It Ain't Easy Peeing Green

Posted on Friday, November 17 at 08:58 by BC Mary
"They don't use toilet paper here, remember?" he yelled from the other side of the door. He turned it into a song: "I already told you that, but you... weren't... listeniiinnng!" "Please just give me the tissues," I pleaded. He didn't respond. "Dan?" "What?" "Get me my tissues!" "No," he said solemnly. "Use the water gun, like you're supposed to." And I heard him walk away. ... Though toilet paper was invented in China in the late 1300s, it was for emperors only, and everyone else around the globe used everything from corncobs to wool to newspaper to lace for the next five centuries. Widespread use of toilet paper didn't catch on until New York's Joseph Gayetty started selling it in 1857, with his name printed on every sheet. Now the U.S. alone uses 7.4 million tons of tissue per year -- over 20,000 sheets of toilet paper per person, according to Charmin -- and North America, which contains less than 7 percent of the world's population, consumes half the world's tissue paper products. By Greenpeace's estimates, Canada would save nearly 50,000 trees a year if every household in the country replaced just one roll of regular toilet paper with the recycled kind. ... Dan had spent his undergraduate career building and maintaining the miniature ecosystems that purify wastewater using natural processes. "I'm not saying I know exactly what we'll want to use, but composting is definitely a viable option." That's a good point, I could have said. It wasn't like we were building a house in a week. Or even in five years. [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on November 17, 2006]


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