Sustainable Toilet Paper?


Guest Post: by Tammy

“Lamb’s Ear” So, what does this plant have to do with prepping?

Most important seems to be as wound dressing, but, most convenient is Toilet Paper!

Yes, toilet paper. The leaves of this plant are about 4 inches by 2 inches, and very soft and fuzzy, making for a very good tissue with excellent cleaning properties.

I mean, really, just how much room do you have to store hundreds of rolls of toilet paper? If the SHTF, I doubt if a lot of toilet paper will still be manufactured, and storing enough to last you for the rest of your life is impractical at best.

But if you start growing this plant now, it will be naturalized and spreading by the time you may need it. Or add some seeds for this plant to your preps, and start them when you need to, they are very easy to grow, and come back year after year.

Mullein and Borage both have similar leaf types and can also be used as toilet paper. I chose the Lamb’s Ear because it has other uses also.

Woolly Lamb’s Ear-Stachys Byzantina (woolly hedgenettle)

Zones 4-9, 6-12 inch tall Perennial. (Flower spikes up to 18 inches)

They’re drought tolerant, deer resistant, and easy to grow.

Herbalists sometimes refer to it as ‘wooly woundwort’.

Lamb’s ear is related to Betony (both are Stachys), and is sometimes called woolly betony.

It is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.

Besides the sopping up of blood and use as a dressing, lamb’s ear has also been used as a poultice and has analgesic properties.

It was used either alone, or to help hold in other herbs like comfrey. It is used for bee or wasp stings, and reduces the swelling from both.

It was used for centuries as a “women’s comfort” for hemorrhoids, menstrual flow, birthing, for nervous tension, and as a skin aid..

Not only is it useful medicinally, but it’s also edible! Some people enjoy Lamb’s Ear fresh in salads or gently steamed as greens. You can also make a pleasant tea by steeping dried leaves in boiling water. Pick fresh, young leaves for best flavor when consuming

Lamb’s ear has been used as a natural dye for wool.

Does anyone know of other plants that can be used this way (TP)?


  1. This is perfect timing. I noticed a bunch of these fuzzy little plants growing in the yard over the last few days and was wondering about them!! Thank you very much. Wait….How did you knw I was wondering about these? DO you work for the NSA?? LOL. Thanks for the great article and info

    1. It will still grow in zone 10. You just need to provide some protection for it, like a bit of shade in the hot afternoon. I have to do this also, even though I’m in zone 8. Make sure it doesn’t get too much water, it needs well drained soil, and don’t plant it in a low spot.

      Before anybody asks, yes, I have tried it, and, yes, it does work great!

    2. If your thinking about planting them, you might want to keep them away from any other plants you have in pots.

  2. It is also called Mullein, nicknamed cowboy toilet paper (how appropriate). And it is edible. The leaves are edible (before you use it as TP. Grin), and so are the flowers of the older taller plants. A tea made out of the leaves can help with urinary problems. Check it out. I recommend all preppers learn to identify weeds and mushrooms that are edible and a lot of the weeds have medicinal purposes. That has been my prepper skill to learn this summer, and there is a ton of info out there

    1. Mullein is a different plant. One that gets a bit larger and has bigger leaves.

      1. OOps sorry, it looks just like mullein. Well, Mullein is another TP alternative. grin

        1. Yes, Mullein is another good plant to use for TP, if you use the leaves fresh and not dried. It doesn’t seem to have the wound dressing and analgesic properties of the Lamb’s Ear, and it won’t stay as soft after drying. The Lamb’s Ear can be cured (think tobacco leaves), and will stay pliable and not crumble during use.

        1. Yes. You can plant seeds or seedlings, and it does have a lovely flower stalk.

      2. Another alternative is baby wipes. More expensive than TP, but a lot less room recquired

  3. Excellent info, I had never heard of this plant before this article. Knowing that it would be impossible to stock enough toilet paper to last indefinately I instead have reusuable wipes that can be washed and reused. I know there are people out there right now going “ewwwww”, I don’t understand their thinking. Let’s face it, you wear underwear all day long and I am sure that more than once when you go to take them off at the end of the day at times, there was bound to be a skid mark or two, but people don’t have a problem with washing and re-wearing their underwear.
    The family wipes as they are called came in a stack of about 50 with different sets of colors so each family member can have their own set of about 6 wipes. They are smaller than a wash cloth and a softer material. I used them for a while just to see how they worked. I actually prefer them as they don’t fall apart or get stuck to certain areas and rip off leaving traces behind. So now they are packed away with our other preps.

    1. I’ve made a couple dozen cloth wipes, but my only concern is that they DO need washed, using water stores. I have a well with a solar panel, but I don’t know for sure how much water I’ll have available.

  4. I’m so excited. Now where do I get the seeds to grow these babies? I have been raising little wabbits, with the soft, fuzzy coats to use as TP. This is what the ‘bears in the woods’ use.

    1. Seeds are pretty common, I’ve seen them on the rack at Kmart and Home Depot, but you can find them on ebay too, and other seed sellers online.

    2. Oh, I had not thought of that aspect of rabbit raising. Grin. Good idea

  5. Growing and killing a plant to wipe my butt just seems wrong.
    It’s one thing to grow things and kill animals to sustain life but
    as butt wipe naaaaa.

    1. ummm, you DO know that toilet paper is plant material, right? Someone else grew it for you with who knows what added to make paper.

      1. And, besides, you don’t kill this plant to use it. You just harvest the larger leaves and it continues to grow for years…

  6. Another concern I have, can one grow enough to carry them through the winter season. Also, how well do they store? Do they dry out and become brittle?

    1. If you cure the leaves in a cool dark area, they stay pliable when dry. Don’t put them in a dehydrator, the sun, or a hot area to dry or they will become brittle. Store in plastic with as little air as possible. They should store well over winter.

  7. Thanks, I will be getting some of this. I do suggest that you do the TP test. I gave a roll to my wife and one for me to see how long a roll lasts. She was a week and I just over two. Whenever we buy, we buy extra to store. Keep it dry and will last forever. She doesn’t like to drink water, so we have a joke. She gets my toilet paper and I get her water.

  8. I don’t know about Florida – I do know a friend grows it in AZ in large containers. Hope that helps.

  9. Lambs ear is a super easy perennial to grow. Give it some room and it will multiply like crazy. I am living near Chicago and bought small plants at a greenhouse. Transplants easily. It likes full sun and easily over winters

  10. I just ordered several Lambs Ear and Mullein plants from the Growers Exchange, a herb/plant nursery in Virginia that has an extensive on-line catalogue. The buyer reviews on the site are excellent and the plants are beautiful.

  11. As a young lad, i had to go in the woods during some type of boy scout meeting. Well the toilet i was in had no tp, so i found some plant leaves outside the toilet. Later that day my butt started itching oh my god, what a hell after that. Turned out to be poison ivy.

    Well anyways, Good Butt Hygiene is very important, so no matter what you wipe with or if you don’t, a nice shower afterwards is the best thing your butt can ask for. It helps take out the streaks in the underwear.

  12. Ok, why have I not read this article before storing 600 rolls of TP?

  13. There is sewing material that is soft for bath room tp replacement.

    When the ‘600’rolls of tp runs out and the plant does not produce, you will be thankful for the material squares for the outhouse with a bucket for placing them in to be cleaned with bleach & available for the outhouse once again. No different than cloth baby diapers, before everyone became spoiled, think outside the box. Don’t forget the ‘used’ chicken thongs for swishing in the buckets before washing.

    1. “Antique Collector”…”think outside the box….—surething….old catalogues/newspaper/leaves/….as long as one is using an outhouse situation…

      1. Anon
        The “out house” was a metaphor in a joking way. As for the leaves….ah try to find the old catalogues. Leaves tend to be the ones that leave unwanted blisters on the behind…rowl.

    2. AC, agreed! I have been fortunate to have been given an extra King-size flannel sheet, plus I already had a few. Cut into 8-inch squares, they do-the-trick.
      I also have a half dozen plastic perineal squeeze bottles (from Amazon) that will help to water-wash the private zones prior to wiping. I even began using one to ‘learn’ how to pre-clean from urination. (Those on a budget could easily use washed out mustard or ketchup squeeze bottles, or baby bottles)
      Not a fun topic, but very important for sanitation and hygiene.

      1. MT
        On another blog a few years back they discussed having either a 1 or 2 spray tanker filled with water for cleaning. Then two different buckets for the specific placement of used cleansing cloths.

        The sprayer tankers also could be used for having a way to shower with little water yet still removing body sweat, when nothing else would be available.

        1. MT
          spray tankers were 1 or 2 “gallon”, missed putting that in the sentence. It is another morning of being maid/butler to the cats.

        2. AC, maybe that’s where I got the idea to do that! Hanging it from the inside of our GH will give us solar-powered warm water most every day of the year that way.

          Yes, cleaning bathroom cloths needs to be done separately and with bleach & water to sanitize. We even have a separate washer-plunger for doing that….and of course, a separate bucket. We have one of those big galvanized washtubs for regular clothing. Cast-off livestock feeders and water troughs would work, too.

  14. A few years ago I bought a subscription to “The Summer of Survival” It was a weekly podcast thing. One of the podcast was by a woman calling herself “Survivor Jane” and her podcast covered toilet paper post-SHTF or rather the lack of it post-SHTF.

    What she used was a pump-up garden sprayer with the spray rod bent up so you could wash your backside. She said she liked using it more then toilet paper and being you clean yourself with water it was very sustainable when toilet paper is not. A one-gallon pump-up sprayer is $12.00 so it’s not too hard to put a few up. I would say to heat the water to warm before using it as cold water is well kinda cold…

    Look up “Summer of Survival” at LifeChangesBeReady dot com for her podcast and others.

    It’s not free, but worth buying the whole Summer of Survival series. I think there was around 20 in the series. It was free if you listened to it live each Saturday and thereafter they sold them as a package after the series was complete. I made the time to listen to them live and saved them as an MP3.

    But like I said, it’s good stuff by many industry experts in a lot of prepper fields from herbs, gardening, water harvesting and many others. So you get a lot of good info to act on and it’s worth buying it.

    1. Forgot to mention I missed a few of them and that’s why I bought the whole series. That and they sell them as MP4 videos and my computer saved them as MP3’s.

  15. To extend the maintenance-free period on the outhouse at the cabin, one DFM insists that all wiping material be deposited in a sack after use. Tossed in the fire nightly or every other. Think this is such a good idea that my preps at the farm include the little paper lunch sacks. And all catalogs received in the mail.

    Outhouse has one tall Christmas tin with TP and another with wood ashes. When bag is removed for burning, a scoop of ashes goes down the hole. Tins keep out the damp and creepy crawlies. In many years of use never has had an odor or need for digging out.

    All shirts and pants that get too raggedy to wear are folded clean into tubs. What doesn’t become quilt squares can be cut up for the reusable wipes.

  16. My question is can I flush it down the toilet without a problem. I’m aware that it can be used as toilet paper in the woods but I’m looking for a more sustainable/cost-effective alternative to toilet paper in my home.

    1. Shayne
      If you are referring to the Lamb’s ear. My suggestion is NO, it would slim up your septic system over time. Although it will break down it is from a plant base so that makes the difference when it goes into the tank.
      Should you use it, have a bucket with a lid in the bathroom. FYI

  17. Stand, read your comment about the strangers ignoring your no trespassing signs. Wonder if you saw the movie “Second Hand Lions”. If not, watch it. I guarantee you will enjoy it.

    1. me

      OH YEA, one of my favorite movies. But, shooting at them, no no, will get a visit from the jack booted thugs.

      I don’t think they will be back.

      Ever seen “UP”, good movie

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