“…I love French wine like I love the French language. I have sampled every language, French is my favorite—fantastic language, especially to curse with: Nom de Dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperies de connards d’enculés de ta mère. You see, it’s like wiping your arse with silk, I love it.”
(The Mérovingien in The Matrix 2. Watch Lambert Wilson and swoon…)
So this is about French and toilet paper.
Americans, evidently, do like to wipe their asses with silk. Or the next best thing. According to the ecogeek article Which Is Worse? Hummers Or Toilet Paper?, Americans use “three times more toilet paper than the average European.” (No, they’re not dirty, you’re just wasteful.) To add insult to injury, Americans prefer quilty, cushy TP for their tushies, which are obviously too good for recycled paper; more than 98% of the TP sold in America is from virgin wood. In Europe, on the other hand, nearly 40% of TP sold is made from recycled paper products. Sales of high-end brands are increasing in some US markets despite the deplorable state of the planet. And I won’t even start on how eco-unfriendly wipes must be…
Americans also evidently don’t want to learn French. In Minnesota, a state university has just decided to do away with the French degree program (German too, for that matter). A middle school in New York cites declining enrollment and budgetary constraints as the reasons why French classes are threatened…
(I’m from southern California and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say their kids are taking Spanish because it’s practical and at least they’ll be able to talk to their maids. I am not kidding.)
It could easily be argued that France contributed more to Western civilization than any single culture besides the ancient Greeks, but Americans are generally unaware of that. (Not that they would care if they knew. And they wouldn’t believe the French had invented the Monster Truck anyway…). They don’t realize the extent of France’s economic power, or its geopolitical importance. Americans have no idea that the French are practically the only people who still question everything. They’ve forgotten how important it is to do that.
I’ve always had the impression that Americans think of France as a place that was once an important country even though the men wore tights but that now it’s nothing more than a theme park for francophiles.
Back to toilet paper. Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council have published a handy comparative guide to TP brands (and paper towels, paper napkins and facial tissues) in the US, showing the environmental impact of each of them. You can even print it and fold it up so it’ll fit in your wallet. If you must. If you don’t think you can just remember the good brands to buy.
My advice: If you really want that silky sensation, learn French. And then buy TP made from recycled paper.