It had been just a month since I arrived in Doha, capital of Qatar, and to my surprise, we both had already finished 20 packs of facial tissue paper, each box containing 200 sheets 2 ply! Not that we have reduced the usage now, but I’m used to it now and have stopped calculating, but still I wonder if we would have used so many facial tissue papers back in India.
It’s fair enough to blow our noses with facial tissue paper, to wipe off our sweat in the scorching heat facial tissue paper comes in handy. All that is fine, but how come we end up using so many sheets every day? People back home may laugh at civilians here for using facial tissue paper for anything and everything -- to wipe off one tiny dust from computer screens, or steering wheels, or bedside tables, or for cleaning hands after a meal!
If I see the rate of our usage, I can calculate that on an average, each person uses a minimum of 10 sheets of tissue paper every day in Doha. So, around 1,000,000 people literally toss approximately 10,000,000 sheets in a day. 300,000,000 in a month! In a year? Sorry, I’m not too good in math. Wait a second, not just these papers, let me tell you how much money is also going down the drain with these facial tissue papers. Each of these facial tissue boxes costs anywhere between QR 4 and QR 10 (Please don’t convert each Qatari Riyal to Indian rupees as I usually do at every shopping mall and faint!).
But after seeing this, we don’t need any more figures to be assured that there’s a huge amount of paper that’s going waste, when all one needs is just one handkerchief, or a cloth napkin to get through days or even months. Hey, stop there for a moment, the only thing that requires is washing and how long will that take?
Here, visit any house, in every room you will find a tissue paper box. There has to be. People can live without water, but not without tissue paper here!
On the second day after arriving here, my hubby took me out for shopping and I was shocked to see one whole aisle space given to tissue paper boxes in that market. I saw most of them shopping tissue papers and we too had six boxes in our shopping trolley! When I asked if we need so many, my hubby smiled at me and said: “Here, we need tissue paper for anything and everything. They use them before dinner, after dinner, to wipe off dust or water from the windscreen or table, or to clean water glasses.”
He continued, “Don’t ask me why. It’s a habit that’s been thrust upon me the day I landed here and you will also be used to it very soon.”
Now, I was confused for a moment thinking what if this guy does not allow me to use cloth napkins in the kitchen -- to hold vessels and to wipe off any water drops after cleaning the dishes -- as I used to do back home and was quite comfortable with. It hardly takes two minutes to wash the cloth napkin after cooking and I can use it for months together!
On the other day when we went to a restaurant for dinner, I saw a box of facial tissue paper on every table. And how do they use them? Instead of probably taking out one, they pull out three to four to wipe off hands after dinner. The minute a customer enters the restaurant, he/she asks for tissue paper unlike India, where they ask for water! Why do most of the restaurants here prefer paper napkins instead of cloth ones? For hygiene? Maybe, or because of its obvious cost effectiveness. That’s fine, but what about homes? Is it a sign of status symbol? Seems like, if we take a closer look at the prices of some tissue paper boxes which cost more than QR 10. May be people here think using the perfumed tissues (QR 10 to QR 15) takes them one step higher than the ones using the regular paper. I wonder if these perfumed and bleached tissues which have chlorine in them add to the pollution thereby contributing towards global warming. And what about those boxes? Are they completely bio-degradable? My questions have no end and my hubby doesn’t stop smiling at me.
The tissue culture has been here for god knows from when. Can’t say if expatriates influenced the civilians to use them or vice versa! But the issue is hundreds of trees are felled to manufacture this harmless paper, which is silently but significantly contributing its part towards pollution and global warming.