Toilet Paper

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Toilet paper is a soft, rolled and perforated tissue paper used for maintaining personal hygiene. With millions of trees being cut to meet the demand for soft fluffy toilet paper, when a not so soft version of the product made from recycled paper can meet the same need, the humble toilet paper has been the centre of frequent debates in the recent times.

Prior to the arrival of the toilet paper, there were eco friendly ways of maintaining personal hygiene. While water was used in some parts of the world, pages torn from newspapers and magazines were commonly used in other parts of the world. The origin of the first toilet paper is traced to China when in the 14th century, the Chinese emperor ordered two feet by three feet sheets to be manufactured to specially address toilet needs. Rolled toilet paper was invented around 1880.

Contents

Why should I be aware of this?

  • Millions of trees harvested in North America and in Latin American countries, including some percentage of trees from rare old-growth forests in Canada.
  • Although toilet tissue can be made at similar cost from recycled material, it is the fiber taken from standing trees that help give it that plush feel
  • Toilet paper are that it is easy and intuitive to use, fairly absorbent, and it can be flushed in most countries where toilet paper is common.
  • Toilet paper made from recycled paper costs the same in terms of money but the environmental cost is lesser.
  • Toilet paper made from second growth forest is also not environment friendly though it is a slightly better than using pulp got by cutting endangered species of trees which cannot be replaced.
  • The pulp from one eucalyptus tree, a commonly used tree, produces as many as 1,000 rolls of toilet tissue. Americans use an average of 23.6 rolls per capita a year.
  • Toilet paper made from recycled paper might pose health risk depending on the chemicals used.

All about toilet paper

Apart from difference in terms of quality of paper used for the manufacturing process, colour, decoration and texture, toilet paper and texture, toilet paper also different in size, weight, softness, chemical residue, resistance to tear during use and water-absorption capacity.

The quality of the toilet paper is usually determined by the number of plies (stacked sheets), coarseness, and durability.

  • Low grade institutional toilet paper is usually the lowest grade of toilet paper. It has only one or two plies, is very coarse and sometimes has small amounts of unbleached/unpulped paper embedded in it.
  • Mid-grade two ply is somewhat textured to provide some softness, and is somewhat durable.
  • Premium toilet paper may have lotion and wax, and has two to four plies made of very finely pulped paper.

Two-ply toilet paper is the standard in many countries, although one-ply is often available and marketed as a budget option

Traditionally, one ply toilet paper means it is one layer of paper, and two ply means it is 2 layers of paper. In the past, two ply toilet paper was always thicker and usually assumed to be better. However, now many toilet papers are made of only one layer of paper, yet may be thicker and stronger than 2 layers.

Toilet paper and environment

Soft plush toilet paper is best made from virgin standing trees. It is much in demand in the US market where millions of trees are in North America and in Latin American countries are cut. These including trees from rare old-growth forests in Canada.[1]

The pulp from one eucalyptus tree which is commonly used for manufacturing toilet paper produces as many as 1,000 rolls of toilet tissue. US customers consume around 23.6 rolls per capita a year.[1]

Toilet paper and health

  • Sometimes modern toilet paper companies put a light coating of aloe vera. This has a healing quality. Aloe along with lotion or wax also reduces roughness.
  • Recycled paper needs to be deinked before it is pulped and processed. This deinking process may involve chlorine to bleach the paper. Chlorine based chemicals can react with paper fibers to create toxic compounds such as dioxin and organochlorines. Dioxins is known to cause cancer, learning disorders, decreased immune response and diabetes.

What can I do?

  • When shopping for earth friendly toilet paper look for statements such as "unbleached", "processed chlorine-free" or "totally chlorine free to address health concerns.
  • You can also save on paper by opting for 1 ply paper. While a roll of 1 ply can be more expensive, there is more usable paper. Studies show that people do not consume more 1 ply as compared to 2 ply.
  • 1 ply also breaks down faster, which is particularly a good thing in septic systems. Less paper translates into less pumping out and less cost.

CopperBytes

  • One million trees would be saved if every U.S. household replaced just one 250-count package of virgin fiber napkins with 100 percent recycled ones.
  • The military used toilet paper to camouflage their tanks in Saudi Arabia, during the Desert Storm War.
  • In 1996, President Clinton passed a law on toilet paper, taxing each roll 6 cents and increasing the price of the product to 30 cents per roll. The price of toilet paper has not been this costly since the Desert Storm War in 1990.
  • "The pentagon uses, on average, about 666 rolls of toilet paper every day." [1]
  • 25 percent to 50 percent of the pulp used to make toilet paper in this country comes from tree farms in South America and the United States.[1]

References

  • Mr. Whipple Left It Out: Soft Is Rough on Forests The New York Times
  • Toilet paper and the environment
  • http://www.toiletpaperworld.com/tpw/encyclopedia/navigation/funfacts.htm
  • http://www.enviro-roll.com/factsabouttoiletpaper.html
  • History of toilet paper
  • Toilet paper and the environment
  • Ready to rethink toilet paper for Earth Day?

Source

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mr. Whipple Left It Out: Soft Is Rough on Forests:The New York Times