Nonsense and Toilet Paper (and saving the planet)

Did you know that the average person uses up over 384 full-grown trees in his lifetime just by employing the soft fluffy toilet tissue we have all come to love and at times, desperately need? Put another way, did you know that 17,000 of these huggable trees disappear each hour so that we can have unchafed derrieres?

This article has as it's mission not only to inform you, but to get you to join with me in my goal to save the almost 400 trees we would have killed by being insensitive--scratch that, by being too sensitive. Here are some ways it can be done.

1. We could switch to bidets.

Or "biffy's" as some call them. Wiki says bidet is French for pony because one rides this "under-fountain" like you would a pony. I don't know about you, but unless you are Lady Godiva, you don't ride your pony the same way you ride a bidet.

A bidet looks like a toilet except that it squirts a jet of water to do what paper usually does. I thought this excerpt from their description to be a little scary: "They may also be used to clean any other part of the body; they are very convenient for cleaning shaven heads, for example." ~ Wikipedia

I can just imagine it: "Gladys, would you hurry up cleaning your bottom, I need to dip my head in that thing."

I wouldn't be surprised to walk into a public bathroom someday and see a sign over a coin-operated bidet: Basic Wash - $1, Wash & Rinse with choice of scents $2, Wash, Rinse, Spray Wax & Blow Dry $15.

This wouldn't save water and only a few of the trees because they say that wiping is still necessary.

2. Use recycled toilet paper.

According to a study I did not check for accuracy, if every household replaced just one roll of virgin toilet paper with 100 percent recycled toilet paper, we will save almost half a million trees. I love those great, unsubstantiated statistics.

We all could use recycled toilet paper if we could find some that didn't feel like a mixture of tinfoil and oat bran. The problem is that manufacturers say they cannot make the fluffy, squeezable kind without sacrificing a virgin--virgin tree that is. It appears that only fresh bark can achieve that downy softness one's bottom has come to expect.

We shouldn't however, be too picky about the softness because rolled and perforated toilet paper didn't appear until 1877 and it wasn't until 1935 that Northern Tissue announced they had perfected a "splinter-free" tissue.

Conserve, Help us keep Mother Earth beautiful. Please use both sides of this toilet paper."
Conserve, Help us keep Mother Earth beautiful. Please use both sides of this toilet paper."

3. We can improve our methods of using the paper

There are a few youtube demonstrations of how you can use one sheet of toilet paper, but trust me, we don't want to go there. Studies have shown that most people fold or crunch up enough paper to satisfy the "buffer zone" impulse. Just decreasing the "buffer zone" thickness by half would save 200 trees over a person's lifetime.

Some of you, however, may not have enough lifetime left to save many trees and since your aim is probably not the best either, perhaps you should opt for one of the other methods.

4. Revert to time-tested primitive methods

The early days of doing your business in America either involved a huge Sears catalog or the Farmer's Almanac--which had a hole conveniently drilled in a corner for hanging up on a nail or tying a string to it in the outhouse. Tradition has kept it in there ever since. You probably don't have a Farmer's Almanac or a Sears catalog lying around and goodness knows the newspaper isn't good for much else, but it would probably clog up your plumbing, so let's keep digging. (Now get your head out of the gutter, I didn't mean what you're thinking.)

In India and Middle Eastern societies, it was customary to use the left hand and then wash it thoroughly afterwards--which made it necessary to use your right hand at all times for greeting and meatball preparation..If you have trouble telling your right hand from your left, remind me not to shake hands with you. This is not just a primitive practice. According to some studies, more than 70% of people in the world, don't use toilet paper! In many countries toilet paper is uncommon even for rich people. Some people don't use toilet paper because of tradition, some because of religion and for some it's too expensive.

Farmers used corn cobs and sailors used frayed anchor rope (ouch) but again the scarcity and plumbing problems, not to mention the pain, eliminate these methods.

My personal favorite is the one used by Eskimos and other cold climate peoples. They use clumps of snow. The phrase "freeze your butt off" came from Eskimo moms reminding their kids to not forget to "freeze your butts off" before coming back to the igloo. You've got to hand it to the Intuits, they save more trees than anyone--course they have very few trees, but they get a giant nose rub anyway.

I don't even have to consult a history to know that the first toilet paper started with the Chinese. Didn't everything? Turns out it dates back to the 6th century AD in the Chinese Imperial courts and amongst the other wealthy citizens of China. Of course the jealous non-wealthy had nothing good to say about them not to mention other countries.

OK, OK I'll mention it. In the 8th century, Muslims complained: “They (the Chinese) are not careful about cleanliness, and they do not wash themselves with water when they have done their necessities; but they only wipe themselves with paper.”

With a little Yankee ingenuity, the Scott brothers turned Joseph Gayetty's 1857 invention into a marketable success. Theirs was a handy roll and unlike Gayetty whose papers were medicated sheets for hemorrhoid sufferers, they were able to stay afloat, metaphorically speaking, and made a profit--hence the recognizable "Scott" brand.

It wasn't until 1921 that the real use for toilet paper was invented when four frat brothers got tired of picking splinters and decided to find another use for the irksome rolls. As they tossed the rolls back and forth to each other in the back yard, football style, higher and higher, one of the rolls unraveled and landed in the neighboring sorority's tree. The tree was so grateful to get its offspring back that it blessed the activity and pubescent teens have been TP'ing friends houses ever since.

Or maybe it was the high-pitched squeals coming from the sorority the next morning. Anyway, today, in the need to save yet more trees from being sacrificed for use by tender bottoms and teenage pranksters, laws have been passed to discourage the prank portion of usage unless the rolls are the recycled variety with high enough splinter and oat bran content.

I'm sure if I could read Chinese the package would read "Use this and you'll be hugging bamboo from now on"
I'm sure if I could read Chinese the package would read "Use this and you'll be hugging bamboo from now on"
Bamboo Processor--Output 5-6 tons per day
Bamboo Processor--Output 5-6 tons per day

Kids who barely are old enough to wipe their own bottoms find a way around the new laws

Don't ask me why, but I bought an oven mitt the other day and it was really soft so I looked at the header and the thing was made out of bamboo! That got me thinking--bamboo grows so fast they use it to time Go matches in Japan. If they used bamboo instead of corn cobs, almanacs and the virgin trees, that would save all the trees, not just my 400. Using my highly honed skills of scholarly research, I Googled bamboo toilet paper and found that bumboosa.com has established a budding bamboo bum burnisher business.

Checking our friendly Alibaba world market for people buying from China by the boat load, I found that more and more enterprising manufacturers, who have been looking for a way to get rid of that pesky bamboo forest growing in their backyard, have come up with their own downy soft TP products. There is even one manufacturer who is selling your own do-it-yourself monster bamboo-into-toilet paper processor. He is including one potted bamboo plant because, as everyone knows who ever was foolish enough to plant some in their yard, will be more than enough to feed the machine for decades.

So there, I have almost met my goal and all you fellow old-growth virgin huggers--now you know which virgins I was referring to--can meet your goals too. Until some "Save the Bamboo" group arises, I think we are all safe buying bamboo-based tissue. I know all your markets won't be stocking it right away so stick a few sample bamboo splinters under their manager's nails and they'll get it right away. They may even install one of these spiffy bamboo processors next to the coffee grinder and you can make your own while you shop.

If you still are not able to procure any locally, I'm sure the folks at bumboosa will ship you enough to fill your garage. It might even make a cool side business since once the neighbors and friends who use your bathroom feel the superior softness of the bamboo booty wipes, they will want it in their loos too and will pay a pretty penny. Well that's all the nonsense I can wrap around one "save the rainforest" hub even with a hefty buffer zone thrown in. Speaking of which, if your shipment doesn't come in right away, they are selling these really really soft, washable bamboo oven mitts at department stores near you.

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Comments 31 comments

i scribble profile image

i scribble 5 years ago

Funny and educational (I think). Is it really against the law to roll people's yards in some places? Seriously, I think we could do more to conserve on paper towels. Dish towels still do the same work, just less convenient. On the toilet paper (t)issue, seems no viable alternatives is the bottom line. Voting up.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

This hub makes me even more glad to be living in the 21st century, although it does give me a great new idea for how to dispose of the ubiquitous, unrequested, 5-lb multi-county phone books that seem to appear on my doorstep with increasing regularity. But I promise not to flush 'em. ;D


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Great piloting control in the video and I love the hat! As always, winsome, your writing is exemplary. Thanks for the interesting trip to the loo.

I especially enjoyed your "buffer zone" and sorting out the humorous "no TP" philosophy. I find it so amusing that these ideas are not usually discussed, yet the comedic value validates the fact that its funny because its relatable, meaning we all think about it! Brilliant!


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Ah another TP tale! Love the humor and the history. I may just sacrifice one roll a week in the name of green living. If only they made greener Wet Ones :(


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Ha ha I Scribble, "no viable alternatives is the bottom line"...I get it..heh heh.

As to your question, "Burt" gave this answer on yahoo.answers: "Yes, it is Vandalism in 39 States and Property damages in the rest of them, 30 days in jail and up to 5,000.00 dollars in fines, plus community service." but what does he know he is always trying to get Ernie in trouble on Sesame Street. I put a little more credence to "DaCop88" who said:

You'll receive a summons for trespassing in the 3rd degree and criminal mischief (in my jurisdiction). Juveniles would be taken into custody and then released to their parents.

I think it is a little like the littering laws--the laws are broken often, but rarely enforced--especially if you pick a house of someone you know. The possibility of arrest has caught somebody's attention it seems because "arrested for tping" has 13,300,000 results on Google.

Thank you IS, for your comment. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey JG, I laughed at that one. I think that is probably the best use for them since everybody uses the computer or phone to look up numbers these days. Still, ouch. As you may know, one of my 'Murder by Chatroulette' hubs was about the rainforest and in my study it turns out the reasons are more complicated than just rogue lumber thieves. One of the reasons is locals just need more room to farm and subsist like our early frontiersmen in America....but, and that is a big but with another 't,' virgin timber is needed for our tender bottoms. I don't think cutting down on TP or switching to recycled will stop the deterioration of the rainforest, but it would save trees in the Boreal forests of Canada and other countries in the Boreal zone that circles the world.

As to your phone catalog, each year U.S. companies send Americans over 17 billion catalogs containing over eight million tons of wood fiber It is estimated that 97 per cent of all merchantable timberlands in the Canadian boreal forest have been licensed for timber harvesting.

ForestEthics released a study entitled, interestingly enough, "The Boreal, Going Down the Toilet?"

Thank you for you very humorous contribution. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Amy, thank you for your kind words. You are right that we don't talk about it, but we sure do joke about it. Not talking probably explains the enormously popular children's book "Everyone Poops."

My aim in this article was to poke fun and maybe get in a few educational gems in the process. Who knows, maybe all this education will motivate me to cut down my own "buffer zone" unless someone decides to buy me a "pony." =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Hillary, thanks for the nice comment. I applaud your resolve to cut down a roll a week. Wow, it's working already--you're cutting down a roll, Jama's going to use her gynormous phone book and to support you, I will endeavor to only buy used books to read. (This is going to be easy for me because that's what I do anyway)

As to the paper towel wastage, I noticed that a lot of public restrooms are using "motion activated" towel dispensers. When I wave my wet hands in front of the sensor, it never works and my frantic "motions" eventually dry my hands--do you think that's what "motion activated" means? =:)


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

A bit of a ---- hub Winsome, but your message is clear. We do need to get our heads around the problem and wipe this practice out. I enjoyed your puns mate. Cheers from Oz.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Ha ha Keith, I'm glad you checked in, I wasn't sure they were being caught and I knew they wouldn't slip by you.

I was hoping the Feline Prophet would stop by and I could kid her about Indian sanitary practices but she would just point out that no self respecting feline would use her paw. =:)


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

What an idea to picka topic like that and yet it was full with great information about something we never think about. Great hub.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hello my friend, Hello--so nice of you to say so. It's great when we can have fun and learn at the same time. It's like comedy environmental traffic court.

Thank you for the kind visit, now go out there and save a tree. =:)


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 5 years ago from North Carolina

"I Googled bamboo toilet paper and found that bumboosa.com has established a budding bamboo bum burnisher business."

I'll bet you had as much fun writing that sentence as I had reading it. Virtuoso writing there. A truly excellent hub.

Since I'm also very interested in going green, I'll have to check out that site. My own research into bamboo leaves me in awe of all the things that can be made from it. Let's see: construction scaffolding, stir fry ingredient, towels, and now toilet paper. Amazing.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey APG, nice to see you. Thank you for your kindness. I am impressed with bamboo too. I think only a fast growing and easily processed plant like that can keep up with our voracious appetite for soft papers and even hardwood floors.

I did have fun writing this article. I got to engage in a little juvenile potty humor and still learn/convey some interesting facts and history. We cannot sit idly by and simply wipe ourselves free from the dirty little processes of our consumption--unless we wipe with bumboosa, that is. heh heh =:)


nikashi_designs 5 years ago

Hi Winsome,

Perfect morning read and very entertaining. Our family went green, using single ply. We were blasting one roll per day with the soft stuff. We even tried the roll without the center tube, butt that wasn't any fun, like to leave the empty roll for my wife. Just a note, will never eat corn-on-cob or enjoy Eskimo Pie's again...


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Ha ha--Hey ND, good to see you. Thanks for the visit and the fun comment. Eskimo Pies--heh heh heh. =:)


Ana Louis profile image

Ana Louis 5 years ago from Louisiana

What a hoot. What muse whispered this one in your ear? I loved it, learned a few things about toilet paper I did not know, and gained a new appreciation for our 1/2 acre of bamboo. Bamboo is woooonderful. Have used it for all kinds of things, but haven't wiped my bottom with it...yet. I might be interested in that bamboo-into-toilet paper processor.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey Ana, good to see you. I'm with you on the processor, one day it will have multi-functions so you add the bamboo, push a button and out will come a missing sock or a bamburger or bam and eggs. Now if they would just make a processor for kudzu... =:)


RunAbstract profile image

RunAbstract 5 years ago from USA

This is great! But...! My favorite paragraph is: "My personal favorite is the one used by Eskimos and other cold climate peoples. They use clumps of snow. The phrase "freeze your butt off" came from Eskimo moms reminding their kids to not forget to "freeze your butts off" before coming back to the igloo. You've got to hand it to the Intuits, they save more trees than anyone--course they have very few trees, but they get a giant nose rub anyway." It's priceless!

And now I want bamboo paper for my potty! I mean, why not? Because like you said about putting the one plant of it in the yard...

I have heard that some folks south of the border use smooth rocks. They will have a couple of buckets in the bathroom, or outhouse. One filled with clean rocks, and the other for the "used" rocks. When the one gets full and the other empty, they go to the river and dump the used ones back in and gather "fresh" rocks. The river gets rid of all unsightly residue. So never swim downstream from small piles of smooth rocks!

I love your style!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi RA, so that's where the phrase "rock on dude" came from. Who knew.

I actually bought some recycled at the market and I have encountered no splinters so far but I'm with you, the bamboo bum burnisher booty busters sound like the way to go. They are installing my do-it-yourself processor machine in a special out-house hanger along with my one bamboo plant. =:)


Phoebe Pike 5 years ago

Funny and very informative. The picture of the toothbrush and toiletpaper roll is hilarious. A good read as always. :)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

You're so sweet. Why inform if you can't be informal now and then. Thank you for the visit. =:)


nicomp profile image

nicomp 4 years ago from Ohio, USA

Now I know why HubPages was invented.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey Nicomp, nice to see you. Yes we are really into high journalism here at HubPages. Now if we could use the pages like the Sears Catalog...

Thanks for follow, I've been a fan of yours for a long time. =:)


Cathi Sutton profile image

Cathi Sutton 3 years ago

Another funny, yet logical article! I want the bamboo toilet paper making machine. I want to sell the product to my friends, family, and neighbors. YES!

On a more serious note (B flat actually...) I use three squares only for # 1, and as few as possible for #2. I also abide by the wonderful, "If it's yellow let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down" to conserve water. As I'm sure you do too.

Great article!!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 2 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Cathi,

I took a sabbatical, thanks for the comment. My bamboo to tissue machine is being attacked by my neighbor's bamboo forest and three of my rooms are full of toilet paper. Now if it only had a pillow and mattress setting..... =: )


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

Very funny and educational as well; what fun to read, between your clever puns an alliteration!

In the countries where "...the left hand is used..." I never realized that meant sans paper or other intervening material! Yuck! No wonder the cultural taboo of eating left-handed...still...there IS soap and water.. yet, pity the poor person born in such a society with a birth defect, or meeting with an accident and missing the right hand......

Well done article, my friend!

Voted up, interesting, useful and funny.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

Do you eat corn? If so, you should stop immediately because every kernel means that a corn stalk was cut down. We lose billions of corn stalks every year just so people can have salsa.

Seriously, trees are purpose-grown to make TP. Manufacturers don't sneak into redwood forests with silent chainsaws.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

That video of making and deploying a parachute is awesome! You have shown, in my opinion, some of the best side of American ingenuity. Keeping the "boyish" curiosity about you, experimenting, learning from each and every mistake, trial and error at its best, brings real rewards and success. Where would we be in this world without such brilliant work as you have displayed?

To some who are not technically minded, it might all seem a bit mundane and pointless. But I am with you in this and congratulate you, especially on producing such a clear demonstration on video.

Finally, please give my congratulations to the surgeon who gave you a workable thumb on your left hand!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 2 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Thank you Ms Lizzie, Nicomp and Jonny....

Jonny I join you and Lizzie in being thankful for a working right and left hand, but as long as my bamboo converting machine holds out I intend to spoil not soil myself. =: )

Nicomp, I don't know how you come to terms with Nicompoop, but I'm sure you do it in the most responsible manner. Oh, and don't feel bad for the husks and stalks, lot's of farmhands still prefer that method. =: )

Thanks again D&N, always entertaining and Jonny, you may have come lately, but you cast a bright light. Welcome and enjoyed the visit,


nicomp profile image

nicomp 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

Winsome, that hurts. And burns. And chafes.

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