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Going Green

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Imagine A World Without Toilet Paper

By James Donahue

Most Americans who travel overseas know all about the toilets that eliminate the need to use toilet paper. Some have expressed shock and surprise at the sudden spray of water and sometimes warm air that hits  them in the rump at about the time they would be reaching for the toilet paper.

The device, first used in Japan in about 1980, is now popular in homes throughout the industrial world. The United States may be among the last hold-outs, mostly because the price of these fancy toilets is costly (estimated at about $600 in U.S. currency). But even here they are starting to catch on.

As the world rushes to go green, Americans may find themselves more and more willing to have these special toilets with the tiny spray guns, called  bidets, installed in their homes. Using toilet paper is a drain on the environment. They say that making a single role of toilet paper uses 1.5 pounds of wood, 37 gallons of water and 1.3 kilowatt hours of electricity.

One quick power spray of water from a bidet has been found to invoke improved hygiene because it is cleaner and healthier. And best of all it saves a lot of water, wood and electric energy.

Even if you don’t like the idea of getting a shot of water to the rear after doing your business, you may not have a choice as the world supply of natural resources goes barren. Notice that the cost of paper products (including toilet paper) is climbing as the price of buying wood, manufacturing paper, and transporting rolls to your favorite store goes through the roof.

Our choices may be to take the shot of bidet water or wipe with our bare hand or a page from the local newspaper if you still subscribe. The old Sears catalogues, commonly used in the old privies, are hard to find nowadays.

While the Japanese first popularized the bidet, the very name is French because the device was invented by a French furniture maker in about 1710. The name in French means “pony” which describes the way users first had to sit on the device to use it at that time. They straddled it while the water cleaned everything in those private regions of the body.

The first bidets for the modern bathroom were introduced around 1900, and the electronic bidet was introduced in about 1960. This was a device that either connected to a conventional toilet or was installed as a separate unit in the bathroom. Buyers continue to have the same choice today.

While they look similar to the toilet, bidets have been found to be excellent devices for cleaning not only the genitalia, anus and inner buttocks, they may also be used to clean other body parts like the feet. Designed like a small bathtub, some mothers use them to wash their babies.

There are variations in the types of bidets that are available. Some are gently heated so the water spray is warm, followed by a drying warmth. Less costly ones simply blast your rear with a quick spray of cold water. People say it is such a brief blast they hardly notice it.

Some people say they still prefer a quick wipe with toilet paper to dry off after getting sprayed. But even when this is the case, studies show that people who use bidets consume 75 percent less toilet paper.

And this is probably everything you ever might want to know about bidets and the art of cleaning up after a daily bowel movement.