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Cotton Softens Landing

Since toilet paper is something that truly touches us all, CBS This Morning Consumer Correspondent Herb Weisbaum wants you to know about a recent innovation in that area.

Herb's report was brought to CBS This Morning from a Seattle supermarket — from the bathroom products aisle, of course. In the first major change in bathroom tissue in the last 100 years, a Seattle company has come up with a way to take the paper out of toilet paper. The result is a product called Purely Cotton.

It looks like toilet paper, but there's not one shred of wood fiber in this product. Purely Cotton is the first toilet tissue made from 100 percent cotton.

Because cotton is naturally soft, there's no need to treat it with chemicals the way you do wood fiber. Purely Cotton promises to pamper you where you need it most, and all for just few extra pennies a roll.

Purely Cotton is the creation of Tom and Willy Patterson-Brown, Scottish brothers, who now live in Seattle. Herb caught up with these two inventors at the corporate headquarters of Linters, Inc.

So where would you put your company if you made bathroom products? If you're Tim and Willy, you choose a building located at the corner of First and John.

"It's an enjoyable business," says Willy Patterson-Brown. Fun, yes, but Tim and Willy are men are on a mission: to convince American consumers it's time to change their bathroom habits.

Herb was impressed by their convincing sales pitch. "Well, if you think about it," says Willy, "for your entire life you've been using a tissue product that's made from wood. We make ours from [cotton]. What would you rather use on your personal hygiene?"

Good question, but if you make a better toilet tissue, will people buy it? First, you've got to get them to try it, which is why Willy spends a lot of time dressed up in his kilt and passing out coupons. "In test markets, the response has been positive," says Tim Patterson-Brown. "and we've found that the repeat purchase figures have been extremely high. People have come back and bought it again and again, because they've been satisfied with the performance of the product."

Can people really tell the different between Purely Cotton and toilet paper? To find out, I got all of my neighbors to give it a try.

This was a blind tush test. They didn't know what they were using, just that it was something different. While no one wanted to rush to the store to buy some, the reviews were generally positive.

The Patterson-Brown brothers feel confident they have a hit on their hands, so they're going ahead with a national rollout. The plan is to have Purely Cotton in stores all across the country by the middle of next year.

And these guys are not limiting themselves to cotton toilet tissue. They already have otton facial tissues, and in the future they hope to make everything from disposable diapers to feminine hygiene products out of cotton.

Purely Cotton is safe to flush down the toilet, it's biodegradable and safe for the septic tank. It is made from USA cotton, what actually might be considered "scrap" cotton. Purely Cotton uses the short fibers left after the long fibers are harvested to make textiles.

The Patterson-Brown brothers have taken their share of ribbing over the whole business. "We think we've heard them all," says Willy. "People say, 'You're gonna flush away the competition,' and 'What's the bottom line to the business?' And, ah, we enjoy it."

Reported by Herb Weisbaum