According to sociologist Harvey Molotoch, author of Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing, we got off on the wrong foot with bidets and just never recovered. He says we owe our overall aversion to bidets to our country’s forefathers: The British associated bidets with French prostitutes, and consequently thumbed their noses at their use. Over time, it became a habit to wipe instead of wash after using the bathroom, and it never went away.
Saving the Trees
According to a recent article from Fortune Magazine, the U.S. consumes more toilet paper than any other country, almost three rolls per person each week. (they must not be double rolls) And the lush brands households choose to use aren’t sustainable, with hardwood trees being pulped to create the soft toilet paper consumers want.
Following the United States’ annual use of 141 rolls of toilet paper per capita is Germany with 134 rolls and the United Kingdom with 127. Japanese consumers average 91 rolls annually, while the Chinese average just 49.
I originally thought toilet paper came from scrap wood chips and saw dust, but according to the website ToiletTravels.com, trees are cut down for their virgin pulp. While recycled material would be better, the recycling process of separating and cleaning paper is not very efficient.
To those who say that bidets waste water, advocates counter that the amount is trivial compared to how much water we use to produce toilet paper in the first place.
According to Proctor and Gamble, the leading toilet paper manufacturer, 100% of its wood fiber comes from responsibly managed forests, certified by third parties such as the Forest Stewardship Council.
“Virgin fiber in tissue products is preferred by consumers, and ‘does the job’ much more efficiently.” – P & G
“By using virgin fiber from responsibly managed forests, [P & G] products are more absorbent, so consumers can do more with less waste. Paper products made from recycled materials are less soft, less absorbent and lack the strength that products manufactured from virgin fibers can provide.”
Recycled toilet paper and less plush paper is used more often in commercial settings with consumers preferring to buy softer toilet paper for the home. So, it stands to reason, reduction of virgin or multi-ply toilet paper consumption in the home is possible.
One of the reasons a traditional bidet has not caught on in America is because you have to remove you pants to straddle it. Another reason is the extra space required to install it.
While there’s a lot of hype behind the electric bidet seats (which I’ll discuss later), one of the simplest solutions a homeowner can use is to install a handheld spray near or on their existing toilet.
These sprays, unlike the electronic bidet seats do not require homeowners to hire electricians to bring power into the water closet.
Health Benefits of a Bidet
According to doctors, using a bidet is definitely preferable to toilet paper – at least for women. Bidets can be beneficial for lady parts by helping to reduce the spread of bacteria (a principal source of urinary tract infections), cut down on irritation that can be caused by wiping too much, and keep you fresh before and after sex. Read about more health benefits (think hemorrhoids) here.
According to David Kaufman, M.D., a urologist in New York City, we can’t really do away with toilet paper entirely. – a bidet wash alone isn’t enough to do the real dirty work of cleaning with toilet paper.
Most do people use a small amount of paper instead of a washcloth to dry their posteriors after the bidet has done its job; but, more expensive air-drying models dispense with the need for paper altogether.
In recent years the advent of the intelligent toilet with a built-in bidet wash arm and fan dryer means using the loo can be a hands-free event. This is great considering a report that says only 5% of Americans wash their hands long enough to kill harmful bacteria.
“According to the CDC only 31 percent of men and 65 percent of women wash their hands after using the bathroom.”
Hands-free bidets are also a great option for people who might have mobility issues due to an accident, surgery, arthritis, MS, Parkinson’s or aging. Older homeowners who are often cold also tend to prefer a bidet seat that has a seat warmer, heated water and temperature options for the dryer.
If you don’t have to use your hands to use the toilet there’s less chance of passing or coming in contact with bacteria and viruses.
Don’t worry, not all toilet bidet options cost $4,000 or $7,000. A new company called Tushy (click for $5 off) offers a toilet seat conversion that starts at only $69!
Not all seat models are compatible with skirted toilets or riser seats so check the specifications carefully or consult with a bathroom specialist for help.