Bidet sales are up in America! Editorial confession: We’ve been hoping to write something like that for a long time.
If you don’t know what a bidet is, it’s typically a small bathtub-like fixture situated next to the toilet, with taps on one end. Its tub is filled with water, and the user straddles themselves over it to wash below the belt. These days, you can buy an attachment to put on your toilet rather than a separate washbasin altogether.
What’s better about bidets?
So, why do we care about bidet sales? Well, as the coronavirus showed us, America is heavily reliant on toilet paper—and it’s incredibly wasteful. On average, Americans use nearly 28 pounds of TP per person annually, according to market research firm Statista.
We consume 9.2 billion pounds of the stuff each year. That’s about the weight of 30,000 blue whales! Although Americans make up just 4 percent of the world’s butts, we generate more toilet paper waste than any other country, and we are responsible for a whopping 20 percent of global tissue consumption, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Worse still, a lot of that toilet paper is sourced from old, previously untouched forests. Leading U.S. brands like Charmin and Angel Soft, for example, make their toilet paper in part from pulp that’s sourced from trees in Canada’s boreal forest, where more than 1 million acres are logged per year.
Then there’s the bidet. It requires no toilet paper or just a little to dry off, which can also be achieved with a hand towel. Bidets even rely on less water than it takes to produce toilet paper. Each bidet use requires just about one-eighth of a gallon. For comparison, it takes an estimated 37 gallons of water to make just one roll of toilet paper. Let’s say that’s a two-ply roll with 450 sheets. If you wanted to match the water savings of a bidet, you’d have to limit use to just about 1.5 sheets of toilet paper per bowel movement. Talk about unrealistic.
The bidet’s environmental footprint
Make no mistake: Bidets aren’t carbon neutral. The appliances may be made out of plastic or ceramic — materials that come with their own negative environmental impacts, though data on how much is limited. But because wiping with trees is so wasteful, experts insist bidets are the superior option for your posterior. Still, if bidets are so good, why don’t you see them anywhere in America?
While they are popular in Japan and Italy, bidets gained a reputation as a sinful item associated with contraception, masturbation, and promiscuous women. This association stuck for, quite literally, hundreds of years. During World War II, as Maria Teresa Hart reported in a 2018 piece for the Atlantic, American troops stationed in Europe associated bidets with sex work. “In the United States, bidets recalled all kinds of feminine failings: women’s sexuality, women’s unwanted pregnancies, and women’s biology,” Hart writes. “As such, they were shunned.”
But now, at a time where people are worried about hygiene, the environment, and their butts, it seems bidets are gaining traction in the US. Tushy, which retails its toilet attachment for $89, broke $1 million in sales on a single day in mid-March, and it saw its revenue jump 10 times what it was projected to be in March. Another bidet supplier, Brondell, said they’re selling a bidet every two minutes on Amazon.
Will you be the next bidet buyer?