The math is in! We studied the most Efficient paper cleaning product. For decades I’ve been frustrated every time I had to clean up a spill, wash down a counter-top, or got food on my face.
Should I be using a napkin to wipe my face? A paper towel? Did I just waste money?
Should I be toughing it out and using toilet paper for everything?
Designing Test Methods + The Math
There were three areas we wanted to investigate:
Meters Of Material Per Dollar
Water Absorption Per Dollar
Strength Per Dollar
Meters Of Material Per Dollar
Objective math. Multiply Square Meters Per Package by number of ply and divide by the cost.
Seems simple enough until you spend 2 hours recording notes of various toilet papers while Walmart employees keep a close eye on you.
Water Absorption Per Dollar
Shout out to Christopher B. and Jacob R. for the measurement method, I think I saw this on TV Commercial.
Fill bowl with water Set on scale, tare to 0g Put paper product in water, lift and wait for drips to stop Record weight delta
I used the microwave popcorn method, 4 seconds without a drip = stop dripping.
Strength Per Dollar
We clamped one end of the paper product to a piece of wood, and let the other end hang. We then attached clamps to the other side. Each clamp weighed 160g. Once it teared, we used the quantity of clips it successfully held as our metric.
This is attribute data because we only could test integers of weights.
Paper Products don’t seem to spend the effort to brand themselves much. There were multiple types of generic, for instance- paper towels labeled “Paper Towel”.
During the test phases, we bought 17 popular products for testing, for science! (I feel like these studies could be the subject of Portal 3)
Highlighted denotes top 3 of one of the categories.
Material Per Dollar
1 ply items seem to win this category. But… if you ever used 1 ply toilet paper- You will understand why we decided we needed to continue to test.
By pure length alone, here are the top products:
Water Absorbed Per Dollar
Now this was interesting, 1 ply toilet paper topped the list if you are trying to absorb on the cheap. Although I’d probably recommend a towel for water spills.
Low cost paper towels and napkins are an honorable mention.
Strength Per Dollar
Since these are based on attribute data(0,1,2,3 clips) the data should be used more like a Yes/No. Consider that anything above 30,000 is strong ‘enough’.
The weirdest thing was that Great Value Premium napkins held a 2.5lb weight. Nothing else could claim that accomplishment.
Based on the Grams of Water Absorbed/ Dollar and strength, we will be cleaning up our disposable messes with Brawny. Honorable mentions to Great Value Quilted Napkins, Great Value 2 Ply Paper Towels, and Bounty Select Prints.
Major water spills can be cleaned with towels, but if you are cleaning up a gallon spill of milk, 1 ply toilet paper is the most cost efficient.
Facial tissue was consistently the most expensive.
During a strength test, we tried adding water to the center of a paper towel and it didnt affect strength significantly. As soon as the water hit the clamp, they would often rip.
Wadding up 3 sheets of single ply did not increase strength. Mass of water absorbed was negligibly similar.
Misses Efficiency got super excited for the Frozen Printed Paper Towel. She has never seen Frozen, but she wanted to use that type first. Marketing is a real thing.
The volume of hundreds of paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper occupying our home is- Not Negligible 😛
We have gotten feedback to test specific products, but I know I’m missing your favorites. I wanted to only email when I have a high quality article but I’ll be occasionally sending a “Request For Feedback” email about future topics. Goal is to get the data you are looking for. I’ll label it in the subject so you know its not an Efficiency Is Everything article.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and lets bring on the New Year!
Before, I laughed off the concept of New Years Resolutions. Today, I have a different stance.
We use Metrics and Goals in engineering to hit milestones, price targets, quality standards, and anything that we want tracked. Instead of calling them New Years Resolutions, we’ll call them Targets.
Here are a few things to make Targets better than a ‘workout more’ New Year’s Resolution:
Choose goals that are- Specific, Measurable, and Achievable.
Good Example- Run 1 Mile under 6 minutes.
Bad Example- Run more and faster.
Good Example- Read 25 minutes a day
Declare your Metrics- How will you measure your progress? Decide if you can use tally marks or need to write down dates/times/weights. See if you can track with numbers.
Be Visual- I personally like physical calendars with a sharpie nearby. Check off dates you were successful or write down the metrics. Put it somewhere you look every day.
Use Human Biology Against Yourself
There are fallacies that cause humans to invest further into decisions. There are many psychological tricks out there, here are some easy ones:
Draw your own diagrams instead of printing- The time it takes to draw your own tracking system is sunk cost. Now you must do your goal, you already put time into it.
Monetary Sunk Cost – Pay 1$ and I’ll motivate and keep tabs on your Targets. Now that you spent money on your goal, it would be a waste if you don’t achieve.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew- Its easier to have 1 large goal and a few easy goals. Failure in one often causes others to drop off. If bodyweight is something you want to work on, focus on diet as the large goal with much easier and more forgiving workout goals.
My artwork- X Calendar
If you did the target for the day, mark an X on the calendar. If you miss a day, circle the date. Once you get a streak going, you wont want to stop. I’ve done comical things to keep the chain going.
Not New Years Resolutions- Targets
These goals are being tracked – “What gets measured gets managed”.
Pick a system as complex or simple as needed. I’ve used scrap paper and excel charts. Add numbers or attributes(True/False) and track your Targets.
This year you aren’t some trendy New Years Resolutioner, today you can achieve your goal.
Efficiency Is Everything 2017
We definitely grew last year and as a result, we got quite a few Efficiency studies by request. I’m only one Engineer, and the community has found things I’d never have expected. I’m really excited to tease these topics:
Nutrition Per Minute – Looking at how long it takes to get protein, calories, and vitamins based on different methods of obtaining food. I think cooking eggs + breakfast sausage is faster than going to McDonalds. Thats a hypothesis, we are going to find out the most and last efficient ways to get food.
Time Studies – We had a minor time study on doing dishes. We will be looking at the time it takes to hang dry clothes vs machine dry + put away. I’m thinking of doing a detailed kitchen time study if there is interest.
Nutrition Per Dollar- This is our biggest undertaking, and we’ve had to hire employees to get this done. We are mapping out an entire grocery store and this time, its not just Calories Per Dollar. We will be looking at different nutritional aspects as well.
Not mentioned, Efficient Party Throwing, Efficient Student Loan payments, Efficient Investing vs Debt, Paper Towel/Napkins/Toilet Paper Per Dollar, and if we can figure out a responsible way- Efficient Childcare.
These are topics I’ve had requested, if you have an area in life you want Efficient, email me at MichaelKirk@EfficiencyIsEverything.com
Updates And Personal Life
Going forward, I’ll be releasing 1 major study and 1 minor article a month. I’ve had requests to include new information on the Calorie per dollar, caffeine per dollar, and alcohol per dollar list. I’ll throw those in occasionally.
I’ve accepted a job at GM. I love engineering and I couldn’t stay away for long. My boss says the word Efficiency almost daily and I get excited every time. My wife is now a Doctor of Physical Therapy and we are soon to be home owners. Wonder what kind of Efficiency is ahead for us…
We are testing out new high calorie per dollar and quick nutrition per minute recipes. My very picky wife questions it every time, but likes it enough to bring as leftovers the next day. Expect some efficient recipes coming your way.
My 2017 Goals
2 Hours at the library after work everyday. Metric for tracking- I track how I used my library time in 25 minute increments in Excel.
Daily Workout- Minimum walk 1 mile after work. I’ll always end up working out or running that mile, but no excuses. Drawing a X Calendar for daily tracking.
Eat Vegetarian once a week- Beans and Lentils are really good Protein per dollar. I’m always looking to find more efficient ways to eat, finding good recipes are the hard part. Tracking with a checkmark for the week on the refrigerator.
Draw/Draft 5 minutes a day- Trying to get better at communicating via picture, easy X Calendar goal that will likely consume more than 5 minutes a day
Your turn. Pick at least one life Target you want to change and throw some numbers on it. Its not a NY Resolution, its your goal.
I’m 25 years old, I have 2 engineering degrees including a masters, my wife has a doctorate.
We just got back from a multi-week Trip to Italy.
We have no student loans.
I don’t have a Full-Time Job and I think I’m going to enjoy a few months not working.
Living it up
Sure Engineering Jobs pay well, but have you seen the cost of a masters degree? Or a Doctorate? We paid for both.
A good job
A relentless approach to apply Engineering Efficiency to Life.
The first two are up to you, the last – I collected and analyzed the data, you get the tips.
We used the Pareto Principle to look at our biggest expenses. Food stood out immediately.
After calculating the Calories Per Dollar of the foods we ate, I found the biggest inefficiency was eating fast food or at restaurants. Go to some generic chain microwaved food restaurant, get chicken fingers and fries – 10 dollars. Get a drink and leave a tip, that’s 15 dollars a person.
For 1 meal.
Microwaved Chicken Fingers.
If you ate that all year, you could expect to spend 12,000 dollars on food per person.
We now eat for close to 1,000 dollars a year. Not chicken fingers, but rather Fajitas, Alfredo, and Thai Fried Rice.
Sometimes We Cave
But what about Sushi? What about going out with friends?
We do both. Enjoying the company of friends at a restaurant is not the same as eating for Calories. Indulging in Sushi is one of my personal pleasures. These are experiences.
98% of meals, we eat delicious food made at home. 2% are favorite restaurants or getting drinks with friends. That’s not just calories, that’s an experience.
Get Protein From: Lentils, Beans, Chicken, Milk, Eggs, Ground Beef in that order. We mostly make Chicken dishes.
For Calories: Bread, Rice, Noodles. Make sure this isnt some processed Instant Rice box, it’s 7x cheaper to cook your own.
Stay away from canned anything, super expensive. Fresh or Frozen is much better value.
Premade frozen or refrigerated meals are 2-8x more expensive than making yourself.
When desperate- The 5 Dollar Pizza from Little Caesars gives you 420 Calories Per Dollar and 20g Protein Per Dollar. It’s still 2x cheaper to eat at home.
Bonus: Make delicious meals in bulk, and learn the skill of the microwave. 99 seconds is the perfect point to stir/check. Plus its the max time you get with 2 buttons.
Challenge For You:
When you get to the grocery store, think about slightly modifying one recipe with a suggestion from above. And if you are going to try Lentils, put a Fast Food amount of olive oil and salt on it. Indulge on your first day of Efficiency.
That saves us thousands of dollars per person a year, a half million dollars in our lifetime.
You Should Review Your Health Insurance
You should look at your health insurance. Seriously. I find most families spend over 300,000 dollars in their lifetime because they got screwed into an expensive plan. Insurance companies go out of their way to make the language hard to understand. I’ve found most of the time, if you cut off your arm and get cancer in the same year, you would be better off getting the lowest cost plan.
Look for words like: Max Out Of Pocket or Max Deductible and Premium or Cost Per Paycheck. Everything else serves little purpose other than to confuse.
Deeply consider low cost plans
Factor in how long it takes for you to make up the cost of the deductible with savings from a low cost premium.
Keep an emergency savings
Even if it takes hours to figure it out, you will save thousands of dollars a year. If it takes you 3 hours, it would be the equivalent of getting paid ~1,600$/hour.
Online Shopping – The Magical Black Hole
That automatic potato peeler is going to change your life. I mean, imagine not having to peel potatoes but having mashed potatoes on command. Its only $15 right?
Or that Wrist Watch. Pristine, crisp look, and a decent value for what you are getting.
A non-engineering tip I have for my frequent Amazon sweet tooth.
Find the perfect Tea Infuser, a Starwars Lego set, or neat Kitchen Gadget
Add to wish list
Wait until November
Go through list and decide what you still want
Get it for Christmas.
I specifically drink a lot of tequila, go through the list with Mandy, and when Christmas day comes, every present is a surprise.
I’m taking time off work to study Life Efficiency so you can apply it to your own life. Coming this Fall, the official release of Efficiency Is Everything – In Life . Weekly blog posts on every Wednesday so you can get more efficient every week of your life.
If you are too excited to wait, get Efficiency FREE right now by subscribing:
Your First Efficient Recipe – See how we eat for 1,000 dollars a year. 2 minutes to make. (700 Calorie Per Dollar, 44g Protein Per Dollar).
Fun Per Dollar App– Using an equation I developed, you can find your best and worst Personalized Fun Per Dollar.
Sections From Efficiency Is Everything In Life – Process Flow Diagram for a 6 Minute Morning Routine and Reducing Complexity To Get Extra Time. Engineering concepts, taken, and applied to the home easily.
This is my blog about how I apply engineering principles to my life.
I’ll be using statistics, data, and Lean Engineering to make decisions like:
‘Is it more effective to use paper towel, tissue, or toilet paper?’
‘what is my most cost efficient source of caffeine?’
You will find ways to slice time off chores by analyzing non-value added tasks. Its why automotive assembly lines can mass produce cars inexpensively. I study that, and apply it to my daily life – now you will too!
Think of two situations you waste time daily:
Walking back and forth between the closet and bathroom getting ready in the morning.
Jumping around the kitchen grabbing different ingredients, equipment, and gear.
Sure this only takes 5-10 seconds, but over the course of your lifetime, walking back and forth twice a day will take you more than 12,000 minutes over your lifetime. That
is a lot of TV you could be watching(I watch my TV shows at 1.3 times speed, meaning I save 18 minutes on a 1 hour long show).
Applying engineering methodology to food, health insurance, and our finances, I’m looking at the ability to retire by the age of 30.
Me and my wife have found shortcuts on everything from sleep, to food, to doing our hair.
Get New Tips To Tune Up Your Life Free
If you have any interests that you want me to comment on or feedback, leave a comment, drop me a note at the contact page, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org