Toilet Paper Is Getting Smaller

Squares are shrinking, and there's not as much on the roll
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2015 8:22 AM CST
Updated Feb 1, 2015 7:14 AM CST
Toilet Paper Is Getting Smaller
This Nov. 28, 2012 photo provided by Eastern New Mexico University shows a case of toilet paper.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Eastern New Mexico University)

Does your toilet paper seem smaller to you these days? Well, you're not crazy: It is. As the Washington Post reports, toilet paper squares used to be 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches. Nowadays, they're up to a half-inch narrower, shorter—or both. (Apparently, it's enough of a difference to be noticeable to the naked eye: Last week, a reader wrote in to the Los Angeles Times complaining about a "26% reduction in surface area.") And, as Consumer Reports noted last year, the cardboard tubes are also increasing in diameter as the number of sheets per roll decreases. But the price is not falling: In 2012 and 2013, the unit price rose about 2% per year. (In 2013, the Wall Street Journal explained that the process of selling less paper for the same price is known as "desheeting.")

"A standard roll is much smaller than it used to be, so now they're selling double rolls. So, without being scientific, I think a double roll is pretty well equivalent to what a standard roll was perhaps a decade ago," a research analyst tells NPR. One not-as-obvious reason for the TP trend is that companies that make toilet paper also make products like paper towels and napkins. Though toilet paper is essential—Americans are estimated to use an average of 46 sheets per day, and that's probably not set to change any time soon—paper towel and napkin sales are falling. In particular, large companies, like offices and restaurants, are moving toward things like air dryers or, the analyst explains, rationing how many napkins they dole out to customers. But they'll never cut down on their TP orders in an attempt to ration that particular product, so orders will remain steady. (As for those hand dryers, you might not want to use them.)

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