Chances are that you’ve never spent a lot of time thinking about toilet paper. It’s just one of those household staple products we chuck in the trolley when we’re doing the weekly shop, and which we only notice when the roll has run out and nobody has thought to replace it. It’s only when you travel abroad you notice that toilet paper isn’t the same everywhere and that there might be a lot more to toilet paper than you first imagined.
Brits Spend the Most on Loo Paper
Prices for everything vary, but it’s surprising to learn that Britons pay twice as much for loo rolls as the Germans or the French, and three times as much as the Americans (although Americans spend the most overall, clocking in at $6 billion a year). Much of this is due to the fact that the big brands spend millions on advertising using cute puppies or cuddly koalas to convince us that their paper is softer, kinder to our skin or the is made using the latest techniques. By contrast, the environmentally-friendly Germans are more likely to buy basic, white paper made with a high percentage of recycled paper. As well as spending more, we use considerably more paper per capita than the rest of Europe too, but not nearly as much as the Americans.
Coloured Loo Paper has Gone Out of Fashion
Just as avocado green or pink bathroom suites have been consigned to the bad taste days of the 1980s, so has coloured loo paper. It used to be the height of fashion to match your peach loo roll to your peach towels and peach bath, but now sales of white toilet paper account for more than 90% of total sales. Will coloured loo paper ever be fashionable again? Although there are some diehard users of pink or blue loo roll, most of us have been firmly converted to white. The fashionable minority who wish to follow the lead of Simon Cowell are instead heading to the other end of the colour spectrum. You can up to £10 a roll on the designer black loo roll which the X-Factor multi-millionaire insists is used in each of his many homes.
Toilet Paper is Hardly Used in the Indian Subcontinent
Loo paper is such an everyday product in Western Europe; it can be hard to imagine life without it. However, in many ordinary homes in Bangladesh or India, toilet paper is unheard of. Most people in these countries have a squat style toilet, and then use either a bucket of water or a nozzle and shower head type attachment to wash when they’re done. This method of cleaning yourself does require some balancing and manual dexterity but it’s something billions of people do every day. It’s also the reason why in many parts of Asia it is taboo to shake hands or eat with your left hand, as the left hand is used for cleaning yourself up after using the toilet and the right for everything else.
What did We Use Before Toilet Paper?
Although they were using an early form of toilet paper in China as long as 700 years ago, toilet paper is a relatively modern invention here in the West. It started to be produced commercially in the latter half of the 19th century. Before that, people used just about anything which came to hand – leaves, grass, mussel shells, fur or pieces of cloth. The Romans invented a “sponge on a stick” for cleaning after using the toilet which sounds great until you learn that the same sponge would he used by the whole village. After the colonisation of the Americas, the new settler used corn cobs or pages out of catalogues or newspapers instead of toilet paper.
The World’s Most Expensive Toilet Paper Comes From Japan
If you’re struggling to come up with a gift for the person who has it all, what about a roll of the world’s priciest loo roll? Coming in at almost £30 for a pack of three, the Hanebisho brand from Japan is made of top grade wood from Canada and crystal clear spring water. The box is lined with silver leaf, and each roll is signed and dated by the person who made it. It would certainly make a talking point in the average bathroom.
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