The latest object of eco-bathroom obsession is not for women only
I have a very personal confession to make: I’m in love with my bidet. It started in early October when, on a whim, I ordered one from Amazon. Since then, my love has grown stronger with each and every day. It may not be a subject I bring up at dinner parties or while I’m on the phone with my mother, but it’s something I think about every morning. And sometimes in the afternoon if I had a big lunch.
Let’s face it. Talking about toilet hygiene isn’t generally considered appropriate. That doesn’t mean it’s not a topic worthy of discussion, though. Bidets are a seriously green improvement that could benefit everyone. If bidets were as prevalent in the U.S. as they are in Asia and Europe, we could be saving many forests worth of trees with the amount of toilet paper we’d save.
For those not familiar with bathroom technology, a bidet is a device that uses a stream of water for cleaning one’s, er, sensitive areas. They can be found as separate fixture next to a toilet or, as is more popular these days, as attachments to an existing toilet. The most elaborate attachments from high-end brands like Kohler and Toto cost upwards of $5,000 and feature remote controls, custom water temperature memory settings and heated seats.
While the rise of e-mail has cut down on paper consumption considerably, the digital age has done little for our bathroom habits.
After several trips to Asia, where bidets are much more readily available and accepted, I decided that I wanted to try one in my own home. My bidet is nowhere near as fancy as the high-end versions, but I don’t mind at all. It cost me roughly $40 and fits under my existing toilet seat. I installed it in just over 10 minutes and while I’m sure the luxury versions are superb, mine does the job just fine, thank you very much. While I appreciate the level of cleanliness it gives me, I was more fascinated to see just how little toilet paper I was using as opposed to my pre-bidet days.
When you think about it, the fact that we use toilet paper at all is atrocious from an environmental standpoint. I’m reminded of the Sylvester Stallone/Sandra Bullock/Wesley Snipes classic film Demolition Man, where a police officer is cryogenically frozen and thawed in the year 2032 to discover that toilet paper has been replaced completely with a system known as “the three seashells.” Sounds a lot like buttons for a bidet to me, and I’d like to think this version of the future isn’t so far off.
Our paper usage is extremely wasteful. While the rise of e-mail has cut down on paper consumption considerably, the digital age has done little for our bathroom habits. In some reports, people use close to 40 pounds of toilet paper every year and with the developing world seeing more advances in hygiene, those numbers could easily climb. That’s the major reason why I hope to see bidets get more attention.
We may not have a toilet paper-free society by 2032, as the movie predicted, but if we can start focusing on alternative bathroom technologies like bidets in the future, the world will be a better place. I’m just happy to say that I’m doing my part, and I’m loving every second of it.
Jason Kessler is a lifestyle writer/columnist for Bon Appetit, Food Republic and a slew of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @.