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Rick Steelhammer: Toilet paper trade war would make it difficult to enjoy the go

Authors of a report released last month by a pair of environmental groups chafed at our country’s three biggest toilet paper producers for relying on trees from virgin Canadian forests to keep top USA TP brands squeezably soft.

The report, produced by the Natural Resources Defense Fund and Stand.earth, created a brief media splash, giving copy editors a chance to compete over how many potty-themed words they could squeeze into their headlines. I give Canada’s National Post brownie points for coming up with “U.S. plush toilet paper use wiping out Canada’s forests, flushing away the future: report.”

I would have gone with “U.S. No. 1 at No. 2 Waste.” Such a headline succinctly highlights the report’s criticism of U.S. toilet paper companies for not using recycled fibers in their products, and carping at U.S. citizens for having the world’s highest per capita rate of toilet paper use — more than three rolls a week.

While a number of U.S. companies produce toilet paper that does include recycled paper and other non-wood fibers, companies producing the high-end brands, so to speak, still rely on long-fiber coniferous trees from Canada’s north woods to create a kinder, gentler product.

The report dumped on Proctor & Gamble in particular for not using recycled paper or alternative materials like bamboo or wheat straw in manufacturing America’s top-selling brand, Charmin.

My main beef with P&G has to do with a marketing plan that relies on a family of animated “Enjoy the Go” bears, whose lives revolve around trips to the bathroom followed by generous applications of Charmin. An old saying in the form of a question familiar to many American males makes it abundantly clear that bears “enjoy the go” in the woods, not atop a commode seat.

Maybe I’m a prude, but I think the Charmin bears enjoy their bathroom breaks a bit too much. As Exhibit A, consider this block of ad copy from P&G’s Charmin website:

“Life is full of little pleasures. Watching the sunset. A hug from your kids. Walking barefoot in the sand. And going to the bathroom.

“At Charmin, we want you to to enjoy going to the bathroom as much as we do. The relief. The Calm. The Clean. The joy. The pride.”

And, in my opinion — the creepiness.

I almost miss the late Mr. Whipple, the bespectacled middle-aged grocer who spied on his customers while lurking behind displays of toilet paper, constantly squeezing the brand that kept him supplied with aprons. Compared with the pack of animated bears that replaced him, he’s normal.

Meanwhile, toilet paper is now the 141st-most traded product in the international market, and generates $6 billion in sales annually in the U.S. alone. While I don’t care for the Charmin bears, I like their product, especially at the relatively cheap price at which it can now be bought. So here’s hoping our often volatile leader doesn’t get into another tariff dispute with the Canadian prime minister.

Please, Mr. Trump. Don’t put the squeeze on my Charmin.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

Funerals for Friday, September 20, 2019

Barton, Richard - 3 p.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Birthisel, Avis - 11 a.m., Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Call, Denver - Noon, Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Dearien, Tommie - Noon, Stevens & Grass Funeral Home, Malden.

Fletcher, Joanna - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keeney, Steven - 2 p.m., Keith Full Gospel Church, Keith.

May, Rosa - 2 p.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Morris, Linda - 1 p.m., Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Parsons, Harry - 11 a.m., Ellyson Mortuary Inc., Glenville.

Pauley, Clarence - 10 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Pino, Patricia - 11 a.m., Bradley FreeWill Baptist Church.

Rogers, Marilyn - 11 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, South Charleston.

Satterfield, Kenneth - 5 p.m., Satterfield residence, 1161 Daniels Run Road, Millstone.