U. opposed to two-ply toilet paper in campus bathrooms
University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt ’96 said that administrators are aware of the issue and have carefully considered the implications of a potential switch.
“Various offices at the University have received inquiries and suggestions from students about this issue in past years,” Cliatt said. “The determination we have reached after conducting research each time is that the paper products currently purchased best meet our cost and sustainability goals.”
Cliatt explained that the University currently purchases a “mid-level toilet tissue” that is higher in quality than the most basic commercially available products. A move to two-ply tissue, she added, would make little financial or environmental sense.
“Our research has shown a change in products would result in increased costs in the tens of thousands of dollars and increased use of raw materials used to manufacture a two-ply toilet tissue, as two-ply toilet tissue almost invariably doubles the amount of use,” Cliatt said. “Both the additional cost and additional use of paper run counter to the University’s position on conservative budgeting and sustainable operations.”
In a 2008 e-mail responding to a student inquiry about toilet paper, University sustainability manager Shana Weber emphasized that making two-ply toilet paper the University standard in all restrooms would run contrary to the University’s goal of sustainability.
“What justification is there for us at Princeton to switch to what is certainly a luxurious TP, especially in comparison with that used by most others on the planet?” Weber said. “I am rather proud of the fact that we use a simple, minimalist, low-impact, recycled product and believe it speaks very highly of Princeton. Even using a ‘green’ product would directly counter our commitment to reducing paper use on campus.”
Though several peer institutions, including Harvard and Yale, provide students with two-ply toilet paper, Cliatt insisted that Princeton’s concerns with sustainability remain of paramount importance.
“We’re aware that some other institutions may have other types of lavatory paper products, but this is not a reason to change our own policy,” she said. “We have the opportunity to maintain our minimalist resource use in our choice of toilet paper, and therefore will perform more strongly in our paper-consumption reduction than institutions that use two-ply toilet paper.”
Yale switched to two-ply toilet paper in January 1999, a year after Harvard made the switch, according to articles in the Yale Daily News.
But University administrators were adamant that Princeton’s current choice of toilet paper remains the most practical and responsible.
“Princeton can serve as an example of what it means to choose the least-consumptive path, even in the most privileged of environments,” Weber said. “[The University’s current toilet paper choice] speaks to where Princeton’s priorities are: service to the nation and all nations.”