Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Remember when the big toilet paper debate was putting the roll over or under? Make way for the fatberg!

When it comes to putting the toilet paper roll on the holder, I grew up in an “over” household. But somewhere along the way I converted to “under”.

I understand that I am the minority here, but in truth, I can go either way.

I did, however, embrace the family brand, and I am a Scott toilet paper girl all the way….

Scott is a nice compromise between those “cotton-y soft” or “quilted” brands that are too squooshy for my tastes, and the completely non-absorbent, shiny waxed paper variety I encountered on my first trip to England many long flushes ago.

I believe that the toilet paper in the British Museum even had the crown embossed on it. 

It struck me at the time that, if Her Royal Majesty could go out of her way to endorse a toilet paper, she could have chosen one that actually worked.

A square of newspaper would have done the trick far better than waxed paper, that’s for sure.

Personally, other than the over-under argument, and the squooshy soft vs. Scott’s “just right” options to chose from, there shouldn’t be all that much to do, say, or improve upon the use of toilet paper, should there?  After all, toilet paper has been – at least by my apparently lax standards of hygiene –  a completely adequate replacement for hayballs, corncobs, leaves – what about poison ivy? – Sears Roebuck catalogs, snow, moss, coconut shells, a sponge soaked in salt water, mussel shells, and sand, which, according to the Toilet Paper World Encyclopedia were all used at one point or another.  There was also something called a gompf stick, which I take it was a scraper. (Ugh.)  When in Rome, if you were wealthy, anyway, you used a combination of wool and rosewater, which sounds okay as long as you weren’t the one responsible for disposing of the wool.

Having seen them on “reality TV”, I do understand that there are some frugal fanatics who make their own reusable toilet paper out of rags, apparently discounting the water, soap, bleach, and energy (assuming they don’t hand wash) cost of laundering said rags, the opportunity cost spent doing said laundry, and the reputational and child-embarrassment costs associated with being the type of person to make your own reusable t.p.

Anyway, in the world we live in, I would have thought that the lid was firmly down on any to be or not to be discussion on using toilet paper.

If it ain’t broke…

But the consumer gerbil-wheel we all spin on requires constant innovation. So now we are being invited by Kimberly Clark brand Cottonelle to “start the conversation” about the “taboo topic” about whether plain old toilet paper is sufficient to meet the purpose at hand. Or whether:

…North Americans [should get] talking about their bums and on the road to a better way to clean "down there" by using the Cottonelle Clean Routine -- combining dry toilet paper and flushable wipes for a cleaner, fresher experience. With the help of London-based immersive journalist, Cherry Healey, Cottonelle is helping consumers to open up about their bathroom behaviors and "makeover" their old toileting routine. And with a sleek, newly designed dispenser for Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths, Healey is set to start the conversation now. (Source: Kimberly Clark press release.)

Well, all I can say is the Brits have come a long way in terms of their own loo-ish fastidiousness since the days of the waxed toilet paper.

Now they’re telling us how to come clean?

It's true that nothing will leave you feeling cleaner and fresher than the Cottonelle Care Routine. This combination provides a clean you can feel throughout the day so you'll be ready for anything. Unfortunately, since bathroom habits are not something that people regularly talk about, many people don't know that there is a better way to get clean than just using toilet paper alone. According to a recent survey, one third of Americans find "wiping your bum" to be the most taboo topic likely because more than 50 percent of us say we were raised not to discuss what happens behind the bathroom door. However, it seems America is ready to open the door to this topic since 80 percent of Americans say they would be comfortable talking about bathroom habits with others.

Hard to believe that Americans are uncomfortable talking about anything these days. Especially given that, “more than 60 percent of us talk on the phone and nearly 40 percent email while on the toilet.”

I did not need to know this.

The Cottonelle brand feels so strongly about the importance of highlighting better bottom care that it updated the flushables' packaging to an upright, durable dispenser as well as the name - from "wipes" to "cleansing cloths" to better reflect the role they play in a care routine. …The goal is for the Cottonelle Care Routine to become a regular bathroom habit, so much so that having wipes on hand become part of bathroom etiquette. Right now, most Americans agree that not wiping off the seat (94%), forgetting to flush (92%) and not refilling toilet paper (74%) are offensive bathroom behaviors. One quarter (25%) of Americans agree that not having flushable wipes is offensive but that number could increase as more people adopt the routine.

More than one quarter of Americans “agree that not having flushable wipes is offensive”?


Well, I suppose that nothing should surprise us here, given that only about half of our country-folk believe in evolution.

Before we all start adopting the Cottonelle Care Routing, and revving up the numbers on how we negatively view those who lag behind the adoption curve, we may want to take into consideration a bit of the British experience with the use of wet wipes “cleansing cloths,” which they have been taking to more rapidly than their American cousins.

What those “cleansing cloths” are doing over there is combining with fat to form something called a fatberg:

A sewer-clogging lump of congealed cooking fat mixed with wet wipes and other products. Coined from fat and the suffix of iceberg.

Last week workers cleared a “bus-sized” fatberg from the London sewer system, averting a huge sewage overflow in the suburb of Kingston. (Source: Nancy Friedman’s blog Fritinancy).

Just what we need.

A squeeze of the Charmin to my sister Kathleen, who first read about this on Britishisms (bum being more of a Brit usage than the more All-American bottom or butt).

And as if the world were not already a crazy enough place, Galley Cat spotted one of the cartoon Charmin teddy bears carrying a volume of Kafka while on his way to do his thing…

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