Posted in electronic imaging and displays

Can’t see the fibers for the trees

Rather than look at photos from far away, let’s look at photos really close up!

What Is This? A Close Look at Pocket Lint? Hint: It dates back to 6th-century China but never really caught on until the mid-1800s, when it was introduced in its packaged, modern form.

The answer? 

Toilet Paper (Unused)

The Chinese first used toilet paper made of rice straw more than 1,400 years ago. Finally, in 1857, Joseph Gayetty introduced the first packaged toilet tissue, which proved to be more convenient than the previously common practice of using The Old Farmer’s Almanac. (In the almanac’s defense, it did have a hole in it for easy toilet-side hanging.) Nowadays, a roll made up of all the TP Americans use in a year would stretch about 300 million miles—more than three times the distance between Earth and the sun.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

One thought on “Can’t see the fibers for the trees

  1. Yes, we use way too much toilet paper, one major factor could be the size of the average butt keeps growing but let’s not go there. As for water use a drought is always a concern and must be dealt with prudently but please remember that in the big picture the industrial water users always far exceed the water use of household users and in the case of toilet paper manufacture it is huge. The pollution and significant power use from that manufacturing process also contributes to global warming so switching to a hand bidet sprayer and lowering your toilet paper use is very green in multiple ways.

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