Taking issue with toilet tissue
And in that the self-righteous crusaders at Greenpeace are way ahead of you. You see, Greenpeace cares about how you wipe your bum.
For centuries human beings had been driven by a desire to find an ideal way to, ahem, clean up after answering nature’s inevitable call. In none of this do I intend to be indelicate, by the way but, hey, we all do it. Even the Queen does it. It’s that great human leveller. Winston Churchill once suggested that the ideal way to rid yourself of stage-fright if you are called upon to speak in public is to picture your audience, no matter how distinguished it might be, naked. I’ve often thought that even better would be to picture those people moving their bowels or urinating.
But, dignity aside, the quest has always been one of dealing with the realities of the situation in the most comfortable way possible. That is delicate territory down there and we naturally seek a way to deal with the situation that reflects that delicacy. Even back in Renaissance times bawdy old writer Rabelais penned a tale of Pantagruel trying to find the ideal means of, you’ll pardon me, wiping his ass. He finally settled on the soft feathers to be found on the neck of a goose – still attached to the living goose, by the way. He doesn’t suggest what the goose thought about this, but for Pantagruel it worked.
Down all the years people have made do in many ways, including the time-honored Sear’s catalogue hung up in the outdoor biffy. Travelers from North America to the UK in the old days were often horrified by the quality and harshness of the toilet paper there (it has improved immensely, by the way) and some even took to bringing a few rolls of back-home softness on their travels.
The Continent wasn’t much better in those days. I remember some in Bavaria back many years ago that was literally the consistency of the crepe paper you’d use to decorate the gym for a sock hop.
Over the years, however, it got better and better both sides of the ocean. And that eventually brought us right up to today, and evoked the wrath of the Greenpeace prigs. There target is the Kimberly-Clark people who a few years ago began smearing lanolin or cold cream or something between the sheets for an even smoother and more comfortable ride on the porcelain throne.
It seems that the fancy bumf is environmentally unfriendly and takes thousands of years to break down in the landfills and lays waste forests all over the world for the sake of our bum comfort:
"We have this myth in the U.S. that recycled is just so low quality, it's like cardboard and is impossible to use," said Lindsey Allen, the forestry campaigner of Greenpeace.
Campaigners hope the guide will counter an aggressive marketing push by the big paper product makers in which celebrities talk about the comforts of luxury brands of toilet paper and tissue.
Environmentalists say those specialty brands that put quilting and pockets of air between several layers of paper are especially damaging to the environment.
Luxury brands such as three-ply tissues or tissues infused with hand lotion are now considered part of the fastest-growing market share in a highly competitive industry, according to paper manufacturers such as Kimberly-Clark.
The company’s latest television advertisements show a woman caressing tissue infused with hand lotion.
The New York Times reported a 40 percent rise in sales of luxury brands of toilet paper in 2008, and as the recession deepens, paper companies are anxious to keep those percentages up.
So, what’s our alternative? Go back to unfriendly single-ply coarse stuff with the odd wood-chip in the mix or keep pampering our pretty asses? Will eschewing the multi-ply softness drenched product of a wasteful society make you feel flushed with pride?
I have no answers. I mean, hey I use cloth shopping bags and drive an unthirsty car, I recycle all that can be recycled. Do I now have to feel guilt each time nature calls and I must fret over the fancy soft stuff we have?
I’m of two minds. I live in paper-mill country and these operations are closing down and throwing my fellow citizens out of work. My conscience tells me that bolstering my local economy should take precedence over Greenpeace’s angst about cutting down trees. Trees that were, after all, raised to be cut down and processed. Convince me, GP, that virgin forests are being laid waste to pamper our bottoms and I’ll switch to single ply. This works for me.
Otherwise, leave people to their morning, afternoon, or evening 'meditation' in comfort in these stressful times.
Labels: It's a question of fundamentals