For most of us, our normal daily routines have been disrupted. We have had time to sit back and consider which aspects of our former lives were to the good and which might be discarded. It’s a time for contemplation. Self-examination. Reassessment.
Questions seem to come from somewhere deep inside us, day after day. We need to get to the bottom of things. We need to take stock. And so, I know I’m not alone in asking:
Exactly how much toilet paper do we go through every day?
Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it too. It’s an exisclenchal question, and you’re just sitting there. How much do you use?
“You go first,” I hear you saying eventually, and regretting it soon after. All righty:
Four squares for the first pass (we shall call it the no-look pass), four squares for the follow-up pass (checking progress this time), a final four for the just-in-case. Three more squares for frontsies and I’m good to go again.
That’s on average. There are exceptions for oopses related to texture and volume, and (more rarely) sometimes I can get by with less if the missile is intact and spit clean. There’s a helpful medical chart for poop quality called the Bristol Stool Scale. Humans are wired to count everything in a one to ten scale but unlike the makers of blenders, who apparently can distinguish between grate and purée, poop scientists have managed to scrape up only seven types from One (separate small lumps) to Seven (liquid consistency with no solid pieces). I would imagine where one lands on the Bristol Stool Scale would have quite an effect on TP consumption. If you are a Type One, you might be able to get by with no toilet paper, allowing you extra time to rub your antlers on a tree. If you’re a Type Seven youo’re going to have to trudge to the shower anyway.
I consistently range from a Four (smooth soft sausage or snake) to a Six (mushy consistency with soft edges), generally during the course of a single morning.
That’s where I go wrong, consumption-wise. I’m hardly ever Boom-Boom and Check, Please. I get a real good start right off the bat and then have to revisit the situation two or three more times, eventually accessing contents that might not have had time to set up properly. Add it all up and that’s quite a lot of toilet paper, but all of it seems necessary.
That’s the thing. Ask anyone how much toilet paper they use, and they’ll invariably reply (often huffily) “As much as I need to.” But we know this is highly subjective. There’s genuine need, and then there’s personal delicacy. My friend Sarah divulged that her brother (“Plunger-Boy”) thunders through a half a roll every time he drops a dookie. That’s the kind of thing that will get you notoriety in a family. Clearly the boy does not want to get within two inches of his own nether flesh. He’s like the person who sees a spider on the wall and smooshes it with an entire roll of paper towels and runs out to the garbage can with the whole wad, emitting high-frequency squeaks all the way, and then sleeps with a baseball bat next to his bed. Me, I have been known to spot a spider sharing my pillow and just flicking it away.
But I do go through toilet paper.
That sounds about like what I use. I'm relieved, because I thought it was a LOT (and it is), but I'm obviously not alone in my consumption. I know some people fold the squares over all neatsy-poo, but I wad mine up. I seem to require less that way, plus it expands the distance between the poop and my hand. Around 4 squares for a preliminary wipe, 4 more for a wet wipe (or an actual wet wipe if things seem particularly messy), and a couple more to dry. Talk about TMI — but you started it!
I always buy the largest package possible (I think it's around 30 rolls) and it lasts quite a while. However. After the lockdown, when TP was non-existent on the shelves, I have been stockpiling. I can't find the 30 roll packages anymore, but I find smaller packages and usually get one every time or so that I am at the store. (They limit it to one a trip.) Eventually, I will feel secure enough to stop (at least I HOPE so!), but I know that this will happen again and once again the TP will disappear from the shelves.
I also know that liquor stores are considered vital services, so I DON'T have to stockpile liquor like I did the last time. Apparently they think that if people who rely on liquor can't get it, they will flood emergency rooms with DTs. *rolls eyes at them* How little they know us. We would just break into the liquor stores with wild abandon, like a scene from The Walking Dead.
BTW, I suggest googling "Bristol Stool Chart", and then going to "Images". The pictures and descriptions are quite illuminating. And if/when you have to go to a doctor about something digestive, you can blithely tell him, "Oh, yes… it was a SEVEN on the Bristol chart!" He'll either be impressed or appalled.
Believe me, I have seen the images. It feels like a good ole family reunion.
Ah, a light brush of silliness with your magic wand of enlightenment. I needed it!
This entry reminds me of the BritCom "Getting On" (Hulu), in which the doctor is determined to expand the Bristol chart to 35 categories (I think that's her target number).
I think it is fair to say that this is the post we have all been keenly anticipating, the only surprise being that you have managed to hold back for so long. Verbally, that is. Thank you, Murr, you did not disappoint. I would've commented sooner, but it's been one of those post-curry mornings.
AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
Having bought no TP since early March (or late February?) I have found that by judicious re-use/purposing of paper napkins and paper towels, I can cut my TP use down, considerably. (Hunky Husband is so fastidious that his "used" paper napkins and paper towels are to be prized.)
When only TP will do, I use 3 squares/3 squares/2 squares – unless the reading on the Bristol chart dictates otherwise.
As for impressing the physician by using proper nomenclature, I impressed the new hygienist at the dentist's the other day when I told her that I had a deep pocket on the distal side of #4.
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That IS impressive, your dentist story! Best I'd be able to do in the doctor's office is to say I'm a Number Four on the Number Two Chart.
I haven't used toilet paper since the shortages started. I've only pooped at home. I love our bidet.
I wish my husband would agree to get a bidet! We have just the one bathroom, and each have our own areas of the house that we clean (his area encompasses the bathroom). He thinks that a bidet may be hard to clean, and, ultimately, "unsanitary." *Headdesks* I choose my battles. Also, when I clean, I use environmentally sound products, whereas -as he puts it- he uses "products that work". So, eventually, my lungs will look pure as the driven snow, but his will look like #6 on the Bristol chart.
Apparently we bought TP every time we were in Costco because we couldn't remember if we needed it–it's stashed in the basement–and so even though we let our membership lapse and haven't been to Costco since May of last year, we're still not out of toilet paper. But we're getting closer so I did order that box of Who Gives A Crap. Haven't tried it yet but I plan to like it. Costco is cheap but it's so much plastic everywhere you look. Oh, mimima, you could get a hand-held bidet wand.
I did a study when folks were going crazy about TP early on. I find I use a single mega roll every ten days. I am a single elderly female who drinks a lot of tea. And I am not so profligate in my usage as you Murr.
Wait, there are mega rolls?
Triple length rolls they're called here, with three times as many squares. One of those lasts this single old woman close to a fortnight.
How does it fit in the holder?
I buy triple rolls, too; but, I note that they hold fewer squares than did the standard roll of the 1960s (425 vs 500) – and they are about 3/8" narrower.
Doesn't fit on my holder, I have to unroll it down the double length over about a week or so, then fit it on the spindle which is still a tight fit for the next few days. Our triple length rolls are 540 sheets (squares) but the size of each square is the same as the normal rolls.
My mom taught me to wipe the "front" first, and singlehandedly fold the tissue over double for that back ledge.
So maybe 6-8 squares on a clean getaway day.🤣
I'm really impressed. Wow. A foldover.
As a single guy and what the TV commercials would consider "regular" I go through a standard roll every few weeks. I don't think they last a month, but as long as I have a few rolls on hand I feel secure.
As long as you don't have what we call a "medical emergency" here.
I've always wondered about men who use little toilet paper. My mom taught us to use a square of paper to get that last drop. Does every man's mom teach him that – or – are most men's shorts yellow in front?
Well, now, are we talking a normal day or a day when my IBS kicks up?? Are we talking just posterior cleaning or cleaning up my nose after sinus flushing?? The answer gets complicated, so let's just go with a roll a day on average. Not a mega roll, just a roll.
I know, I know. I am a tree killer. And you can bet I already had a huge stash of TP before the shortage hit, because I always need a huge stash … just in case.
Not standing in judgment here. You earned it.
Impressive, Murr. Truly. I remember listening to Gary Null on a community radio station in Maine about 15 years ago talking quite casually about how a healthy poop should look. Something about a nice mucous coating to let it ease out without messy cleanup. Like when we were kids. So that's always my goal. I can't find any reference to mucous but I'm guessing it's #3 or #4 on the Bristol Stool Chart. As far as TP, I'm of the wadding up school of keeping some distance from the fingers and the object being wiped. Just bought Who Gives a Crap (the bamboo kind) and it's quite nice. I was dismayed to discover many mainstream brands are made from boreal forests, and that brand is supposed to be more ecologically friendly.
It is, and it is also packaged in paper.
A lot of comments, already. This one will run and run.
Simon! It had to be said.
I would guesstimate that rather a lot in this house is used up as nose-blowers and squished-bugs-removal and occasional cat dribble wipers.
Mr and Mrs R. Swipe are probably on the frugal rather than wasteful side though I don't run a tally board.
You will now, though, right?
I have lurked for many years on your wonderful blog, but now I'm forced to comment. Many years ago there was an ad on tv about 'folders' versus 'scrunchers.'and it proved a novel way to open conversations about this topic. My family were all raised folders (more economical it seems) and that's how I taught my three boys. As adults one of them is a folder, one is a scruncher and one refuses to answer the question. My DIL says she is a semifolder. Hmm.Not sure how that works but I'm afraid to question her more closely.
here is the original ad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jkbSWd48lc
I used to wonder if that boy ever regretted making it. Hopefully he was so well compensated it was worth it.
I think I'm a loose scruncher. I was horrified to hear that some people wrap it around their hands. Too intimate. Thanks for plopping in!
Eighty years ago a friend chided me for not folding TP neatly before using it. Heck! We were in a two-holer outhouse and we had never had TP in our outhouse – only catalogues.
I never thought much about this until there was a shortage and although I had a goodly stash, I decided to cut back on usage so it would last. I found I could get by with three squares for the front, then five squares followed by four squares for the backside of things, unless I've been eating far too much chocolate which definitely alters the texture and necessitates a baby wipe for a final clean up. The baby wipe doesn't get flushed of course, because as a plumber once told me only the three P's should ever get flushed. That's Pee, Poop and Paper.
I laughed at a work colleague once who is the type that wraps her hand entirely in paper, using about half a roll at a time, so that she doesn't "get anything on my fingers", but then scrubs her hands as if prepping for surgery.
Might as well just lay in a crate of oven mitts and toss them.
Bravo, another courageous article exploring the areas most are unwilling to go. One reason I follow your posts with diligence (and rarely need to wipe them away).
Good. Some people follow my posts with Pepto.
We had a Friend live with us for 6 Months and she felt she should contribute to necessities being used so she bought Cheap Toilet Paper and OMG, I guess we have very spoiled and delicate Asses because it was like wiping with Sand Paper! She must have a tough Ass… and when Pandemic hit and you couldn't even find TP so had to buy whatever brand you could manage to Score, I HATED when I couldn't get my Charmin Extra Soft! I rationed how much TP the Family could use because Pre-Pandemic we were spinning that sucker like Wheel of Fortune, now we count Squares, honestly, even tho' I have an impressive stash of TP now, you just never know when Panic Buying will increase again!? Your Post made me Smile during a difficult time, Thank You!
Some sort of traumatic shortage must have gotten to my own mom, because she maintained an impressive stack of TP at all times. I don't like TP that is THAT soft. Which is handy because that stuff is made out of old-growth timber, so I'd be conflicted.
I actually prefer Scott, which is one-ply and not too soft, but there seems to be more on a roll, because it lasts way longer than the softer, double-ply rolls.
Mind you, I also like my bath towels rough — no fabric softener and dried on a line. I think I may have whatever the opposite of "sensitive skin" is.
Me too on both counts.
I prefer my towels line dried too, but I do use a smidge of fabric softener just because it smells nice.
After mulling all this over for 24 hours or more I feel compelled to comment that the amount of TP used depends a lot on the type of TP purchased. I don't have the strength to go back through all the comments to see if this particular issue has been addressed – but with that thick soft stuff like Charmin (I presume, though I've never actually purchased Charmin) you need a lot fewer squares than you need if you use the more eco-friendly type. Or that stuff Scott makes that has 1000 squares of incredibly thin paper. And I am – if anyone cares – a loose wadder, not a careful folder.
You KNOW I care.
Goodness me, you have managed to stimulate a conversation about a topic that is more intimate than sex or money! Since everyone is weighing in here, for the record I'll say that when I consistently eat steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast, I'm probably a Bristol 3. This amazes me because before I stopped drinking (mostly wine), every morning would be a crap shoot on whether I would be a #6,#7,or #8.
And just to contribute to your research….I once had a conversation with a medical doctor who was also a drug abuser. He said his biggest problem was that every time he used, he was tempted to do just a tiny bit more. He knew this was dangerous, and he referred to it as "dosage-creep". So when the pandemic hit and there was a TP shortage, I realized that over the previous 10-20 years, I had subtly succumbed to "TP Dosage Creep". Yep, I was right up there with one of your other contributors — spinning that roll like it was the Wheel of Fortune. Fortunately, I did not have to address my TP addiction by going Cold Turkey and ceasing all use completely. Instead, I successfully applied the principles of "mindfulness" and have become a "Four-Square Guy" under normal circumstances. But I still want a Bidet.
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