TidBits 024: Disposable goods existed long before consumerism

In the course of the days – or the months – that preceded the date of May 30, 1871, Edward Parrish of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, fathered a great idea.

But his great idea was not the exclusion of the pressure rolls from a normal machine for the production of printing paper.

Even though the result of this exclusion was something new: a paper that, once dried, was more impregnated with air, more porous and absorbent than the paper normally produced until then and very similar in grain to the Japanese paper made with the bark of the white mulberry tree. All things considered, that was not Edward Parrish’s great idea. No sir.

The extraordinary thing was – and here lies his great idea – that in his patent application, Mr. Parrish also mentioned the things that could be done and how many times they could be done with this paper, this slightly rough paper, absorbent and very similar to cloth. And so were born table cloths, table napkins, hand towels, examination room and operating room sheets, paper for personal hygienic uses and raw fabrics. All completely disposable.

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