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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.
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.
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.