Thou Shall Not Steal Thy Toilet Paper

by Tom Swift

At what point did we decide that the paper dispensed in restrooms requires impenetrable casings?

Are we not wanting to see the toilet paper? The hand towels? Or were people making off with rolls in a rash of thefts undetectable by the authorities?[1]

Now I can see the advantage of having a contraption so big you only have to add a roll once every other year and be done with it. Yet these doohickeys make it near impossible to get the paper out. Or, more likely, if you do get the paper out, you get it out in tiny ripped fractions of squares you must twist into thin balls of nothing.

The total amount of plastic required for just one of these … I mean, how much must it cost to avoid putting normal sized rolls out like was done for decades?[2] This one, pictured, is located in a combination studio, both yoga and martial arts, the average class size of each, anecdotally, being about eight people for classes that meet for only parts of every day. In other words, this behemoth is not positioned to accommodate a stadium full of human excrement — it only looks that way.

And the “handless” paper towel dispensers: it’s possible those might be worse. In theory, yes, it’s perfectly sensible to not have to touch a germ-infested canister  immediately after washing one’s hands. The problem is that the motion sensors on these things, well, not so much. I swear, one of every two I try these days is not functioning — often with no mechanism to manually twist out a sheet.

If you want to reduce waste and spend less on paper, I get it, and I appreciate it. But as long as paper is a permitted option for our restroom needs, can we please have some way to get a slice without ripping out shreds from a plastic armory? Without waving our hands over and over like a failed magician?


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[1] Perhaps the villains flushed the evidence? Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

[2] When, no doubt, a plastics company invented the answer to a problem no one realized existed.