In my short lifetime, I have heard more than one perfectly sensible person tell me they “can’t do” cheap toilet paper.
I don’t know why people tell me these things.
It’s like they want me to cry out to Father Dagon and Mother Hydra and bid them raise an army of Deep Ones from the many-columned depths of Y’ha-nthlei to sweep over the land and drown the humans in a cosmic flood as recompense for their innumerable and unpardonable follies.
The cost of cheap toilet paper vs. fancy toilet paper
Let us discuss Them Facts™.
The average price per square foot of single-ply cheap toilet paper is less than $0.01. Luxuriously quilted three-ply toilet paper runs closer to $0.03.
You have the option to pay three times less for something utterly disposable! Why would you not take that option?
HOT TAKE: if you think of fancy toilet paper as a small luxury, you are bad at thinking and should be punished.
Because there are just so many better luxuries! Why not skip the graying $6 steak on sale at the supermarket and go get an $18 marbled beauty from your local butcher? Savor the two-hour process of cooking your dinner and eating it slowly while conversing with a dear friend?
Why—WHY—waste the money you earned exchanging a sliver of your one and only lifetime on the paper you will use to swab up the steak on its way back out of your body?
“Oooh, but cheap toilet paper is so scraaaaatchy!”
I need to ask a few personal questions.
- Do you have hemorrhoids?
- Or some kind of dire anal sex injury?
- Are you cursed with crippling daily diarrhea?
- Are you getting rimmed tonight for the first time, and you haven’t yet worked through your sense of ass-to-mouth shame?
- Is some force in heaven or hell moving you to frenetically sand-blast your cornhole until it shines like polished marble??
Obviously I do not extend my cheap toilet paper snobbery at everyone! If life has dealt you a condition like IBS or Crohn’s or similar, you get a pass. In fact, you get MORE than a pass—you have the moral authority to wipe yourself with hand-embroidered mulberry silk handkerchiefs if it makes your life a little easier.
To the overwhelming majority of people, toilet paper is not a medical aid. It’s something you swipe thrice across your butthole and release into the infinity of nothingness. In a process that takes about three seconds total! Is it really a financial priority to optimize the texture in this brief, meaningless moment?
Ugh. Thomas Paine was right. These really ARE the times that try men’s souls!
“But it’s too thinnnnn. I need at least two-plyyyyy!”
Internet sleuths have discovered a truly ingenious life hack to tackle this very problem.
- First, you take a length of cheap single-ply toilet paper.
- Then, you fold it in half.
- (I know it’s getting complicated! Hang on, we’re almost there!)
- Somehow, some way, through some unknowable miracle of science, you now have two-ply toilet paper.
Why doesn’t everyone know this one cool trick? One word: Monsanto.
“But it’s less absorbennnnnt and I end up using morrrrre!”
Ah, this may be true. But consider that if septic systems had mouths, they would smile at you for giving them such an easily digestible treat. (And that would be terrifying.)
Perhaps you are still a footloose and fancy-free tampon-flushing renter, and you have never experienced the sting (stink?) of a clogged toilet. The average reported cost of a visit from a plumber for the purpose of repairing a toilet is $191. Reflect upon that fact as you read this classic poem by John Donne:
No pipe is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every pipe is a piece of the septic system,
A part of the main.
If a little rubber washer be washed away by the sea,
Your apartment is the less.
As well as if a couch were.
As well as if a refrigerator of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s clog diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the toilet clogs;
It clogs for thee.
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“Toilet paper that isn’t white is weirrrrrd, it’s already brown like pooooop!”
YOU’RE ALREADY BROWN LIKE POOP.
No one’s life is so devoid of problems that they can afford a color preference on the pulverized wood chips they use to remove feces from their anus.
“It all ends up in the same place anywayyyyy!”
I gotta level with you: I researched the environmental impact of luxury versus cheap toilet paper mostly to cover my ass. (LAWL.) Because I assumed it would be fairly minimal!
Boy, was I wrong.
Luxury toilet paper is absolutely horrible for the planet.
Here is a preview of the price the environment pays for the privilege of a once-daily three-second pillowy-soft swish across your glorious anus.
- The cushiony feeling is created by artificially injecting air into the fibers.
- Doing so requires longer fibers, which means 98% of luxury toilet paper fiber comes from virgin trees in old-growth forests, the critical carbon sinks for our ever-heating planet.
- Manufacturers then use chlorine to bleach the wood fibers.
- Formaldehyde (a well-documented carcinogen) is also added to increase absorbency.
- Major brands are using smaller and smaller portions of recycled fiber.
- The average American will personally use 384 trees to make just toilet paper in their lifetime.
It is impossible for us to live our lives without disrupting the environment of the planet we live on. Simply the act of trying can be incredibly draining. But if there is an easy, painless decision we can make—as a people—that will lessen that impact without eroding our quality of life, it is indefensible to choose the more destructive option.
Since luxury toilet paper is destroying the planet, maybe we should stop buying it?
Maybe you don’t give a shit about the massive consequences this has for the environment. If so, consider that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in America. I’m absolutely not saying plush toilet paper is the culprit! But it adds another dimension of practicality to buying cheap toilet paper. Maybe avoid smearing unnecessary chemicals on a sensitive body part because a commercial tricked you into thinking you’ve “earned it”?
“Oh, so I’m a baaaaad perrrrrson for wiping my ass?”
It’s said that Native Americans were horrified to see European colonizers take a fine piece of white linen, blow their noses in it, then stuff it back into their pockets like it was a precious treasure worth saving. And were they wrong?!
Toilet paper deserves obsolescence as much as that disgusting handkerchief. It’s unhygienic and unnecessarily abrasive. There is a better way: bidets.
Let’s go to Bitches Get Riches Toilet Consultant Jihoon Lee for an explanation.
In addition to being more hygienic, bidets will save you a lot of money. It takes about 37 gallons of water to manufacture one roll of toilet paper; a bidet runs on a tiny fraction of that. Investing in a bidet lowers toilet paper consumption by about 75%, saving the average household about $90 per year.
Guys: I want a smart toilet so badly. I honeymooned in Japan, and fell in love with many things about that country, including—yes—their toilets. Once you’ve felt the welcoming embrace of a heated toilet playing pan flute music to cover your plop-plops, every other toilet feels cold and silent in comparison. The only thing holding me back is the cost. Even modest seat-only bidets run into the hundreds of dollars, especially if you have to hire a plumber and/or electrician to help you install it.
One day, I will be rich. And on that day, the Toto C5 shall be mine.
“It’s only toilet paper, why be stingyyyyy?”
Look, some things truly are necessities. The human condition locks us into certain purchases throughout our lifetimes.
Unless something truly extraordinary occurs, you are locked into paying for food, housing, and some general necessities—including toilet paper—until the day you die. In all likelihood, you will spend thousands of dollars on toilet paper to smear the crap off your poop chute as you rotate around our solar system 70 or 80 some-odd times. It may be a small expense, but it adds up. And you have only so many dollars to spend in your lifetime—aren’t there things you want more?
Marketers frame froufrou toilet paper as both a luxury and a necessity. Only one of those things is true. And this statement extends to an enormous array of products marketed to you every single day. Passing over the unnecessary-yet-affordable luxury is excellent practice in choosing how to place your luxury dollars thoughtfully, in a way that will maximize your freedom and happiness.
“But I miss the little paisley daaaaaisy patterns stitched into the quilting!”
Honestly? Me too.
Truly, only we know the weight of sacrifice.
Here’s more of our curmudgeonly advice on saving money:
- 7 Totally Reasonable Ways To Save Money on Cheap Entertainment
- You Probably Don’t Need That Gym Membership
- Businesses Will Happily Give You HUGE Discounts if You Ask This Magic Question
- How To Start Small by Saving Small
- You Are above Bottled Water, You Elegant Land Mermaid
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A version of this article was originally published on February 8, 2016.