The origins of toilet paper as a commercial product have its footing in the United States. Credited with inventing the first commercially available toilet paper in 1857, Joseph Gayetty provided medicated flat sheets of paper for purchase. In 1883 the first United States patent was awarded for toilet paper and dispensers, which became and are now common everywhere. But brothers, E. Irvin and Clarence Scott, founders of Scott Paper Company, are credited with being the first to widely market toilet paper on a roll like it is still found today.
Though the United States was an innovator in bathroom hygiene it has fallen behind with no innovations in the last 150+ years. Though toilet paper is found quilted, recycled, two-ply, single-ply, infused with aloe, you name it and you can probably find it. While the rest of the developed world continues to use less and less toilet paper moving toward washing with water the United States continues to be the leading consumer of toilet paper consuming 50% more than other Western countries or Japan. Depending on the source the toilet paper industry is between a $2.4 Billion and $6 Billion industry in the United States alone. That is a lot of money being flushed down our toilets.
The environmental footprint of toilet paper production is mammoth. The average American consumes 50 lbs. of toilet paper a year or 23.6 rolls of toilet paper a year. In one day Americans use 34,000,000 rolls which equates to 221,000 trees, 255,000 gallons of water, 88,000,000 lbs of Greenhouse Gases and 161,000,000 KWH of electricity. When washing with water one uses anywhere from 75%-100% less paper. That is in ONE day! With consumers demanding soft and comfortable toilet paper to wipe with the only way to deliver that supple paper is through standing virgin trees. And to get that paper white takes bleach, chlorine bleach. The chlorine bleaching process creates many toxic by-products that end up in our water systems and soil not to mention being absorbed into our skin.
Bottom line – Wash don’t Wipe!