Besides learning how to occupy ourselves 24 hours a day alone, one of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic has been trying to find toilet paper.
For many Americans, not having access to toilet paper has been a completely foreign experience. Meanwhile, many of the world’s developed countries don’t even use it to begin with.
Being an American, born and raised, I too was completely stunned by the prospect of life without toilet paper and my dad came up with a plan — he would install a bidet. A bidet operates by spraying water to help clean you after going to the restroom.
This butt washing technology on my toilet would keep me from getting up at 5 a.m. to wait in line at Costco, only to be faced with an angry mob and empty shelves.
Turns out we weren’t the only ones that had thought of it.
Just two weeks into the pandemic bidets were back-ordered on every website and scalpers were having a field day. If you wanted to get one for 10 times the price, along with a $100 bottle of hand sanitizer, then it wouldn’t be a problem.
I ordered a mid-range bidet and, in the meantime, I continued along on the toilet paper hunt and managed to make do with other rougher options such as paper towels and tissues. In the process, I learned that some alternatives apparently don’t go down the pipes so well.
Fortunately, the device eventually arrived and worked mostly as promised.
The warm water setting is a little bit deceptive because you have to run hot water in your sink line in order for the water to actually arrive hot. Despite that, it does the job overall.
Truth be told, it is a little cold but with the recent arrival of warm spring weather I would actually use the word refreshing to describe the experience. It also serves as a nice bit of added white noise for your toilet going experience. The best part is that within a few months, it will have paid for itself because there is no doubt that your toilet paper usage will go way down once you own one.
We use so many natural resources to produce toilet paper that perhaps it is a good thing to rely on it less. While Americans shy away from the topic of how we conduct our private business, it is worth consideration, especially if you consider yourself a conservationist.
Another messy aspect of the taboo topic is effectiveness; as much as we hate to talk about it or admit it — toilet paper isn’t really all that great at doing the job. To fill in those gaps, Americans have come to embrace the wet wipe, which offers a seemingly inexpensive ‘quick fix’ solution to the problem.
According to a report in The Atlantic, these damp cloth wipes have grown into a $2.2 billion industry.
Unfortunately, wet wipes are partially composed of plastic fibers and have been the subject of lawsuits regarding the accuracy of the claims that they are indeed flushable.
In 2017 a 130 ton ‘fatberg’, the not so affectionate term used by sanitation companies for the combination of cooking fat combined with wet wipes, was discovered under London’s Whitechapel area and is said to be one of the largest on record, according to NPR. Environmental groups have condemned the products claiming that they add to the glut of garbage floating in the ocean and are a threat to marine life.
A San Gabriel Valley area plumber, Jeff Eisen, said stuff like dental floss and other materials are a hassle for plumbing.
“Nothing should go in the toilet except what comes out of your body and toilet paper. Period,” Eisen said.
So as gross as it may be to think about our bathroom business, not thinking about it has led to some far more disgusting and much more costly outcomes than simply installing something like a bidet.
The truth is, I do feel a little fancy sitting on my throne knowing that I have a built in feature available to cater to my most intimate needs. But, the best part is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that, god forbid, should the toilet paper problems continue I will at least manage to get by with some of my dignity intact and not get too chaffed along the way.