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New disposable toilet wipes causing ecological woes in the U.S.

By Alyssa Sellors     Jul 24, 2013 in Environment
Increased waste, clogged sewage lines, increased maintenance and repair costs. These are just some of the results from the increase in Americans usage of the new disposable toilet wipes, touted as flushable by manufacturers.
Companies like Cottonelle ad Charmin have started humorous and catchy advertising campaigns to get Americans on board with the new disposable toilet wipes. Charmin even named the process the “Cottonelle Care Routine” which suggests consumers use toilet paper in combination with their wipes. Charmin, creator of the Freshmates Wipes, uses the ad slogan, “meet your perfect mate” to promote the inclusion of these wipes in addition to the toilet paper routine. The initial problem with advertising the wipes in combination with toilet paper is the increased waste from the increased use of paper products, both the wipes and the toilet paper.
According to an article in Scientific American, cited by bidetsPLUS, a manufacturer of attachable bidets, Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper every year, that requires the pulping of approximately 15 million trees. To manufacture traditional toilet paper also requires 473.6 billion gallons of water, and 253,000 tons of chlorine for bleaching.
Aside from the wasteful ecological effects, these wipes are also causing expensive blocks in sewer lines. Because the wipes are advertised as flushable, people are flushing the wipes, but the problem is it can take up to one hour for disposable wipes to break down, compared to 8 minutes for traditional toilet paper. One solution to blockages is to throw the wipes away, but that still causes additional paper waste. Kimberly-Clarke predicted that flushable wipes sales would exceed $500 million for the first time in 2009, up more than half from 2001, and continue a steady growth reaching $650 million in sales by 2012.
So what can be done? One option is to simply educate the public while trying to get manufacturers to change their packaging. Officials in Grand Rapids, Michigan are doing just this, educating consumers by sending out mailers to encourage consumers not to flush these wipes. Another option is an ecologically friendly bidet that uses water to keep users cleaner than with paper toilet paper, and without the extra paper waste. Bidets are more popular in other countries, but in America there are companies who make attachable bidets that affix to existing American made toilets. Finally, these toilet paper companies can also advertise to throw wipes away, or advertise the use of these wipes instead of toilet paper, rather than in combination with.
More about paper waste, disposable wipes, Ecological
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