The loo roll. The bog roll. The dunny roll. The bum wad. My personal favourite. The use of paper for toilet hygiene purposes dates all the way back to China in the sixth century, with mass production of the bum wad around the 14th century. Rich people used this, but the poorer you were, the more inventive you had to be. Some even used their hands, which is why, and I kid you not, it’s considered bad manners and unhygienic to pass food across a dinner table with the left hand in the Middle East. I must stress, they use toilet paper these days, it’s just a remnant of a habit of the olden days. The left hand was the natural choice, apparently. What we would call toilet paper these days was first produced in the 19th century, with the first toilet roll dispenser made in 1883. Toilet paper might seem somewhat innocuous, but perhaps we shouldn’t be so blasé. It’s a highly interesting world. What does seven billion refer to? What do over 70% of people prefer? And what of Americans and seven percent? Hmm, now you’re tumbling down the rabbit hole…
An American uses an average of 23.6 rolls of toilet paper each year. More than seven billion rolls of the stuff are sold yearly in the US. 73% of the world’s population do not use toilet paper, either preferring a jet of water (which is really unpleasant, by the way) or because, sadly, they’re too poor to afford it. In places such as India, water is considered much cleaner and more sanitary, with cleansing done with a bidet, a lota, rags, sand (ouch), leaves, animal fur, sticks, hands or a corncob. Yes. You read correctly. A corncob. Oh my, that doesn’t half make you squirm. Over 70% of the world prefers toilet paper facing over than under, with ‘over’ scientifically proven to be healthier and safer, but this is a debate I’ll leave for another day. And seven percent of Americans admit to regularly stealing toilet rolls from hotels or places of work. Toilet rolls! Are they mad? Who steals toilet rolls? Sure, it starts with a toilet roll, next thing you know you’re calling in removal men to take the printer…
August 26 is National Toilet Paper Day. Nope… me neither. Toilegami is the name for toilet paper origami, which you see in hotels, where the end of the paper is folded in some fancy way. One tree produces 100 pounds of toilet paper. About 83 million rolls are produced per day around the world. Global toilet paper production consumes 27,000 trees daily. The average American uses 50 pounds of toilet paper each year, 50% more than the global average. In most primary and elementary schools, the reason you can only remove one square of paper at a time is that kids kept deliberately blocking the toilet. Those cheeky rapscallions. But if they are really patient, they could still do it. The largest ever toilet roll was made by Charmin, and measured eight feet high and had a diameter of just over nine feet. And ‘toilet papering’ is when a group of youths throw toilet paper over something. This only happens in America. I’ve never seen it or heard of it happening anywhere else on Earth. But it does go some way as to explaining why they use seven billion rolls annually…
Toilet paper is just there. It’s something we don’t think about but it has a long and illustrious history. It should be more appreciated. And I am aware of how crazy that sounds, but I don’t care. There’s no object on the planet that has such a dire purpose as toilet paper. We’re using 27,000 trees daily for something we don’t even notice. We should thank it every time we use it. Thank you, brave knight, for your selfless sacrifice. It won’t be forgotten.
Ooh look, men in white coats are at the door. I wonder who they’re here for…
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