If you doubt the inclusion of toilet paper in a list of essential personal hygiene products, just think about how you felt the last time that you needed some and didn't have any. It's essential, all right, and no other product in this list could be called more personal.
We haven't always used this rolled-up material made from wood pulp to get that part of our bodies clean, but there's always been a necessity for it. So what came before that? Other types of paper, usually discarded items such as newspaper or catalog pages, were in use in the early 19th century. Before that, it was all about natural items, such as sponges, corn cobs or leaves. When the Scott brand first began selling rolls of toilet paper in the 1890s, the company was too embarrassed to put its name on the product. Some toilet paper manufacturers called it "medicinal," while Charmin featured a silhouette of a woman on its packaging in the 1920s to associate toilet paper with femininity. Even today, most toilet paper packages read "bath tissue."
The average American uses more than 50 sheets of toilet paper a day and 20,000 sheets of toilet paper a year [source: ABC News]. When you think about it, that's a lot of paper going down the drain. Many of us have our favorite brand of toilet paper, and the more expensive brands are typically softer and thicker. But if you're concerned about the environmental impact, check out some of the recycled products on the market.