Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Flushable Wipes - An Example of Corporate Malfeasance

Creating a product you know will clog plumbing lines and jam up septic systems across the country is truly evil - as sure as a bear shits in the woods

In the mail today, this missive from the condo association:
A waste line backup recently occurred in the storage room at Building #1, 5703 Indian Court which resulted in all personal belongings in the storage bins to be removed and a bio-hazard company to come on-site to perform cleaning. The drywall in the storage room will be removed 3’ up from the floor and all eight (8) storage bins will need to be demolished and reconstructed. 
The Association has retained a plumbing contractor to place a camera in the sewage lines in an effort to locate a possible blockage or break in the sewage line. 
In addition to the backup at Building #1, backups have occurred at Building #3, Building #5 and Building #7. On-site maintenance personnel have snaked all buildings drains in an effort to clear waste pipes. 
The Association Office has issued previous requests and we request once again to prevent blockages and backups to please refrain from flushing wipes or baby diapers down the commode.  Wipes can cause damage to sewer systems and equipment even if they are labeled "flushable" or "septic-safe.”

Thank you for your attention concerning this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Association Office.
I am familiar with this problem.  A few years ago, a friend came to visit with their new baby.   They brought along a package of "flushable wipes" and said they were the best thing in the world. You can wipe the baby's ass with them, and then flush them down the loo!   How handy is that?

A day later, I am out back with the Roto-rooter man.  He pulls the "snake" from the drain line and the end of it is wound up with so-called flushable wipes.   They are not flushable.

The problem with these products was that they were not made of paper, but rather non-woven spun fibers - plastic, basically.  So they never break down - or not in our lifetime, anyway.  If you have older pipes, such as cast iron, with a rough, rusty surface inside, or clay pipes that tree roots routinely ingress, these wipes cling to the irregularities in the pipes, and eventually stop them up good.

Each package of wipes sold has a $200 roto-rooter visit attached to it.  The cost to society was staggering.  And you wonder why there wasn't a class-action lawsuit - there was!  It was settled, of course, and the lawyers surely made out like bandits.  The homeowners, condo owners, municipal sewer systems, however, did not make much on the deal - not even enough to pay for one roto-rooter visit.   If you were unfortunate enough to own a macerator, things get even more sticky - literally.

That, of course, has not stopped Charmin from selling the damn things - now labeled not only "flushable" but also "septic safe".   Unless they have radically changed the content of these things, this is the height of corporate irresponsibility.

The weird thing about the product is how Charmin created a demand for it out of whole cloth, using cutesy bears to sell the idea that somehow your rectum was covered with "clingons" and that you were unsanitary and unclean.  And the only alternative, of course, was their product.   Good old soap and water would be out of the question.  Create demand - sell product!

Actually, there are a lot of products like that, that largely didn't exist only a few decades ago - paper towels in the 1960's, Paper napkins in the 1950's - even toilet paper in the 1940's.  Prior to that, somehow we survived without these things - or no-deposit-no-return bottles, or trash can liners, for that matter.

Granted, these are modern conveniences.   Prior to the invention of plastic trash can liners, you had to periodically clean out and scrub your trash cans.   If you had something messy to throw away, you might wrap it in old newspaper and hope for the best.  But everything stuck to the side of the can, over time, and over time, it meant a disgusting, messy job to clean it out.  And think of the poor garbagemen back then - not tossing nice tidy black bags into the truck, but rather raw refuse.

Of course, these modern conveniences are not going to go away.   As we are learning right now, much of the materials used in the medical profession are disposable - syringes, masks, gloves, and even gowns.   Rather than wash and sterilize, we wad up and throw away.   And that's probably a good thing, too.

But of course, no one is flushing their surgical mask down the toilet, or are they?  Well, I hope not.  But I am sure if you talk to the guy running the waste treatment plants for the greater New York City area, he will tell you a tale of woe of surgical gloves and masks gumming up the works.  Well, they are in Philly, apparently.

Sadly, this is another example of the evil of human nature.  "Out of sight, out of mind" as they say, and once you flush something down the toilet, it's someone else's problem, right?   Or in the good old days, toss it in the river, and too bad for those folks downstream drinking the water.

Quite frankly, though, the Charmin people are real sons-of-bitches. To begin with, their ultra-soft cushy, multi-ply toilet paper is half the problem.  Not only does it cost twice what other brands cost, it is so soft that it breaks apart, and like in the animated image of the bear above, sticks all over your ass.  They've created this idea that you need to have super-soft gushy toilet paper, as if it comforts your rectum.  But as we learn in life, things that appear to be comfortable often aren't - particularly cushy, overstuffed things - big cushy chairs, tractor-seat-size fur-covered bicycle seats, and so on and so forth - including cushy toilet paper.

I am not saying you need to wipe with sandpaper, but the Scott's 1000-square rolls are a lot cheaper (and store brands often even more cheaperer) and work just as well, if not better, than the Papier-mâché crap that Charmin is pushing.

And flushable wipes?   That is just a scandal, on so many levels.