An Indian Civilizational Perspective

World without the Toilet Paper tubes

TP roll.jpgUnless you have severe issues and have been holding back for a long time or are from the sub continent where a healthier way of water is used, chances are you have seen a toilet paper roll. Remember the tube over which the paper is rolled up on? Well, now the brilliant scientists at Kimberly Clark have come up with a technology to go tubeless. The hole – in the roll, that is – won’t be completely round we learn, but it will fit the spindles in your toilet nevertheless. That’s good enough.

I know many of you must be thinking – BIG DEAL! And what a waste of the scientific mind out there. Well, I thought so too. But here is the statistic that might put things in perspective:

The 17 billion toilet paper tubes produced annually in the USA account for 160 million pounds of trash, according to Kimberly-Clark estimates, and could stretch more than a million miles placed end-to-end. That’s from here to the moon and back — twice.

And the reality is that most of us do NOT recycle these paper tubes!

How do they do it? A trade secret obviously. So all that waste we talked about above won’t be dented so much right away, but sooner or later other manufacturers will figure this “shit” out! Meanwhile, the only clue is that it is due to the “special winding process”. Many may surely be thinking if only some special “winding process” could help ease out things on the other end, that this specially wound paper is to take care of in the first place!

This is what I like about the US. There was no pressing need to “tinker” with the good ole’ TP (toilet paper). But someone did it because it is useful to do for the society. And, it will give them extra money as well, which can finance the innovation that led to it.

The ability to formalize and monetize smarts and innovation remains the strongest ally of the US against the world. Unless other countries and societies can figure to foster this simple thing, there is no way they can touch US as a leader. Jugaad or workarounds, even smart ones are fine. But they don’t make a dent in the world much. They do not have a sustaining power and a leverage effect. Soon, the paper technology will become the norm.. and our children will never even remember the paper tubes. They will grow up without any memory of the TP tubes. Shit, culture changes, huh! But it will be a whole brave new world from here on… without the TP tubes! And when such a world becomes the benchmark, then someone will come up with another innovation 100 years from now to do everything with less paper or no paper at all. Whatever. But one innovation takes the society from point A to point B. Only when the society is at point B, can it be ready for point C. A society standing at point A and doesn’t see any merit or useful of point B, can never get to point C, however good that may be for the greater good.

Innovation is a ladder. Even when it comes tubeless made of a toilet paper!

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