Many things in our lives, we take for granted because of their seemingly constant presence in our lives. One of those things, I have found for me is toilet paper. When I arrived at university, my nan loaded me up with a large number of toilet rolls in a plastic container that remains under my desk. Every time I walk down to the shop, I have not yet had to worry about the need for toilet rolls in my accommodation. But the large box sitting in my room has got my asking my usual questions about the origin of things.
When I was first looking into this question, my mind immediately went to the Greek and Roman idea of a sponge on a stick. Although this is the most well-known example of how people would clean up in the past, there were also other materials in use at the time. These other materials included things such as stones and other natural materials. It was also not uncommon to use animal furs and seashells. Greco-Romans would use leaves, moss and even special pieces of ceramic.
Toilet paper how we know it today was invented in the 19th century, specifically 1857, in New York, marketed by a man named Joseph Gayetty. It was labeled as ‘medicated paper, for the water closet’, and sold at 500 sheets for 50 cents. Primarily before this, people would use old magazines, nailing some to the walls of outdoor toilets to be used to clean up after the outhouses use.
So in short, while it is nice to have these necessities, they are not a necessity. People have found a way without them, as well as when we run short. It is of nature of human beings to adapt to the situation we find ourselves in.