Toilet paper is big business, and huge companies compete for your dollars. It’s no wonder that companies like Charmin have “spokes bears” to get you to buy their product. Toilet paper is also one of those consumer products that most of us use and no one talks about – and certainly, not where it goes after we “go!”
However, environmental scientists are talking about toilet paper a great deal because it has become an environmental catastrophe.
Ultra Plush is an Ultra Problem
Americans are pre-occupied with softness. To make ultra-plush, quilted and super soft paper requires the use of old growth forests and virgin pulp. There is no reason why we shouldn’t all be using toilet paper made from recycled paper fiber. Yet, according to the latest statistics only about five percent of Americans use toilet paper made from recycled paper. Ironically, when we go to a hotel or need to visit the restroom facilities at our workplaces or restaurants, 75 percent of the time, that paper is recycled. We seem to survive that experience just fine!
While we are on the topic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States could save 470,000 trees and nearly 170 million gallons of water if everyone in the traded just one roll of regular toilet paper for a recycled roll each year.
Recycled toilet paper is not necessarily cheaper, but it is by far “less expensive” to the environment. There are also papers that combine both recycled fibers and virgin fibers which creates a very satisfactory feel and an environmental advantage.
Expansion of the quilted stuff
Another problem with the ultra-plush and very soft papers is how much it expands. It is a heavy-ply paper and may be several sheets thick as opposed to recycled paper that is a little thinner. People tend to use too much of the plush stuff as well and that leads to a lot of clogs in drains and pipes. “Down the road,” into the waste treatment facilities and waterways, plush toilet paper is creating major problems due to its inability to easily break down, as do plush baby diapers and thick bathroom tissue.
While don’t want to get too personal, if you are unwilling to give recycled toilet paper a try, try using a little less.
Toilet Paper is bleached
Most of the supermarket brands of toilet paper are bleached to get that look of purity. The problem is that the chemicals used are anything but pure. As if the use of all that bleach weren’t enough, there is a chemical by-product of bleaching that is released into the environment called dioxin.
Once dioxin is released into the environment, bacteria cannot break it down. It is even found in the toilet paper products themselves. Dioxin has been found to increase the incidence of cancers, diabetes, decrease immunity, affect learning and lowers male hormone levels.
Those at risk for higher dioxin levels include people who eat a great deal of fish, those who work in paper-making facilities and firefighters who must battle paper blazes.
It is a topic we may not want to think about; nevertheless toilet paper does present an environmental problem our planet must face. We can all do our part.
This blog should start out with a complaint! We don’t have much use for the term “Garbage Disposal.” The more proper term should be “Food Disposal.” Why does that bother us? Because as plumbers you would not believe some of the things that we have seen people try to grind down into the drain pipe.
The disposal is not meant to take care of sticks, flower stems, aluminum foil, pieces of ceramic cups or most anything else that is not food. Hard, non-organic or non-food items are not meant to be put into this machine.
I can’t grind that?
Even certain food items should not be ground. These items can include celery, corn cobs, Brussel sprout stalks, artichoke leaves, pits, large seeds, chicken bones, beef bones and most peels. Yes, orange, grapefruit, lemon or tangerine peels do make the disposal smell better, but only a few small pieces at a time. The system can quickly overload and clog. That leads us to another point.
Just because a homeowner is able to cram down chicken bones, glass or a corn cob, does not mean that there won’t be a clog farther down the line. Also, because Green Tech is an environmentally conscious company, we want you to be aware of anything flushed down your disposal. Sooner or later, it flows out into the water supply of your community.
Hot or cold?
To settle a long standing argument, always use cold water when grinding and never hot water. Hot water releases the fats in the food particles and cold water keeps the fats from dispersing. However, between uses you can flush the system with hot water if you just put in hot water and no food.
No fat zone!
This point leads us to another topic. If you love your disposal never try to put any fats, wax or grease down the drain. This includes bacon grease, salad dressings, cooking oils of any kind, solid fats, meat trimmings, candles and crayons (!), bars of soap (!) or fats from deep fryers.
The slippery substances will interfere with the grinding action but just importantly the fat globules will begin to accumulate in the lines and will build up and restrict water flow. From an environmental point of view, flushing all of these fats, waxes and oils into the waterways is a complete mess. It takes weeks for fats and oils to completely break down and these substances cut down on oxygen and can kill fish and aquatic plants.
Don’t force it!
If your disposal becomes so badly jammed that it won’t turn no matter what you do, do not try to force it. If you force it, you may make a bad problem even worse. We may have to take the disposal apart to unclog the jam and to drain the system. Call a plumber.
NEVER put your hand down a disposal that is jammed. It is just not worth it to get badly injured. If the disposal is badly damaged, they are not that expensive compared to major hand surgery. It should go without saying but a gentle reminder to remember is that children should not be anywhere near a disposal.
A properly maintained food disposal system should last for years…just treat it nicely!