Are toilet paper rolls shrinking? Should we raise a stink about it?

CLERMONT — Ever look at your bathroom toilet paper holder and say “Wow, that roll looks really little?”
At the risk of being accused of having too much time on my hands, I have done just that. 

Say it isn't so: a wide holder, and narrower paper on your toilet roll?

Rolls tend to be not only shorter than they used to be, but more narrow. It’s not my imagination. I have made note of sizes available at one popular local supermarket and various public institutions and have visited (among other sites)
One product there is described as being “one of only a few bathroom tissues that still has the original 4.5-inch x 4.25-inch sheet.”
The State of New Jersey, in a 1997 purchasing specifications document, stated that toilet paper sheets should be no less than 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches.
Luther Hanson’s job at the U.S. Quartermaster Museum in Virginia is to know about “stuff.” His title is museum specialist. He supplies the federal “Director of Procurement” standards for toilet paper from a document dating back to October 1937.
The Type I round rolls “shall be not less than 4 1/2 inches wide,” the document reads. “The paper shall be perforated at 5 inch intervals …”

The Type II sheet toilet paper is to be “interlocked in such a way that two sheets at a time will dispense …  sheets shall not be less than 4 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches.”  There is also an “oval roll,” but without any separate standards for sheet size.
So what’s out there now, and what’s needed “per use?”
In my informal survey of offerings, sheet width varied from 3.5 to 4.5 inches, sheet length varied from 4 inches to 5 inches, and the number of sheets per roll varied from 200 (a 3-ply variety) to 1,000 ( a 1-ply variety).

Mario Maltaise is chief operating officer for the Cellyne Manufacturing paper company in Haines City. They make toilet paper there, among other paper products. Most of Cellynne’s toilet paper ends up in public restrooms, where the wide sheets of the 1937 U.S. Director of Procurement (or, more recently, the State of New Jersey) are a thing of the past. In Cellynne’s line of toilet papers, the 3.5 inch width dominates, in 1-ply, 2-ply and a relatively cushy 1-ply variation known as double-layer.

Variety is the spice of life -- even when it comes to toilet paper rolls.

As Maltaise said in a recent interview, “The rules for the width, total length, distance between perforations, number of sheets per roll … varies
from company to company and depends on the market they are perusing … The (market) leaders are the ones that really dictate the offers to the different markets.

“The variation in all the sizes have different history in terms of timing, depending on the company that first gets the item out,” he added. “The others generally adjust to it. However, there are rules and norms to respect and companies have to adhere to them.  Actually, you can’t go under 3.5 inches (width) because the pressure dispensers would reject it.”
As for how many sheets are needed per use (or per day), the biggest hint is from that 1937 federal procurement standard: the generously-sized folded-sheet toilet paper had to be dispensed two sheets at a time, as in “light” jobs should not take more than two sheets. Kleenex seems to have made a similar determination when they designed their Hygienic Bath Tissue inter-fold system (not on rolls). Each of those sheets, according to the toiletpaperworld website, measures a generous 4.5 x 8.3 inches — the equivalent to roughly two of the largest standard sheets (sheets on a roll) or three of the smallest sheets.
So is there an advantage to the smaller sheets, beyond the potential advantage of actually using less paper?
The answer is a big, fat maybe.
Some years back, the federal government solicited comments on proposed changes to the 1994 revised standards on widths of public restroom stalls. The summary of comments reads, in part, that “people are becoming larger and the toilet paper dispensers are also becoming larger, and intruding into the 18-inch space.”
All things being equal, if the paper itself is narrower, and the jumbo roll dispenser it is put on can be narrower, it can be assumed there’s more room in the stall for the typical American’s ever-expanding rear ends.

Is there such a thing as an unhealthy workout? One Healthy Champ says yes.

ORLANDO – For a lot of folks these days, it’s a devoted daily ritual: heading to the gym to spend hours building up a sweat and burning off calories. There’s even a term for them: gym rats, or people who spent much of their leisure time working out in a gymnasium or health spa, devoting their energies to muscle building, strength training, cardiovascular exercising and aerobic activities.

But if it sounds like the ultimate in healthy living, there are skeptics like Luis Rodriguez Jr. who cautions that, as with most things in life, too much of any good thing can potentially backfire on you.

“You can work out too much,” Rodriguez cautions.

Rodriguez, a physical fitness coach and trainer, isn’t skeptical about physical fitness or a healthy workout at the gym. His Web site,, promotes exercise and nutrition and helps people find ways to become healthier, stronger and in the best shape they’ve ever been.

Still, Rodriguez has spent enough time training people – including so-called gym rats – to know that their energy level or degree of enthusiasm doesn’t always amount to an effective workout. All too often, Rodriguez said, he’s seen examples of people who think a good workout begins and ends with the amount of time they spend on a treadmill or execise bike, or maybe lifting weights, and don’t think about their body’s critical nutritional needs.

“Your level of activity and level of nutrition need to be matched up,” he said. Not everyone does that.

As Rodriguez noted, lengthy workouts mean people are burning off calories, allright – “between 800 and 2,000 calories if you’re talking about a three hour workout,” he said. “The average person already burns 1,200 calories as they’re sleeping, at a minimum.”

That may sound great to anyone who counts the calories on their food boxes, but what they often forget, Rodriguez noted, is that their body actually needs a certain amount of calories and fat to stay healthy and fit. That means giving your body all the nutritional needs it requires to keep up with the active pace of a gym rat workout schedule.

Otherwise, “Your body is not getting the calories it needs,” he said. “Eighty percent of fat loss and muscle building is nutrition. Nutrition is more important for exercise for fat burning goals and muscle building. If you’re not engaging in frequent meal eating and getting carbohydrates, fat or protein, you’re going to kill your metabolism.”

That’s true even for those who switch to a vegeterian diet in the hope of becoming healthier, Rodriguez said, adding that the body still needs some fat to keep working properly.

“If they do go vegan or switch over to becoming a vegetarian, they’re missing out on some of the amino acids their body needs to build tissue,” he said. “My body needs 2,800 to 3,000 calories a day. You can’t get that amount from vetegables alone. I could only get it from beans and soy, but what was happening was my metabolism was slowing down.” That makes it harder for the body to burn off fat.

Surprisingly, a lack of nutrition can also leave a gym rat feeling sick – the very opposite of what they probably expect a vigorous daily workout to produce.

“If you’re not getting enough nutrition, it could lead to dehydration, and leave you low in vitamins and minerals in your body,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of illnesses can come from a lack of vitamins and antioxydents in the body.”

At the same time, gym rats often assume that if they spend hours in their favorite gymnasium, they’re giving their body exactly what it needs, regardless of what they eat. But Rodriguez cautioned that “The duration is not as important as the intensity.”

There are three levels of intensity that people can engage in during their workout: high, moderate or low. More often than not, Rodriguez said, gym rats go for moderate intensity so they can stretch their workouts over several hours and not burn out too quickly.

“Some people go in and do moderate intensity all the time,” he said. “What they really want to do is a combination of high, moderate and low intensity during the week. Just doing moderate intensity doesn’t push you forward. Low and moderate intensity with good nutrition will get you good health goals, but they will not build the muscle tissue you need.

“Let’s say we start the week and we’re working your biceps, and we do a very heavy routine,” he said. “By Wednesday, maybe you want to do something with a medicine ball, that’s keeping your heart rate up. The next day, you do low intensity – yoga or any type of core exercises. Each muscle group needs to be treated by itself.”

Rodriguez said before gym rats get their membership and start scheduling themselves for two hours or more a day, they should sit down with a professional trainer to figure out what type of exercise routine works best for their body – and what kind of nutritional plan their system requires.

“Each person’s body is a little different,” he said. “The first thing you need to do is talk to one of the trainers at your gym, to design a specific program for you.”

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Sharks — the ones in the water, not the courtroom — deserve stronger protections, environmental group says

COCOA BEACH – It starts with that ominous music by John Williams, as the woman swimming across the waters off the Massachusetts coast never senses what’s zeroing in on her, ready to attack … a classic cinematic opening that helped “Jaws” terrify audiences around the world.

Souvenir shark toys can be cute, but Shark Savers insist these items should be face a boycott until sharks get better protections.

That movie and others portraying sharks as deadly to swimmers may be good box office entertainment, but they also promote some very bad stereotypes about sharks, says Hannah Medd-Rutzen, who thinks people – swimmers and boaters included – should switch their motto from “Sharks are Scary” to “Sharks Need Friends.”

“When you say the word ‘shark,’ people flip out, but obviously not all sharks are dangerous to people,” said Medd-Rutzen. “When you talk about sharks, it brings to mind this media craze,” and she cited “Jaws” and other sharks-that-kill movies as prime examples.

“It’s fueled by these movies where the shark is actively hunting people, which is incredibly false,” she said.

Medd-Rutzen is a marine biologist with Shark Savers, a group founded in 2007 with a simple mission: to protect sharks that, Medd-Rutzen insists, are in far greater danger from humans than they ever will be to the people they get portrayed as preying upon.

Hannah Medd-Rutzen is a marine biologist with Shark Savers, a group founded in 2007.

Shark Savers is focused on promoting education about what people can do to help sharks, and raising awareness of the positive benefits of having them in the ocean.

Medd-Rutzen noted that sharks act as an “apex predator,” or the lead actor in the story of any natural habitat. The apex predator governs the balance of all species below it by keeping other species of fish in check, and ensuring that certain species don’t grow uncontrollably. The loss of an apex predator, she said, could leave behind havoc in an ecosystem that used to depend on it.

“Sharks keep the oceans healthy, and we really do need the oceans healthy,” she said. “Unfortunately, lots of shark populations around the world are in serious trouble.”

This shark lives in a tank at a Cocoa Beach resort.

That’s because sharks have what hunters – and, as it turns out, consumers – are looking for. Sharks make up a good source of the meat for expensive restaurants in Asian countries, she added.

Finning, or selling sharks’ fins, is a $500 million black market industry, Medd-Rutzen noted.

“Shark fins are extremely expensive,” she said. “It’s another form of caviar. Why are we killing 100 million sharks a year? Basically for a bowl of soup. It’s basically a status system, to provide you with a bowl of Shark Fin Soup, which is mostly sold in Asia.”

Hunters don’t even have to be targeting sharks to hurt the species, she noted.

“Fishermen say, ‘I’ll get a swordfish permit,’ so they go out fishing and catch one swordfish – and 40 sharks,” she said. “Sharks take a long time to mature. If it takes you until (age) 14 to get pregnant, you may or may not be able to replace yourself in the population.”

Shark Savers is fighting back, armed with education as their main tool. They’ve launched a “Just Say No To Shark Fin Soup” campaign in China and other Asian nations, and Medd-Rutzen said there are ways that Floridians can help sharks as well.

“Don’t be a shark consumer,” she said, and that includes buying anything containing shark fins, meat, or teeth, including jewelry and other souvenirs.

“Speak up for sharks,” she noted, by, among other things, urging your state lawmakers to pass legislation that protects the species in state waters.

“Make smart seafood choices,” she said, and learn more by getting Shark Savers’ Seafood Watch Card. The organization’s web site is

“During the time it took me to speed through this presentation,” Medd-Rutzen said, “6,000 sharks were killed.” Her presentation lasted about 45 minutes.

And what about if swimmers find themselves in a “Jaws”-like situation — if you’re deep sea diving and come face to face with a shark? Medd-Rutzen said her best advice, interestingly enough, is to act casually.

“If you don’t want to be prey, don’t act like prey,” she said. “Keep eye contact, and remain calm and keep low on the reef – become a part of the reef. And just don’t look edible, basically.”

More importantly, she said, it’s better to try and confuse a shark than antagonize one.

“The advice they used to give was if they attack, hit them on the nose,” she said. “But think about it – if you miss, your hand goes straight into their mouth.”

A better option: blow bubbles in their direction. 

“If it’s in an area where they’re very used to divers, they may be used to bubbles,” she said. “But it’s worth trying, because blowing bubbles is not something they normally see.”

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