Charlotte Minor is a long-time Colorado resident but grew up in Maryland and Michigan and also lived in Arizona for a time. Now retired, she worked for a decade as a journalist on small town newspapers in Arizona and Colorado, and later in a series of clerical jobs as a school registrar, textile catalogue writer, library acquisitions clerk and data analyst.
I grew up in a family that, of necessity, went with the cheapest tissue and towel brands available. My father would definitely have qualified as a hoarder. He’d grown up during the Depression, and saved pretty much everything because it might one day be valued for its ‘collectivity’.
Much of that attitude rubbed off on me and is probably the reason I didn’t want to just send the unusual vintage giant tissue boxes from the 1930s that I have in my collection to landfill.
I imagine there’s some sort of Kimberly-Clark or Kleenex product museum somewhere that might have answers to some of these sorts of questions, so I contacted Tissue World Magazine to see if there is anyone who can help me find a home for them!
The huge boxes are from the 1930s and so interesting and unusual. Giant boxes like that provoke questions about people’s buying habits in the 1930s. Maybe they are some early-day precursor to paper towels? Since they have places for hanging the boxes, did everyone in those days have tissue dispenser boxes hanging on the walls instead of just sitting around on surfaces like we do today? It would be great to find someone who might have a tissue collection and who would want to collect them.
I collect paper ephemera myself, but of a different type – I have a lovely album of antique early 1900s and some late 1800s Victorian Christmas postcards. I also sell ephemera online (through eBay) and find there is quite a market for my dad’s educational ephemera from the 1940s-1970s as well as all sorts of advertising ephemera.
Growing up, another attitude that rubbed off on me was my mother’s credo: “Don’t go anywhere without Kleenex”. If I find myself out and about when a runny nose strikes, I reproach myself if I don’t have a stash of Kleenex in my pocket.
There were so few brands of tissue available when I was growing up. The only ones I really remember from the Sixties are Kleenex, Charmin and Scott. The major change I’ve seen for these types of products over the years is the increase in number of brands, a multiplicity of choices to make when deciding which product to select from the grocery store shelves. There are so many types of paper towels, facial tissues and toilet paper that one can stand for quite a while in the aisle pondering the best possible selection.
As to the products I prefer, a toilet paper roll that fits inside our wall-mount toilet paper dispenser and doesn’t leave a tonne of flake debris strewn on the floor beneath it is a must.
Unlike when I was growing up, we now focus on buying facial tissue with an unscented brand that doesn’t “flake” off pieces of tissue. I also have an odd obsession with buying the ones that come in cube-shaped boxes rather than the conventional style box, probably just because I have a few decorator dispensers into which they fit perfectly.
For paper towels, I love the new “Pick-a-size” style of paper towel roll; I love having that option to go with a small or large piece, depending on the task at hand.
I never buy napkins because we use a more sustainable option – fabric napkins. However, I make an exception for those gloriously beautiful holiday napkins with reindeer, poinsettia, owl or other prints! I can’t resist buying a couple of packages of them on sale after the holidays for the following year’s events. (If I’d known in January 2020 that I wouldn’t be needing them, as events are impossible this year, I would have skipped a year!)
I do feel it’s best to buy environmentally-friendly tissues and towel products, though I’m sometimes torn between the proper environmental solution and the least expensive option.
I was quite annoyed at a certain large bulk retailer when its toilet paper and paper towel products not only were encased in a large plastic wrap around all 24 items, but also had individual plastic wraps around each roll! That is overkill on the non-sustainable plastic that winds up creating plastic islands in our oceans!
I recently read an article about Americans’ obsession with luxury toilet paper causing deforestation of Canada’s forests, which has caused me to re-assess the toilet paper brands I use. Once the shopping protocols I’ve been following during the pandemic (online purchase and curbside pickup) are no longer necessary, I plan to investigate some of the brands made with bamboo.
During 2020, Covid-19 impacted my tissue-buying habits in that we order everything online and thus are at the mercy of whatever brand is available for online customers who will be picking up their products curbside. We pretty much have to accept substitutions, regardless of whether they conform to our brand choice. So far, despite the toilet paper hoarding trend at the start of the first wave of Covid-19 in the US, we haven’t been unable to score toilet paper, facial tissue or paper towels from our local grocers. It was fun seeing all the tips and comments about possible places to purchase toilet paper in local Facebook groups and Next Door back in March-June.