Consumer Speak

Aracoelli gets a handle on her loo roll shopping

Aracoelli Hinkelmann was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where she lives with Petunia (pictured). She is a biologist and freelance language consultant.
Aracoelli Hinkelmann and Petunia. Inset: a toilet roll tin that came free with a purchase

Aracoelli gets a handle on her loo roll shopping

Aracoelli Hinkelmann was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where she lives with Petunia (pictured). She is a biologist and freelance language consultant.

I use a variety of tissue products, and I think this is largely the norm for Brazilians. For toilet paper, I use Kimberly-Clark´s brand. I buy the 16 roll pack and what is really important for me is that they squash the loo rolls down into the packaging. This is really convenient for me as it means I can buy in bulk, which ends up cheaper, but it can also easily fit into my apartment.

I buy it at my local store, not on the internet. It´s convenient to buy at the store because it´s on my way home, but more importantly because the product has a handle on it and this makes it really practical to take home.

Last year, it was made law in Belo Horizonte to charge for using plastic bags in supermarkets. This is really good for the environment, and I think that so far it is just Belo Horizonte that has done this in Brazil. But it also means that this handle on the toilet paper packaging comes in very handy.

I don´t like white tissue products, I prefer some colour. My kitchen towels have cows on them, for example. They are a little more expensive than the plain kind, but I don´t mind – it matches my kitchen!

I also really like colourful napkins that have a pretty design. They are something of a luxury in Brazil as they are quite expensive. But my friends know I really like them so they bring them back for me when they travel abroad.

My sister recently brought American Dollar napkins back from Buenos Aires, so now my dinner guests wipe their mouths on a $100 dollar bill! I bring these out for a special occasion only, mainly because they are expensive, but they add some novelty to a dinner with friends.

I never check if these products have environmental certifications or not, that is not really an issue. I am aware of environmentally friendly products because I am a biologist, but I don´t choose products because of this. It is not that big here. When I was recently travelling in the USA, green products seemed the norm there. But they are more expensive because they have to pay for the certifications and so that passes down onto the product.

For me it doesn´t matter if they are more expensive or not, or a green product or not, I just buy what I like. The quality and design is more important for me.

I have a box of tissue by my bed, but boxed tissues are also a bit of a luxury here as they are quite expensive. And I also carry wipes in my bag, just in case.

When I was in the USA, I noticed that everywhere you go, if you need to use the restroom there is toilet paper. This is not always the case in Brazil! If you go to a party or a rave, it is rare that any portable cabins have toilet paper for long! So the wet wipes come in handy. I also use them to take off my make up and clean up after Petunia if we are out and about.

In Brazil, carrying tissues in your bag is quite unusual. It is cultural – in Brazil it is very rude to blow your nose in public, we would always go into a restroom if needed. But when I was last in Germany, people would blow their nose at the dinner table and that was a real shock for me. I was shocked! We would never do that.

Brazil has been developing at such a quick rate over the past few years. Using toilet paper is the norm now. Maybe there are some people in the very north of Brazil that don´t use many tissue products, but there is certainly plenty of demand here. People have being buying more things. For example, my mum´s maid received money from Brazil´s Bolsa Familia programme when she was unemployed, and it completely changed her life. The lives of many poor people in Brazil have been changed because of social programmes such as this. The people who do my nails are now having holidays on the beach and travelling by planes, and this didn´t happen before.

Having said that, many Brazilians don´t agree with Bolsa Familia. They think that the government shouldn´t give people fish, but instead teach them how to fish. That they shouldn´t just give people the money. But I think it is too easy to criticise when you don´t really need the money like they do.