Sharmaine Collins works in project management at London’s Tate, an institution that houses the UK’s national collection of British and international art. She talks to TWM about a recent trip to the USA where she was impressed with hygiene standards, especially at the Coachella music and arts festival in California.
“As long as a product isn’t too harsh on my skin I am happy to forego “luxe” over value and I am almost completely oblivious to brands – sorry, marketing just doesn’t work on me.”
“Being asked to talk about one’s tissue consumption and buying habits is certainly a new one on me, but it did make me realise that I do buy a fair few products, probably spending about £25 a month on toilet paper, kitchen roll, tissues (boxed and pocket-sized), hand wipes and make-up removers. I am definitely led by price over brand and buy most of the above from Poundland (although there are other pound shops to choose from!) or the supermarket. As long as a product isn’t too harsh on my skin, I am happy to forego “luxe” over value and I am almost completely oblivious to brands – sorry, but the marketing just doesn’t work on me.
“Poundland does a great line in dual packs of facial wipes imbued with all sorts of special properties – anti-aging serums and exfoliating beads, to name but two – which don’t particularly interest me but do add lovely fragrance! I am also always loathed to leave the shop without a multipack of pocket tissues – at just £1 for 12 packets, you can’t go wrong.
“I have to say, I have a bit of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) when it comes to hygiene and can’t bear the thought of leaving home without tissues or hand wipes, so those are always to be found in my handbag. I love festivals too, so my supplies become ever more critical in those situations. At Coachella this year, I spotted a girl sporting a roll of loo paper jazzily attached to her belt. I applaud her foresight but actually there was no need as, amazingly, the organisers had laid on some loos with attendants that were kept clean and fully stocked – I’ve never encountered such excellent amenities at a festival before.
“On the same trip to the US, I noticed that all restaurant, bar, hotel and public toilets were stocked with paper seat protectors. I think these are brilliant and really wish the UK would follow suit, they make every trip to the loo outside your own home infinitely more pleasant!
“I‘m afraid I’m not terribly environmentally aware and don’t think especially hard about a product’s sustainability credentials before making a purchase – though it is always a bonus if I spot a Recycled symbol. I do worry about the amount of waste that goes into landfill though, and if more tissue products can be produced from sustainable sources – and advertised as such in a simple, quick-to-read way – then I do think that would have some influence on my buying habits.
“The one tissue product I rarely buy is napkins – I double up and use kitchen roll instead. On the odd occasion I do buy them, for a dinner party perhaps, I favour IKEA as they stock lots of different colours, and they are perfect for complementing a table theme at very little expense.”
*Noun for toilet. Mainly British.