November 05, 2019

Toilet Paper: The Unexpected Currency of the World

Rai Cornell

On December 19, 1973, Johnny Carson – host of The Tonight Show – said, “You know, we’ve got all sorts of shortages these days. But have you heard the latest? I’m not kidding. I saw it in the papers. There’s a shortage of toilet paper!”

Reel Paper Toilet Paper: The Unexpected Currency of the World

He meant it as a joke. Yet, many of the 20 million viewers in his nationwide audience took him seriously. Their run to stock up on bathroom tissue caused panic and created an actual temporary shortage. Some stores even waited several weeks before being able to restock.

In other parts of the world a toilet paper shortage is no joke.

While Americans have the luxury of debating 2-ply versus 3-ply, in many countries bathroom paper is becoming such a scarce item that it costs a premium.

Unpredictable Behavior Prompts TP Panic

In Great Britain, current political events are causing citizens to put a high premium on loo paper. With the fate of Brexit hanging in the balance, Brits are stockpiling in case a rocky transition creates shortages or dramatic price increases.

Wowcher, a British e-commerce company, says sales of toilet roll products were up 29 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

Farther east, China is experiencing a bathroom problem of a different kind. The South China Morning Post describes some of the country’s famous tourist attractions as “hotbeds of toilet paper kleptomania.” Citizens have been stealing rolls, without any obvious reason, from public restrooms to use in their homes. Disruptions in those supply lines are causing shortages, the impact of which is no more evident than the public restrooms that are rarely stocked. The resulting shortage has prompted the government to install facial recognition cameras that allow just 24 inches of toilet paper to be dispensed within any nine minute period. Try again within that time frame and your request is denied.

Toilet Paper Under Lock & Key

In another region of Asia, Taiwan is experiencing skyrocketing prices for toilet paper. Because they lack the natural resources to produce TP on their own, they depend on countries like Canada and Brazil for wood pulp.

Disruptions in those supply lines are causing shortages, the impact of which is no more evident than in the public restrooms that are rarely stocked.

Many schools require students to bring their own tissue, while rolls for the teachers are kept under lock and key. Imagine a roll of toilet paper being signed out like a library book.

Reel Paper Toilet Paper: The Unexpected Currency of the World

Shortages of bare essentials are nothing new in Havana, Cuba. Yet, recently store shelves have been empty of toilet paper. In an effort to ease the shortage, the government announced the addition of new equipment to produce two types of bathroom tissue: a high-quality toilet paper for tourists and an “ecological” paper for Cuban citizens.

In the absence of proper paper what does one do? For decades, Cuba's solution to provide "ecological" toilet paper has meant that Cuban citizens use the official state newspaper for more than reading.

A Solution to Shortages Around The Globe

We tend not to appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Thankfully, there are new options to combat the toilet paper shortages around the world in countries like Great Britain, China, Taiwan, Cuba, and more.

To help make toilet paper more available and more earth-friendly to produce, Reel Paper has created a sustainable TP product from bamboo – the ultimate ecological material.

The wonderful bamboo plant grows super fast, is grown without herbicides or pesticides, and requires no irrigation. Plus, toilet paper made from bamboo is super soft, so your bum will be happy, too.

Now that's a toilet tissue you can feel good about using!

To support the sustainable toilet paper movement, learn more about our amazing bamboo-made product and our special give-back, too.

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