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Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks?

Modern+disposable+paper+towel+design.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+https%3A%2F%2Fpixabay.com%2Fen%2Fwhite-towel-wet-wipes-paper-2728967%2F%29
Modern disposable paper towel design. (Photo courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/white-towel-wet-wipes-paper-2728967/)

Modern disposable paper towel design. (Photo courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/white-towel-wet-wipes-paper-2728967/)

Modern disposable paper towel design. (Photo courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/white-towel-wet-wipes-paper-2728967/)

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The disposable paper towel is one of those ordinary, everyday objects we tend to use daily but often have no idea about its history.

“I don’t know. I probably use twenty five or more paper towels every day,” says junior Anna Taylor.

The majority of people are probably unaware that the paper towel was actually invented in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, what did people use before the disposable sheet of cellulose?

“[I think people used] leaves or handkerchiefs probably,” says junior Kenya Adams.

Before the paper towels we know today were invented, people dried their hands on the Reusable Cloth Roll Towel system, in which a clean cloth towel was dispensed and once used, rolled back into the system and was cleaned. However, when an epidemic broke out in Philadelphia during 1907, one schoolteacher came up with the bright idea of tearing pieces of notebook paper and handing them to his students to dry their hands on once they came back from the restroom. This helped reduce the spread of germs instead of using cloth towels, but this also negatively impacted America’s ecological footprint.

“I think billions of paper towels end up in America’s landfills each year. It depends,” says sophomore Shelby Bowers.

Indeed, each year in the United States, 13 billion pounds of paper towels end up in landfills, which is quite an astounding figure. Furthermore, Arthur Scott helped to brand the paper towel by using rejected toilet paper to advertise as “Sani-Towels” with the tagline “for use once by one user.” However, Scott was not the only one to promote the disposable paper towels. In the 1930s, during the Communist Revolution in Russia, an advertisement in America came out with the tagline “Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks?” in an attempt to encourage companies to use paper towels so their workers would be healthy and satisfied, unlike the Russian Bolsheviks who revolted during that era.

“I feel like that [advertisement] would be a little far, but then again, the media did that with a lot of other stuff, too,” says Bowers.

Media does heavily influence a nation’s opinion, and in this case, views on sanitary conditions, which most Americans still retain. Thus, a brief history of the paper towel helps draw awareness to the little things in life that often we have little knowledge about.

 

“ Life’s crazy. Ordinary things matter,” says junior Mason Achee.

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Brashier Middle College Charter High School News....written and created by students, for students
Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks?