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What difference has 12 months made?

It’s been almost a year since I wrote my blog post ‘AI content writers: Threat or ally?

In the post, I trialled Google’s top ranking AI writer to find out what a bot might be capable of. I wanted to know whether it would help or harm content writers like me. And whether it could actually write like a human.

If you want to see how it did, you can read the original post here.

SPOILER ALERT: it was pretty terrible!

As technology is evolving at an alarming rate, this is an experiment I always planned to revisit, so here I am, a year later, doing it all over again.

Am I nuts?

Probably. But let’s see what happens.

Choosing an AI writer

In the last experiment, I tried out AI Writer. At the time, this was the highest organic-ranking AI content writer on Google — and it still is. So no change there. But this time I’ve decided to try a couple of different ones.

Why?

Well, on first inspection, a year doesn’t seem to have changed AI Writer too much. It’s still asking for a subject and promising an article with sources in two minutes.

This didn’t bode well last time and it seems unlikely that’s changed.

This time, I’ll be trying two of the best rated AI writers for 2021, as recommended by MyWPLife.

This is the number one ranking article on Google and covers 10 of the best AI writers available.

We’ll be starting with Writesonic, then moving on to Copysmith. I chose these two AI writers because they both offer something different — and they both came with a free trial*.

Writesonic is a writer that actually writes articles. Copysmith is more of a guide that gives you an outline to work from.

*It’s worth noting that some AI writers on the list didn’t seem to offer free trials or guarantees. I don’t understand how anyone would sign up for something like this without seeing what it could do first — but maybe that’s just me.

The project

In the last experiment, I asked AI Writer to rewrite my last three blog articles, which it did — badly.

For this experiment, I tested the AI with another copywriting brief I undertook recently. This time, a piece of content with the title ‘How to choose more sustainable toilet paper’. I thought this might be an easier task that would give better results.

My human response to the brief

The article I wrote was 1673 words and had the following title and heading structure:

Title: How to choose more sustainable toilet paper
  • The world’s most expensive toilet paper
  • Not all countries use toilet paper
  • The environmental impact of toilet paper
  • Choose plastic-free toilet paper
  • What is plastic-free toilet paper?
  • Choose recycled toilet paper
  • How is recycled toilet paper made?
  • How to choose recycled toilet paper
  • Look for FSC labelling
  • What if there’s no labelling?
  • Choose unbleached toilet paper
  • Processed Chlorine-Free (PCF)
  • Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF)
  • Elemental Chlorine-Free (EFC)
  • Choose bamboo toilet paper
  • How is bamboo toilet paper made?
  • Does bamboo toilet paper break down?
  • Is bamboo toilet paper better?
  • Ready to buy more sustainable toilet paper?

The AI writers’ response to the brief

So how did the AI writers respond to the brief and did they do a better job than me?

Let’s see…

Writesonic

I decided to try out Writesonic’s AI writer and see how it handled my brief. But that didn’t go quite to plan. It seems you can only specify a subject for your article and not the whole title.

Choosing your subject

I typed in ‘toilet paper’ and got this list of nine suggested articles it could write for me:

  1. The Best Toilet Paper for Your Home: Which One Should You Buy?
  2. Why You Should Be Using Charmin Toilet Paper: Your Guide to a Cleaner, Fresher Home
  3. What’s the Best Toilet Paper?
  4. Best Toilet Paper: Which Is The Most Durable, Affordable?
  5. 5 Tips for Finding the Best Toilet Paper: Picking Your Favorite Brand
  6. How To Buy Toilet Paper: The Best Toilet Papers for Your Needs
  7. 12 Ways To Use Toilet Paper That You Didn’t Know About
  8. Toilet Paper: The Best Toilet Paper Brands For Every Budget
  9. Why Toilet Paper is Great for the Environment, and What You Can Do to Help

I was fascinated by number 2. Who knew toilet paper could make your whole home cleaner and fresher?!

And I was intrigued by number 7. What uses could it have — other than than the obvious?

But to make this a fair experiment, I had to follow the environmental angle and go for number 9 — even if the title is weird, nonsensical and factually incorrect!

Writing the introduction

Having chosen the title ‘Why Toilet Paper is Great for the Environment, and What You Can Do to Help’, I was asked to write an article intro of between 100–150 words.

Here’s what I wrote, which follows the process I went through with my own article:

Most UK consumers don’t know that their toilet paper is made from virgin wood pulp, which means trees are cut down to make it. How can we choose toilet paper that’s more sustainable and kinder to the environment? In this article, we’ll discuss the environmental impact of toilet paper and explain why choosing more sustainable toilet paper matters. We’ll show you how alternative options such as recycled and bamboo toilet papers help make a difference. And we’ll explain what to look for on the packet, including what the FSC accreditations mean and how to avoid papers that have been bleached in manufacturing.

Before you say anything, I know this isn’t my best work — and it isn’t meant to be. After all, this is supposed to be for people who can’t write. What the intro does is outline my thought process for the article I wrote and give as many cues as possible.

Generating outlines for the article

From the intro I wrote, Writesonic developed five different outlines for me to choose from.

Outline 1

  • Section 1: Understanding the environmental impacts of toilet paper
  • Section 2: Sustainable options for your bathroom
  • Section 3: What to look for on a toilet paper packet
  • Section 4: Conclusion

Outline 2

  • Section 1: The Environmental Impact of Toilet Paper
  • Section 2: Sustainable Options for Toilet Paper
  • Section 3: What to look out for on the packet
  • Section 4: Conclusion

Outline 3

  • Section 1: The Environmental Impact of Toilet Paper
  • Section 2: Choosing Sustainable Toilet Paper
  • Section 3: What to Look for on the Packet
  • Section 4: Conclusion

Outline 4

  • Section 1: Toilet Paper Is Made Of Trees
  • Section 2: Why Sustainability Matters
  • Section 3: What’s The Problem With Manufacturing?
  • Section 4: Alternative Options For Sustainable Living
  • Section 5: How To Help The Environment With Your Toilet Paper Choices
  • Subsection 5.1: Choose Papers That Are Free In Bleaching Process- Easy!
  • Subsection 5.2: Choose Papers That Are Free From Artificial Softeners- They Don’t Help!
  • Section 6: Conclusion

Outline 5

  • Section 1: Why toilet paper matters
  • Section 2: The environmental impact of toilet paper
  • Section 3: What to look for on the packet
  • Section 4: What are you waiting for?
  • Section 5: Conclusion

Choosing an outline

This was a no-brainer for me and I obviously chose Outline 4. This is the most fleshed out article of the five and even has subheadings.

Writing the article

Next, Writesonic writes the article for you. This is reasonably quick, taking around 30 seconds per section.

And I know you’re just dying to read it, so here it is — exactly as it came out:

Why Toilet Paper is Great for the Environment, and What You Can Do to Help

Most UK consumers don’t know that their toilet paper is made from virgin wood pulp, which means trees are cut down to make it. How can we choose toilet paper that’s more sustainable and kinder to the environment? In this article, we’ll discuss the environmental impact of toilet paper and explain why choosing more sustainable toilet paper matters. We’ll show you how alternative options such as recycled and bamboo toilet papers help make a difference. And we’ll explain what to look for on the packet, including what the FSC accreditations mean and how to avoid papers that have been bleached in manufacturing.

Toilet Paper Is Made Of Trees

Most of us are aware that toilet paper is a type of paper product, so why does it matter whether we choose the more sustainable ones? Using a disposable newspaper or a tissue or tissues instead of a wipe is a waste of resources. These tissues, which come into contact with your hands and face every day, often include bleached pulp. This means that the paper ends up in a landfill, or worse, burning in an incinerator or generating heat-trapping emissions in our homes. Paper towels are a very similar product, but their paper is virgin wood pulp, and they are thus completely biodegradable. Most UK consumers don’t know that their toilet paper is made from virgin wood pulp, which means trees are cut down to make it.

Why Sustainability Matters

Sustainable products can have a positive effect on the environment and human health. They can also make your money go further because you’re buying more-efficient products. Of course, buying environmentally-friendly toilet paper doesn’t make you automatically do the right thing with your other purchases. It’s just one of many things you can do to help the environment. And, when buying new toilet paper, you’ll often find that many eco-friendly brands will be more expensive than traditional brands, and more packaging is used. So, if you’re short on budget or just want to go green, think about the price and how much you can pay for what you buy. Reducing the amount of toilet paper you use is another way to help the environment and improve your health.

What’s The Problem With Manufacturing?

The problem with toilet paper is that it’s made from trees. In fact, all modern toilet paper has to be made from virgin wood pulp. Wood pulp is produced by mixing wood fibers with lignin in the form of glue, which is then heated and dried. The resulting sheets are used to make paper. Each sheet is made from the fibres that make up two-thirds of the tree and the glue that binds them together. The toilet paper we use might be pretty — and might even have cute cartoon characters on the packaging, but this is just paper and cardboard with a fresh lick of paint. Some recycled paper, but still paper. The major problem with paper is that it’s made from trees. In 2016, this waste sector was responsible for 7.4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This is the same amount produced by 3.

Alternative Options For Sustainable Living

How does toilet paper get made? We all have a certain number of tissues to clean ourselves, and what we need is the right type for the job. There are three main kinds of fibre used in making toilet paper: cotton, wood pulp and the remaining fibres from other materials that can’t be recycled into toilet rolls. Wood pulp is made from wood waste. Cotton and paper are man-made. Cotton is produced from seeds or by trimming the plants. Paper is made from recycled paper and a kind of starch, both from corn. The three major types of toilet paper that you can buy are cotton, bamboo and recycled paper. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages: Cotton This type of toilet paper uses cotton fibre for its padding, and is often marketed as ‘recycled’ as it is made from recycled waste paper.

How To Help The Environment With Your Toilet Paper Choices

The Tree Nature paper labels are a good place to start if you want to find a more sustainable toilet paper. The two ‘best’ products are the ‘best of Britain’ toilet paper, and the ‘greenest toilet paper’, both of which are made from 100% organic cotton. They are also made in the UK, and as a result of these two simple measures, their carbon footprint is around 11.5 and 6.6 tonnes respectively. These choices will give your toilet paper a good carbon footprint, in contrast to some other toilet papers, which have a bigger carbon footprint than their main ingredients. The sustainable toilet paper manufacturers are following guidance issued by the UK government and, for instance, avoiding the production of pulp products with bleached pulp.

Choose Papers That Are Free In Bleaching Process- Easy!

Making a plastic toilet paper roll is incredibly energy-intensive: all the chemicals, water and energy used in the bleaching process are an added cost to the manufacturer. The paper itself is also not free of bleaching chemicals: some brands are sold by the kilogram, while others are made in bulk and sold by the ton. Fortunately, there are two ways to make eco-friendly toilet paper at home. The first way is to ask your local supermarket to stop selling bleached toilet paper. Alternatively, you can buy environmentally friendly toilet paper and find out which brands are free of bleaching agents in the manufacturing process.

Choose Papers That Are Free From Artificial Softeners- They Don’t Help!

The water-repellent natural paper is one of the main reasons why we love it, but it’s also made from wood pulp. Both are natural products, and to get the softness you want from these natural products, they often contain chemicals to make them smoother and softer. These chemicals are called softeners. Fortunately, the most popular natural toilet paper contains no softeners and is often made from virgin cellulose. So, if you want softness, but also want to minimise the damage you’re causing to forests, then you’re best looking for this kind of toilet paper. Look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) papers- they don’t use softeners and are often made from renewable sources.

Conclusion

Choosing a more sustainable toilet paper makes a big difference, but you should still be able to buy a product that’s fairtrade, with low- or zero-tarifs, or better for the environment. However, there’s nothing more important than choosing toilet paper that is good for your health too. So why not try something more traditional and embrace the joys of a good old fashioned bar of green soap.

Sources: http://www.mercosmeticsuk.com/green-bath-soaps-apr2015/ http://www.ultras-int.com/health-and-beauty/soaps-and-hair-creams/soap-choices/seal-tear-soap-scrubs-chinese-green-scrubs/chinese-green-scrubs/ https://www.ecosystems.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/eop.1233/full http://www.entrepreneur.

My evaluation

What the actual…?! 😧

Where do I even start with this?

At 1,129 words, it’s a respectable length. But this is the only positive thing I have to say.

It scored 58.6 on the Flesch Reading Ease test, which is fairly difficult to read. And it had multiple issues including too much passive voice and too many long sentences of more than 20 words.

It makes no sense

The whole article is nonsense, from the title to the conclusion. Here are some choice excerpts:

Why Toilet Paper is Great for the Environment, and What You Can Do to Help

If toilet paper was great for the environment, we wouldn’t need this article!

“Using a disposable newspaper or a tissue or tissues instead of a wipe is a waste of resources.”

Err… what?!

The toilet paper we use might be pretty — and might even have cute cartoon characters on the packaging, but this is just paper and cardboard with a fresh lick of paint.”

I thought we were going to get to a point here, but I was mistaken!

So why not try something more traditional and embrace the joys of a good old fashioned bar of green soap.”

This is the conclusion! Where does green soap come into it?!

It waffles — a lot

One of the golden rules of content writing is not to waffle. You should trim off the fat and make every sentence count. Writesonic seems to have missed this memo.

“Of course, buying environmentally-friendly toilet paper doesn’t make you automatically do the right thing with your other purchases. It’s just one of many things you can do to help the environment.”

A masterclass in how to bulk up your word count!

“We all have a certain number of tissues to clean ourselves, and what we need is the right type for the job.”

Again… what?!

It’s repetitive

“Most UK consumers don’t know that their toilet paper is made from virgin wood pulp, which means trees are cut down to make it.” ~ Start of intro

“Most UK consumers don’t know that their toilet paper is made from virgin wood pulp, which means trees are cut down to make it.” ~ End of first AI paragraph

“Toilet Paper Is Made Of Trees” ~ Section 1 heading

“The problem with toilet paper is that it’s made from trees.” ~ Section 3 body

“The major problem with paper is that it’s made from trees.” ~ Section 3 body

It’s factually incorrect

“…all modern toilet paper has to be made from virgin wood pulp.”

This isn’t true and the whole purpose of the article is to show it doesn’t have to be!

“…many eco-friendly brands will be more expensive than traditional brands, and more packaging is used.”

It’s not true that eco-friendly brands use more packaging — or that they’re more expensive.

The thinking isn’t joined up

These tissues, which come into contact with your hands and face every day, often include bleached pulp. This means that the paper ends up in a landfill, or worse, burning in an incinerator or generating heat-trapping emissions in our homes.”

The first sentence gives absolutely no meaning to the second. And the second sentence is… surreal!

The three major types of toilet paper that you can buy are cotton, bamboo and recycled paper. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages: Cotton This type of toilet paper uses cotton fibre for its padding, and is often marketed as ‘recycled’ as it is made from recycled waste paper.”

It sets up to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the three different types of toilet paper, starting with cotton, which it then wrongly describes as recycled. Then it gives up on that completely and moves on to the next paragraph!

It’s just not good content

This is badly researched, badly written and not optimised for search engines at all.

You can’t use it as it is and no amount of editing will make it better. It doesn’t even have the bones of a decent article for a writer to flesh out.

So what’s the point of it? And why are people paying for it?

Well, I’m still at a loss with that one.

So let’s move on…

Copysmith

Copysmith uses a different approach. Rather than typing in a title, pressing a button and — hey presto — getting an article, you get an article outline that you can use to write the article yourself.

Here’s a lowdown on the process.

Your title and description

With this AI writer, you start by giving your post a title and a description of what it’s about.

I went with:

TITLE:
How to choose more sustainable toilet paper

DESCRIPTION:
We all have a duty to be more environmentally sustainable, so how can we choose toilet paper that’s better for the environment?

Getting the article outlines

When you input your title and description, you get a list of 12 article outlines with headings. And you can generate more of these by clicking a button.

The idea is that you choose the article outline that’s most relevant to what you’re looking for, then use it as template to write the article yourself.

Let’s have a look at the top three article outlines I was given.

Outline 1

Section 1: Check your toilet paper packaging

Section 2: Check your toilet paper roll

Section 3: Check your toilet paper brand

Takeaway: This guide will give you the information you need to choose more sustainable toilet paper. By checking for recycled content and SFI certification, you can make a positive difference.

Section 1: What is tea tree oil and why is it so important?

Section 2: The benefits of tea tree oil for acne and other skin conditions.

It’s quite basic, but not a bad start.

I covered some of these in my own article.

No idea where I asked about tea tree oil though — that’s a complete mystery!

Outline 2

Section 1: How to choose the most sustainable toilet paper

Section 2: How to pick the right type of toilet paper

Section 3: What’s in your toilet paper?

Section 4: Using less toilet paper

Takeaway: Choosing sustainable toilet paper is easy and can help reduce your impact. This guide will explain how to do it and why it’s important.

On this one, the first two headings are too similar.

I covered these themes in my article — with the exception of using less toilet paper, which I felt didn’t really answer the brief.

The ordering of the four headings seems odd. If you want to change people’s behaviour, explaining what’s in their toilet paper (and why that makes it bad for the environment) would be better as an introduction.

Outline 3

Section 1: The pros and cons of recycled toilet paper

Section 2: Learn how to properly dispose of your used toilet paper

Section 3: Look for toilet paper with less packaging

Section 4: Choose a brand with a good environmental message

Section 5: Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste

Takeaway: There are lots of options when it comes to choosing toilet paper, but it can be difficult to gauge which option is best for the environment. This guide will help you make an informed decision.

You may have noticed a pattern here. Outline 1 has three sections, Outline 2 had four — and this one has five. But it’s not actually a pattern and Outline 4 doesn’t have six. The rest of the outlines have a mixture of three, four and five sections.

Section 2 seems to be an introduction to composting toilets, which may not be an option for most people.

And section 3 would seem to refer to buying in bulk, which is repeated in section 5.

In my own article, I looked at choosing paper packaging rather than plastic.

Would I recommend Copysmith?

From my experience of the trial, no.

The article outlines don’t provide enough substance for a detailed article that answers all the questions.

In fact, I’m confident that any human content writer — and even some non-content writers — could come up with a better and more thorough article outline than these.

But aren’t the headings useful?

When I first saw all the headings, I thought maybe picking and choosing a selection from each outline would help to inspire an article — and I guess it might. But as the article outlines were all covering the same subject, a lot of the headings were very similar to each other.

Some didn’t seem too relevant to the brief. Like these, for example:

  • Sustainable options for your bathroom
  • Sustainability in other areas of your life
  • Compost your waste or recycle it, but don’t throw it away.

And some were completely bizarre, like these:

  • Making your own toilet paper from scratch
  • Gourmet toilet paper: Advice from toilet paper experts.

Making your own toilet paper sounds above and beyond what most people would be prepared to do.

And I hope this is the first and only time I’ll see the word ‘gourmet’ used to talk about toilet roll!

Should we be concerned?

Content writers are constantly being told we need to fear AI and that it’s going to take over our jobs.

But based on this experiment, I don’t think we have anything to worry about just yet!

About the author

I’m Jenny Lucas, a freelance content writer and copywriter based in Leicester, UK.

If you need interesting, helpful and engaging content for your business blog, you’ll find all the information you need on the Content Writing page of my website.