The Reason Toilet Paper Is Always White

Toilet paper keeps it simple.
Toilet paper keeps it simple.
gjohnstonphoto/iStock via Getty Images

It doesn't matter whether you grab it at Costco or Walmart or whether it's Cottonelle or Charmin. Toilet paper is always stark white, which makes every bit of residue from its selfless mission to clean one’s rear end visible. But assessing whether a proper wipe job has been done is not why toilet paper is white.

According to Reader’s Digest, toilet paper is made from cellulose fiber harvested from trees or recycled paper and then mixed with water to create wood pulp. Manufacturers then bleach the pulp to remove the polymer lignin, a process that creates softer tissue. (Removing lignin also extends the life of the paper. With it, your tissue might age as poorly as newspaper.) Naturally, that same bleach also renders the pulp white. Otherwise, there would be brown streaks—and not the kind you’re thinking of. The glue holding the cellulose together is usually darker in color.

Obviously, white toilet paper makes it easier to determine when a person has finished cleaning up after themselves. But it’s not unheard of to find colored toilet tissue. In the 1950s, pastels were popular, with people looking to match the color of the paper with their bathroom design. Consumers picked up lavender and beige rolls until the 1980s, at which point concerns over skin irritation and possible environmental damage due to the dyes saw them disappear from the market. Other countries, like South America and Europe, offer toilet paper in different colors. In France, even scented toilet paper can be found on shelves, which seems like it would be a losing battle considering what the fragrance is up against.

As festive as that all sounds, Americans seem to be pleased with white bathroom tissue. Considering dyes only add to the cost, it would be like flushing money down the toilet.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Who Was Jim Crow?

Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The name Jim Crow appears throughout many U.S. history books. It's used in reference to both the laws that segregated Black and white Americans in the Southern United States and the region itself during the period when these laws were enforced. Jim Crow Laws and the Jim Crow South were very real from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries, but a real person named Jim Crow never existed. The name comes from a fictional character used to perpetuate racist stereotypes before the Civil War.

According to Ferris State University, a white performer named Thomas Dartmouth Rice originated the Jim Crow caricature in the 1830s. Rice, known as "the Father of Minstrelsy," would don blackface and affect an exaggerated African American dialect while performing his musical act. Jim Crow was meant to be a racist stereotype of an enslaved person: Like many minstrel personas that came after him, the character was portrayed as a clumsy buffoon.

Though Rice didn't invent minstrelsy, his success helped popularize the stage show format. Inspired by Rice, other minstrel actors borrowed his Jim Crow routine, and soon whites were using the name as a derogatory term for African Americans.

Even after slavery was abolished and minstrel shows faded into obscurity, the Jim Crow character lived on as a label. According to History, the first Jim Crow laws were passed in the Reconstruction Period as a way to limit the rights and resources of newly freed Blacks in the South. Such laws imposed literacy tests on Black voters, segregated public schools, and made it legal for businesses to segregate their customers by race.

How exactly these laws became associated with Jim Crow is unclear, but the phrase Jim Crow Laws was being used by the late 19th century. An 1892 article from The New York Times used the wording when reporting on Louisiana's segregated railroad cars.

Though most people may not be aware of the name's origins, Jim Crow still comes up today when discussing this dark period in U.S. history and its lasting effect on the country.

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