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Men made to pay - or tweet - for toilet paper

Controversial is our readers’ favourite category this month, with this ad getting a lot of attention, though we’re not sure whether that’s sparked by the notion of men being made to pay/tweet, or because of the current COVID 19-driven run on paper.

“It made me laugh to see people ‘panic-buying’ loo roll in the supermarkets,” said our local café manager. “I was brought up in Estonia, in Soviet times.”

She didn’t need to say more: I did a three-month student exchange in (then) Leningrad, when empty shelves and a stack of one single item were the supermarket norm. The memory of rushing into the loo at Gatwick Airport on return and fondling soft, available paper-flesh is still so vivid in my mind… Luxury re-defined.

Toilet paper in the western world wasn’t around until 1857, when American Joseph Gayetty came up with the idea of placing a box of aloe-infused manila sheets in one’s outhouse. At the modern equivalent of $28 for 1,000 sheets, it was a luxury item indeed.

The use of paper rather than water, sponges, sticks, stones or whatever else was, er, to hand, was recorded in China as early as the 6th century AD.

Puppy love

The Andrex puppy, that cutesome little fella who became such an advertising favourite, was born in 1972. Interestingly, the puppy substituted a little girl as it was thought that images of a child trailing loo paper would encourage wastefulness.

Wastefulness – a notion we’re re-familiarising with.

High-rolling Brits

So, how much of the stuff do we actually need nowadays? Okay, let’s re-phrase that – how much do we actually use?

Toilet paper is a $31-billion global industry, and the Brits are high-rollers, occupying the No 3 slot in the rankings, with an average per capita consumption of 127 rolls. Ahead of the UK is Germany on 134, and the USA topping the charts with 141 rolls – approximately three times the average per person in China.

As for the chaps being obliged to pay for toilet tissue, don't worry, it's not as unhygienic as it sounds. Quite the opposite, in fact, as it’s a U.S. campaign by the Period Movement to lobby for free feminine hygiene products in restrooms, aka toilets.

Bunting! Who Gives A Crap?

Loo roll ads now reflect a wealth of choices as consumers become more aware, and brands make efforts towards more sustainable supply chains and practices. Here’s one that caught our eye this week because of the 'panic-buying' of toilet paper sparked by the coronavirus spread.

Social enterprise Who Gives A Crap sells toilet paper made from recycled paper or bamboo and donates half the proceeds to Water Aid, a charity that builds toilets and provides improved sanitation in the developing world. And with so many people now confined to their own homes, what better than learning a new skill such as how to make bunting from loo roll wrappers?

Even if that doesn't appeal - or you can't get your hands on any of this brand, which, like many others, had run out of supplies at time of writing - isn't it good to have learnt about the existence of something which sells itself under the slogan, 'Good for your bum, great for the world'?


Posted by Tree Elven on 23/03/2020

Keywords: Toilet paper, consumer behaviour coronavirus, Who Gives A Crap, Water Aid, social enterprise, sanitation, hygiene, COVID 19 panic buying,

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