Prior to the invention of such paper, people wiped with things that were commonly available and primarily biodegradable. That would have included things like grass, leaves, corncobs, water, straw, pebbles, coconut fibers, and even snow.
In most Western countries, where the infrastructure was specifically designed to cope with the demands of indoor toilets, you can flush toilet paper. However, it might surprise you to learn that not all countries allow you to flush it.
The sewage systems required to flush toilet paper are not as readily available as you might think. If you are somebody considering extensive travel around the world, it might be prudent to find out which countries will and will not allow you to flush the toilet.
Why Do Some Countries Not Flush Toilet Paper?
Most countries that do not flush toilet paper don’t have the infrastructure required to cope with its demands, however minimal they might seem. There are several reasons why these countries might not have the infrastructure needed to flush it.
- Some cultures do not use toilet paper at all and prefer a water supply
- Some countries cannot afford to build the required infrastructure
- Some countries throw it away instead of flushing
- Some regions are rural, remote, and don’t see any reason to fix a system that ain’t broke
- Some countries are motivated by environmental factors
Can You Flush Toilet Paper In Greece?
Greece is a favorite destination for many Americans, but what if you need to head to the restroom?
While you could flush toilet paper in Greece if you really wanted to, you would probably clog the system and create sewer backups of hazardous waste for everybody living in your area. Greece has not designed its plumbing infrastructure to cope with the demands of wet sanitary paper.
The diameter of the pipes used for toilet systems is too small—at least half the size of lines in functional sewage systems like the ones in the United States.
The jury is out on why more concerted efforts are not being made to upgrade Greek sewage pipes. The cost of a potential upgrade is undoubtedly a factor, but it could quite easily overcome that.
Some Greek comment threads online have suggested that the situation in Greece has more to do with cultural norms than infrastructure and that the size of the pipes contributing to clogged sewers does not have a considerable amount to do with why you cannot flush sanitary paper in that country.
What we do know for sure is that instead of flushing the paper, you are expected to throw it away in a trash can when you are in Greece.
Can I Flush Toilet Paper In Mexico?
There is some consensus from tourists who have visited Mexico that the plumbing systems across the breadth of that country do get stressed when you flush it.
While you can sometimes get away with flushing toilet paper, you are more likely to encounter blockages, causing human waste backups and bathroom flooding if you do it consistently.
If you are in a hotel or any dwelling where issues do tend to arise, you will probably encounter signs which ask you not to flush it, so you will not be caught off guard.
As is the case in countries like Greece and Spain, where you also get signs requesting you not flush it, the trash cans used instead are cleaned out regularly.
So, not being able to flush it does not become a life-or-death scenario for tourists. In most cases, you probably won’t even notice it.
Can You Flush Toilet Paper In Spain?
Spain is listed as a European country where you should not flush toilet paper. The evidence suggests that this is a primarily regional issue in the more remote parts of Spain, where buildings and infrastructure are a lot older.
These largely rural areas are also where septic tanks are more prevalent, not just in Spain but also in Europe.
It is also sometimes suggested that some of this is born out of old habits that might have been more practical. Historically, this paper would have been a lot harder to dissolve because of the materials used.
So, while toilet paper production has undoubtedly evolved since then, the habits for its disposal have not necessarily changed in some countries. Spain might fall into that bracket.
Can Toilet Paper Be Flushed In India?
You can flush toilet paper in select areas of India. However, most Indians choose not to use it, primarily because water has always been bathroom etiquette when wiping and because it’s more expensive.
As it stands, much of India’s infrastructure will struggle to cope with flushed toilet paper, but there will also need to be a massive paradigm shift from Indians themselves when it comes to matters of toilet hygiene.
Culture (medical professionals are still debating this issue) currently dictates that cleaning yourself with water is much more efficient and hygienic. However, India does make some accommodations for international tourists, and you will most likely know if those accommodations exist or not through things like signage.
Can You Flush Toilet Paper In A Bidet?
Bidets have been presented as a popular alternative to sanitary paper because there is a genuine conviction that they help you do a more thorough job cleaning while also having a less negative impact on the environment.
The reality is that you will still need to use some mechanism to dry yourself after using a bidet. In many instances, this means you will need to use toilet paper after cleaning yourself with a bidet anyway. You will also need to clean yourself off with sanitary paper first before using the bidet spray.
However, once you have used that toilet paper, you cannot flush it down the bidet! This applies specifically if you use a freestanding bidet, which will clog up and create somewhat of a mess if you use such paper.
No matter your preference, toilet paper will still very much remain a feature of your visit to the bathroom.
Conclusion: Should Toilet Paper Be Flushed At All?
There are multiple facets to this debate, which center primarily on whether using toilet paper is actually an efficient way to clean yourself.
However, people are also concerned about what happens to it once you have flushed it and its impact on the environment before you use it. There is even an argument that its production is a major contributing factor to the world’s climate crisis.
If toilet paper still gives you the most peace of mind, there isn’t really enough evidence to force a paradigm shift. However, if you think abandoning toilet paper might be more prudent, scant evidence suggests that you would be erring if you do.