🧻 Re-designing toilet paper #17
How one tweak can have a large impact
Hey there 🤗
After more than two years of evading corona it finally got me this week, so I decided to postpone the regularly scheduled ‘tings edition and replace it with a shorter and more light-hearted newsletter. I’m not sure what to call this kind of newsletter, maybe a little ‘ting, or how frequently I’ll write one, but if you have any feedback please let me know. You can also vote how you liked it at the end of the email 🤗
Now, in my corona-ness I have been thinking about toilet paper a lot. I think by now my girlfriend has had enough of me talking about the topic, but I thought that wasn’t enough so I’ll share my thoughts with a few more people 🤣
The roll is a pretty fantastic method of storing sheets of material, as a roll gets bigger each additional layer of material adds an increasing length of material while the increase in footprint stays the same. Doubling the length of a toilet roll only increases its footprint by 82%. This got me thinking, how much space and packaging material could we save in Germany if everyone switched to double length toilet rolls?
Of course, to find this out we can’t just compare one roll to another, we need to look at an equal amount of total toilet roll distance. Since we doubled the roll length this is pretty easy, 4 jumbo rolls are equivalent to 8 standard rolls. If we simplify the plastic packaging to fit neatly around the rolls in a rectangular box shape the jumbo package takes up 9.2% less space and requires 9.6% less packaging.
If there’s anyone reading this who could account for the shrinkage and curvature of actual plastic packaging let me know, so we can improve the calculations.
In one year, the 83 million people living in Germany, who have the 2nd highest per capita toilet paper consumption in the world, use 11 billion rolls of toilet paper (to continue the trend of keeping it simple I ignored any demographic factors in the calculation). If you would stack these 11 billion rolls of toilet paper on top of each other you could build a tower to the moon 2.6 times, covering more than 1,000,000 kilometers.
If we break this moonumental 🌝 toilet paper consumption down into the number of packages people in Germany consume per year, we land at almost 1.4 billion packages. If everyone transitioned to jumbo packages we would save almost 1.3 million cubic meters of space, or in other words we would reduce the number of full truck loads needed to deliver this amount of toilet paper by more than 10,000. This number would actually be much higher as the calculation is based on the maximum size truck permitted on German roads.
We would not only save trucking space by switching to jumbo rolls but also reduce the plastic packaging needed. Most toilet paper is wrapped in low density polyethylene, a type of plastic film made from fossil fuels that emits around 6kg of CO2 per kg of produced plastic. If all of Germany would switch to jumbo rolls we would eliminate more than 46 million square meters of the stuff. If we spooled all this material on a 1 meter wide roll we could create an entire new equator line made out of plastic and still have enough leftover to cover the distance from Berlin to New York.
I’d say doubling the length of toilet paper seems like a pretty good idea 🤓
We could take it one step further and make the double length rolls without any cardboard cores, saving almost 45,000 tonnes of cardboard and eliminating 14,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions (carbon footprint of cardboard). You might be wondering if toilet paper still works without a cardboard core, and I can tell you, that yes they do. We recently switched to double length rolls with no core actually... so you can say we are the definition of climate warriors 👌
In all seriousness, I don’t think fixing toilet paper is the most pressing climate issue, we should put more emphasis on fixing heavy polluting industries like steel and cement production, and shifting away from fossil fuels for energy production. But, I thought this was still an interesting little ‘ting to share.
I hope you liked this light-hearted edition of the ‘tings newsletter and enjoyed some of the illustrations that I made 🤗
Until next time, much love,
🌍 Let me know how you enjoyed this little ‘ting
Love | Like | Ok | Meh | Bad (Vote by clicking on the word)
Follow me on LinkedIn, send me links, comments, questions, and feedback. Just hit reply!
☕️ Support ‘tings with coffee
Even this little ‘ting took a while to produce, so if you want to help fuel the process feel free to buy me a coffee here 🤗