your hand and a healthy relationship with the trees that all around quietly love you in their nourishing embrace.
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