Life Coach Magazine

"In Our Modern Houses, We Take So Much for Granted"

By Aqualed @aqua_led

 "Damos por sentado mucho del equipamiento, infraestructura y servicios de nuestras casas modernas"
Education. "In our modern houses, we take so much for granted" is how Lucie Worsley, chief curator of the historic royal palace, guides us into a 800-years journey that explores the history of our homes. Her enthusiasm for history reminded me that besides being entertaining, looking back in history can be used as a didactic resource to show students and young engineers how valuable the inventive of the human being is for the advance of our civilization. To explore such inventive, I invite you to trace back the history of a simple element: the toilette paper; a very simple yet indispensable element of our modern life.
How is the toilette paper made? Most of the paper currently used is made of recycled material along three production stages : 
  • Rinse to remove paper coating and inks; whitening and disinfection.
  • Paper machine: Refining of the paper, drying and rolling.
  • Conversion: Where the type of product is defined.
*Treatment of effluents is also a fundamental part of the process.  Q&A. Toilet paper and septic tanks.- Although most types of toilet paper can be used within systems based on septic tanks (the break-down of toilet paper may vary depending on the type of paper and its composition), the life of such a system will depend on not flushing other kinds of papers to avoid clogging.How was it before its invention?Considering that its fabrication demands a relatively complex process, can you guess what do people used to do years before the invention of the modern sanitary paper? Such question is not difficult to answer if you use your imagination. Nowadays in the country side are still used rocks, shells, leaves, or whatever material is found handy, just as e.g., American pioneers used to do at the beginning of the XVIII century (AC). Of course, back then, magazines and calendars were also useful before retailers began using satinated paper.
Other cultures were more imaginative. Greeks used to use peaces of clay and shells, Vikings used discarded sheep´s wool, Romans shared sponges on a stick kept in a jug with salty water (V BC - V AC) (luckily Sponge Bob was born in the 20ths), simply water in India (some cultures keep that tradition), and the French monarchy preferred perfumed laces or hemp. Actual paper was first used by the Chinese in 1391, when the emperors order the production of 0.5x0.9m sheets of paper. In the US, the toilet paper was first commercialized in 1857 under the name of "therapeutic paper" by Mr. Joseph Gayetti, marketed on the form of moisturized flat sheets. Later, in 1867 Thomas, Edward, and Clarence Scott successfully marketed the rolled toilet paper.
Toilet paper, toilets and sanitary engineeringToilet paper takes to toilets and toilets lead to the early beginning of sewers and sanitary engineering, which constitutes one of the most relevant advances of our modern civilization. Before the "invention" of sewer systems, people used to dispose their organic production wherever they could. You can imagine how as the concentration of people grew, the infested cities became the source of infamous plagues, often attributed to malign spirits. And all due to the absence of our modern disposal channels.  
Besides being entertaining, to track back the advances of our civilization is a useful educational resource, not only for the individuals enrolled in technical matters, but also for common people who take most as granted. As simple as it seems, this has practical importance in complex matters such as sanitary and sewer engineering, and disaster management. The latter are, as said, very complex to analyze, and should be the topic of a different entry.
In my forthcoming entries: I will continue tracking back the history of the sanitary engineering through short retrospectives of the elements of our modern bathrooms. If you wish to know more and do not want to wait, check out the references below for more information.

"A history of the toilette paper" by Lucy Worsley (watch it here)
"Así se hace: El papel higiénico" (video-español)
"Hecho en América Latina-""Historia en su baño-Papel higiénico: Revolución por la puerta trasera", BBCMundo Press article (BBC site in Spanish).
"History of toilets" by  Dr. B. Pathak
"How products are made: Toilet paper" (web link)
"If walls could talk: An intimate history of the home", Lucy Worsley.
"The virtual toilet paper museum" (visit it online)
"Toilets, earth closets, and house plumbing" at the Sewer History site.

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