The other day, I was in a public bathroom and saw the other guy compulsively pull out three paper towels one after another from the dispenser. He hadn’t even finished using the first one when he started crumpling the second one. By the time he flung them all into the disposal bin, each was not even half used. He evidently didn’t need all three paper towels. Americans have no idea what a privilege it is to have paper towels and toilet paper in their public bathrooms.
We all know where paper comes from, right? We’ve all heard the age-old environmentalist grievance, “You’re killing trees!” Well, that’s technically true. Three paper towels obviously do not equal a tree, but how many public bathrooms are there in America? How many people use public bathrooms? How many people use more paper towels and more toilet paper than they need?
America is very likely the only country in the world I’ve seen that has paper towels and toilet paper in public bathrooms. Most European countries have at least toilet paper, but don’t expect paper towels. Maybe just a towel attached to a roller on the wall like the ones you’re used to seeing in America. Hey, used towels are re-useable. You can wash and sanitize them. Once you use a paper towel, crumple it, and dump it in the trashcan, it’s gone for good. As expected, there are exceptions to this description in Europe.
Many countries in Asia don’t have even a cloth towel in public bathrooms. People are used to bringing handkerchiefs. It’s the lack of toilet paper that still throws me, though. I know natural resources demand that they conserve, but if you don’t bring tissue packs with you, you’re pretty much screwed. Well, it can be a new experience…for your fingers. The sink usually works. If you find toilet paper at a restaurant, you know it’s probably upper-class.
America has the unique privilege of having toilet paper and paper towels in practically all its public bathrooms because it’s a big country with vast resources. When it doesn’t have natural resources, it uses its financial resources to get some. Other countries are not as fortunate.
At home, my family has a trash bin for disposing toilet paper. When I was a kid, the first time I used the bathroom at school, (believe it or not) I was wondering where to throw away the toilet paper because there was no trashbin nearby. For a while, I actually folded it up and walked to the paper towel receptacle to throw it away. Americans are some of the only people in the world who can consistently expect to have a plumbing system in their home strong enough to flush waste along with toilet paper.
There’s nothing wrong with throwing toilet paper into the toilet. Just know that it is a privilege to be able to do so. Don’t take it for granted.
Of course, if there’s no trashbin nearby, it is quite necessary to flush the toilet paper down with the waste. It would be a little excessive to throw it into the trash bin all the way in the other corner of the bathroom, just as it is excessive to use three paper towels when you only need one.