Bidet or Toilet Paper? Oh Shit!

On this rainy Saturday morning I had an inspiration while sitting on the toilet. Today I wanted to blog about bidets, toilet paper, trees, and green choices. So here we are. Or, there I was. On my bidet, thinking….

Now there was a whole range of things I needed to do today–vacuuming, cleaning up the kitchen, cleaning up my workshop, sharpening drill bits out in the shop, etc.–but this morning I had rather write on this I decided as I set there contemplating. Maybe I’ll get to some of the others this afternoon, I rationalized. Such is the life of an old hermit sometimes.

This saga all started several weeks ago I came across an article in Mother Earth News I’m thinking, on toilet paper and bidets. (I tried to relocate it, but couldn’t find it.) Although Chinese invented toilet paper back in the 1600’s, modern toilet roll paper didn’t come on the scene until the late 1800’s, and then it was marketed as a luxury item. Up until that time, Sear and Roebuck catalogues and corn cobs were very popular.

Well known in European countries, bidets as an alternative are pretty rare or understood here in the good old USA–until the toilet paper crises this year as the result of panic buying and the COVID-19 pandemic. Now even Fox News (Ugh) did a blurb on them. With more of a spotlight on them now, a green question is which is better environmentally, toilet paper or bidets? Well, this is not quite so straightforward to answer as it turns out.

For the uninitiated, bidets shoot a stream of water that washes the old heinie or tushie, thus reducing the need for toilet paper. Of course, one question still remains, you are sitting there now with a wet, but clean (er), tushie, do you drip dry, air dry, or what? (I told you this was complicated.) One potential solution begets another problem to be solved. I’ll come back to my solution at the end of this blog. Await with bated breath, please.

Here is my bidet attachment on my toilet. (I told you this was personal.)

The good news is that bidet attachments are inexpensive. This one was about $27 from Amazon.

So, I’m trying it out. Won’t go into any details. It’ll certainly wake you up on the morning that’s for sure. It ejects unheated tap water up to the critical area. I’m a little skeptical about this winter when the water coming out of the tap gets pretty chilly. Not sure I’ll be able to handle it.

Now, this bidet version is straightforward to install. Just don’t over tighten the plastic fixtures that come with the kit. The water supply attaches to your toilet water line. Yor can adjust the angle of the water stream a little, but not much on this model. You can also control the force of the water jetting out. Believe me, you will only want to use the low adjustment levels. The thing can be painful if turned up too high. Not to mention, could almost propel you off the seat. Cheap thrills.

So which is ecologically better. Overall, the bidet. Every time you use toilet paper, think about all those trees that were cut down to make it. As it turns out, toilet paper from new wood uses by products like sawdust and chips from the milling/cutting of the wood. Better, is to use toilet paper made from recycled paper. This saves trees! I personally prefer Seventh Generation, which is available here locally.

As it turns out, it takes more water to make toilet paper than a bidet uses, according to an article cited in treehuggers.com. So water is an important factor, especially given the decreasing abundance of clean water. If you live in an arid or desert area, then maybe a bidet is not the best way to go. Environmentally, you are better off using recycle toilet paper if water is in short supply.

So, now we are back to our wet tushie ending. What does one do with a wet tussle setting there on the john? One solution is to have a tushie towel or dry washrag and use that. I use a little tp, then pat dry with the washcloth if needed, but, then, that is just me.

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