Kitchen Sink – Paper Towels or News Paper ?

Its been few weeks (and some more) since we arrived in USA. One particular personal development for both of us, is to be able to cook some basic Nepali cuisine. Ar present, we are able to cook some of those South Asian taste. This post compares the kitchen between the two ends of the world, well, at least from my perspective.

Both me, and my wife, seldom entered our kitchen back in Nepal. However, we did have some theoretical knowledge, and mm… Nepali smell buds, and taste buds.   Great help from YouTube (this is not an endorsement) and Skype chats from mother, plus few tips from Asian/Nepali friends in USA – made learning cooking a worthwhile. I am not a great cook, but, now I can cook them spices to make me happy.

Things that got my attention

1. Paper towel (and/or big toilet papers – as I called them in Nepal) – Well this is a wonderful kitchen utensil that I am definitely taking back home to Nepal. Its a little too expensive back in Asia, but I guess its all worth it. For one of my friend “Nav” (definitely a nickname of my friend), this is first among the two great kitchen experiences in USA. To elaborate, its basically a paper which acts as towel. Literally, a big tissue paper with a thicker quality role. For more – go to this Wikipedia article. However, I do have some reservation against the environmental impact it might have, as they are “paper pulps” and trees may be at risk. For a quick info, USA is the highest consuming country of Paper towels (more than Europe or South America). [1]

But the idea of a commercial product designed solely to wipe one’s bum? That started approximately 150 years ago in the US.

Paper Towels in general are in fact, more-or-less tissue paper.  A quick web search to see the global tissue paper rising markets, reveals China and Brazil to be expanding in their consumption. This got me wondering of this unusually cook thing. The idea of a commercial product designed solely to wipe one’s bum? This started approximately 150 years ago in the USA, as per this web article.[2] Same article also mentions about two of the most populous nation – India and Indonesia not using not use toilet paper for cultural/hygiene reason. This article also mentions Global tissue paper market at a huge $45 billion industry in 2012.

One up on this topic is a fact that one of my closest, and oldest friend from junior high, has import/export business of tissue papers in India. To quote him – “Ass wiping is a big booming business in India, and soon in Nepal”. 

Diverting back to Paper towels, here are my top three use for it.

  1. Paper Towel rolled up bacon – microwave HIGH for 2-3 minutes, as per required crispiness. [No, I do not prefer bacon, but my friends love it]
  2. Paper Towel lined up vegetable cabinet in refrigerator – Keeps out the moisture and my green veg lasts longer.
  3. Cleaning the kitchen – yes.. the ultimate use for any Paper Towel is to clean.

ALTERNATE in NEPAL

Paper Towel may not be a big thing back home. But there is a very big alternate used in many Nepali kitchen (expanding my guess to other South Asian countries too). Newspaper – the local and/or national ones.  Obviously, we read them, before we put it to use in many other things, one being in kitchen, somewhat similar to Paper Towel use. Not trying to put out a favorite here, but personally, due to a thicker paper consistency – Gorkhapatra is my preferred choice, more than Kantipur and Nagarik. All three are national dailies.

So the topic of my interest here is – will national daily/s be viable alternate to Paper Towels in developing countries?

Some crazy math here.

Went to one of the Walmart web-stores, and got this advertisement (price may differ in future)  [here]. A roll of six of them, costs, approximately $9. From my personal experience here, we end up using two rolls per month (I do not know if its above or below the average use), which is like a three months worth. A year worth is around 9 x 4 = $36. That is $36 worth of paper towel per year, for three adults.

Back in Nepal, we subscribed to two national dailies – Kantipur and Nagarik. This is 12 page each, standard newspaper size paper per day, at about NRs. 3,400 per year for each. Two of them makes, around Nrs 7,000 per year. At current exchange rate this is approximately $70 per year. Plus, due to the poor concept of hygiene (mmm.. is it?) Nepali culture also tend to use old rags as kitchen rag. These are basically old clothing cut up into one foot square size and has life span ranging from one to six months, depending upon its use.

— my conclusion – well newspaper subscription at my place may not be a viable alternate to Paper Towel. Plus, newspaper have ink, and as a healthy hygienic point, wouldn’t recommend. Rags, may also have some creepy food health related conclusions. Plus, as a first hand user of both, paper towels are softer, cleaner and have elasticity in them. My recommendation for my place back in Nepal – well.. mehh.. !!! Trying to improve on my blog writing here.

2. Kitchen Bleach (the chlorine kung-fu) – Second on my list, and also in Nav’s list. Use of this foul smelling, yet wonderful multipurpose utensil has been the main stay of hobby. Learning to make food cuisine, often requires, spoiling/overcooking/destroying. Kitchen damage here is saved by Bleach. No, this is not the same bleach of Kurosaki Ichigo. More about this next week.

References – 

  1. Tissue Market continues to grow [link]
  2. Global toilet paper market driven by the Brazilian and Chinese markets. [link]

2 thoughts on “Kitchen Sink – Paper Towels or News Paper ?

  1. been_gr (@been_gr) 28/08/2013 / 3:15 am

    Good to see you post after a long time.

    I don’t have any beef against paper towel except that it makes me feel uncomfortable about the trees that were fell to produce them. But yes, I do find it hygienic in the kitchen compared to the other 2 options you presented.

    In a Nepali kitchen however, I’d prefer newspaper or even a rag (provided that it is routinely washed and replaced with time). Newspaper because it has a greater utility than paper towels. Rag because it is freely available. Why not paper towel? Because, it is not free (like the rag) and doesnt have much utility (like the newspaper).Plus, given the purchasing capacity of an average Nepali household, paper towels should find a place at the bottom of the must-have list. With a hike in the price of other necessary items, I wouldnt be surprised if it doesnt make it to the list at all.

    Only a personal opinion though. 🙂

    • Prashant Khatiwada 28/08/2013 / 9:24 am

      Good to be back. Two months of new socio-cultural aspect learning is finally giving me some picture of what to write next. Agreed, Paper Towel is something which is at bottom of the list back in South Asia.

      Exploring its alternate however, made me realize that we do have one, and they are the cheap, economical, and viable option for the region.

Comments are closed.