In the middle of a conversation about environmental health I often bring up the bidet (bid-aye). This is the toilet-bowl shaped contraption throughout Europe and other parts of the globe used to clean your bottom with a spray of water. If you are American however, chances are you’ve never seen let alone heard of one. Yet, when I describe its environmental advantages most people assume it wastes water, gleefully negating my statement. Well, it doesn’t waste water and is beneficial in more ways than one. Read on.
The Paper Factor
Toilet paper is a precious commodity but Americans seem to forge right through it using about 36.5 billion rolls per year (which is about 15 million trees). It is estimated that if every household were to purchase 100% recycled toilet paper America could save about 439,900 trees per year. Yet, many will argue that trees used for paper are planted and harvested much like you would a vegetable garden. However, there are still drawbacks such as soil erosion, habitat encroachment and fossil fuel use.
The Water Factor
As mentioned, many people unfamiliar with the overall specs of using a bidet assume it is a waste of water. There are also those that argue that it is a dual environmental disaster as users not only use water but also need to dry off somehow after bidet use. This requires using toilet paper and some are concerned about the additional waste. The truth is that according to statistics posted by Metaefficient’s Justin Thomas, 473,587,500,000 gallons of water are needed to produce paper annually while sucking up about 17.3 terawatts of electricity (one terawatt is an astronomical amount of energy). Technologies, a bidet manufacturing company adds that, “the amount of water used by a typical bidet is about 1/8 of a gallon, with the average toilet using about four gallons per flush.” On top of these stats, when drying off after a bidet many use a washcloth (it’s no different from stepping out of the shower) and those who choose toilet paper use a fraction of what would normally be used in a traditional situation.
More Bidet Pluses
There are a variety of other advantages this unique, historical contraption has to offer. More bidet pluses include:
- A Warm Bum – Many models offer a warm air drying feature decreasing the need for any alternative drying option. The electricity used to power air drying is minuscule compared to what is used in toilet paper manufacturing, packaging and transport.
- No Hands Control – “Hands-free” bathroom use limits the spread of bacteria.
- Better Health – Can reduce or prevent hemorrhoids and other skin conditions caused by irritating toilet paper. Bidet use may also stimulate elimination when constipated.
- Various Pricing – There are several bidet design options one can choose according to their budget. Whether a professional installation, do-it-yourself kit or simple toilet attachment (such as the Bidematic), finding what works is easy.
More steps to reduce our carbon footprint are always ahead of us. Many, such as the bidet, have been used for centuries making it a lot easier to embrace.