I recently visited my daughter and son-in-law. This was my first visit in their “together” home since they have married. Now, I am a born and raised Texas girl. My son-in-law is a Saudi transplant. Many of our differences seem obvious. All have been easy to accept. It’s no big deal being a human being in our family. We embrace uniqueness. We relish in all that is different. We find it to be the spice of life. That being said, I do have to admit to a difference that created an embarrassing situation during my visit.
After a forty-five minute drive, a cup of coffee and bottle of water, it’s no big surprise that I needed to use the bathroom as soon as I arrived. As I finished my business, I reached, quite naturally, for where the toilet paper roll would be hanging. There was nothing there. I am not too proud that I can’t shout out and ask for someone to please bring me some toilet paper, which I did.
My daughter, who has fully embraced her husband’s culture, responded to my call. She informed me that they do not use toilet paper. What? Yes. That’s right. They don’t use toilet paper. They had converted their standard Texas flusher to a flusher/bidet combo. I simply had not depressed the proper lever to complete my hygiene experience.
After a few moments of bumbling around I discovered which lever was the flusher and which was the spouter. My shriek of surprise announced to the newlyweds that I had indeed figured out the contraption. My son-in-law apologized profusely. I believe he was embarrassed. I was not but I do have a few more miles on my sense of pride than he has. I assured him there was no need for apologies, that I thoroughly enjoyed the new experience. Indeed, it was the most interesting and pleasant bathroom experience I believe I’ve ever had in my life. And then, true to my curious nature, I began to ask myself questions.
Where cleaning the bum with toilet paper or a blast of water is concerned, is one really better than the other? Is one “greener” than the other? Is one more hygienic than the other?
Well, concerning the environment, one uses the precious resource of trees and one the precious resource of water. That makes them Even-Steven as far as I’m concerned regarding whether one is greener than the other. But, is my opinion in agreement with the experts? Point in toilet paper’s favor, it can be manufactured from recycled paper. By replacing one non-recycled paper bathroom tissue roll with a recycled paper one, over 400,000 trees can be saved. Of course, the bidet would then, logically, save millions of trees because no paper at all would be used, unless you dry your freshly rinsed backside with some toilet paper. For bidets to win the “green” argument you have to then dry your bum with a towel or sit and stay awhile until it air dries. So, what about the water use of a bidet? Although they use lots of water, it’s still considerably less than the water usage of a paper mill. So, in the end, if you’re willing to dry your behind with a towel or washcloth, the bidet wins the environmental competition against the toilet paper contender.
As for the hygiene issue, there are definite health benefits to using a bidet. For one thing, it does get a body cleaner. Also, if a person has any skin conditions such as a rash or the dreaded hemorrhoid, it is most definitely a gentler experience and kinder on the skin. Also, if a woman does not use toilet paper properly, she increases her risk for infection in one of her most delicate areas. I believe it is then safe to say that the bidet wins this point also.
After I mulled all of this over, I just couldn’t help myself. I picked up the phone, called my son-in-law and asked him for the name and number of his plumber. I should be down to my last roll of toilet paper right around the time he’s scheduled to install my new bidet.