25 Jul, 2015 | Kinjo Kiema
Don’t Flush That TP
When I first arrived in Bolivia, I constantly forgot that I wasn’t supposed to flush toilet paper down the loo, like at home. At first, I thought it might just be a cultural norm, but when I looked into why you have to throw after you go, I found out it’s for a different reason.
I talked to Enrique Torrezo, an employee of Bolivia’s Ministry of Environment and Water, about why toilet paper just isn’t flushable.
‘We have information that toilet paper that is manufactured here isn’t of the quality of that manufactured in other places,’ said Torrezo, ‘like in the United States, where the paper is designed so there aren’t any problems.’
Toilet paper in countries where flushing it down is the norm is designed to break down once it is flushed, so it won’t cause clogs. However, most of the toilet paper used here – particularly the brands that are cheapest – are made of more fibrous material that won’t disintegrate fully once down the drain.
Blockages from toilet paper are actually uncommon here. In public places such as restaurants, hotels and schools, people tend to heed warnings not to flush toilet paper after completing their business. Real problems arise, Torrezo says, when people flush worse things down the drain, like sanitary pads and diapers.
Fortunately, the city of La Paz has installed cameras in the plumbing system to spot clogs and to direct some lucky workers to go clean out the mess.