Bidet or Bust

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Santiva Chronicle publishes opinion pieces on a variety of timely topics. They may be submitted by contacting us. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the Santiva Chronicle.

Dear Sanibel Community,

Amidst what will someday be known as “The Toilet Paper Panic of 2020,” a great many disconcerting questions come to mind. The first and most obvious: “Why in the world are people stocking up on toilet paper?!” Let’s be honest with each other—this is absolutely illogical. Of all the so-called necessities out there, toilet paper must rank pretty close to the bottom (pun intended). Maybe consumer goods corporations seized the COVID-19 outbreak as a chance to spin some convincing advertising for their products (very likely!), or maybe we all just consider toilet paper a staple comfort, a “necessity” that we turn to as a community during trying times (strange, but also likely!).

But what keeps me up at night is actually my second question, and the catalyst of this article: “Why do any of us use toilet paper at all?” Yes, you read that correctly, but you’d better read it again just to be sure. If your immediate response was a scoff followed by muttering something about “millennial hippies”…well, I’m proud to say “Nice to meet you!” and encourage you to keep reading.

Put yourself on any section of our gorgeous 13 miles of uninterrupted sand beaches here on Sanibel. You and your family are all set up with your beach chairs and one darn good-lookin’ picnic. Some kids nearby are (illegally!) feeding the gulls, so you walk over and kindly educate them on the myriad problems associated with feeding wildlife. They only pretend to listen, but at least refrain from continuing, so you begin to walk back. But as luck would have it, a gull (now supersaturated with French fries thanks to those kids) flies over and defecates directly on your forearm. “Son of a biscuit!” you scream. Assessing the situation, you confirm that there is indeed a sizable amount of fecal matter all over your arm, and your brain flicks through the obvious solutions for fixing this. These would likely include:

1. Running to the water’s edge, where you scrub your arm with seawater and sand for a solid couple of minutes until satisfied that you’re clean. You will undoubtedly sniff your arm a few times to gauge the level of cleanliness.
2. Running back to your residence (if nearby), where you will scrub your arm with soap and water until, as noted above, the area successfully passes the sniff test.

There are probably other strange alternatives that some of you would have come up with, but let me point out what you would not do in this situation. You would not run back to your picnic area, grab a handful of dry napkins, and begin furiously smearing and wiping the fecal matter around on your arm. And just so I cover all the bases here, if you DID in fact do that, you would quickly regret your decision.

So what have we learned here? Ah, yes—when there is fecal matter on our bodies, the best solution is to wash that part of our body, not endlessly spread it around with paper. This really begs the question: why are we using paper to clean the one part of our body that will consistently (100% guaranteed) have fecal matter on it, each and every day? We could simply wash our bums with soap and water! Instead (are you ready for this?), we go through the elaborate process of growing trees, debarking them, mixing the resulting chips with chemicals to make a pulp, processing that pulp through about ten more steps to make toilet paper, driving to the supermarket to buy some, bringing it home, furiously wiping our delicate parts with it, throwing it into the toilet, and finally sending it into the deep recesses of some wastewater treatment facility. That is a very long, complicated, and wasteful chain of events just to bring all of us a product that doesn’t actually work that well.

Oh, did I forget to mention that somewhere along the way the paper is dyed white? Try to come up with a logical reason for why it needs to be white; I dare you.

Since everyone loves a good solution and a happy ending, I’m going to give you one. Buy yourself a bidet! This is pronounced “buh-day,” and I want to reassure you that there is nothing we need to be afraid of here. It’s just a basin that emits warm water for us to wash ourselves with. Most people use an attachment-style bidet that connects directly to the toilet, so no need to worry if you don’t have the ability to install a separate unit. Half the world uses these, and I can vouch from personal experience that those people smell better than we do.

There’s no reason to be hesitant about the concept of washing your more intimate parts with soap and water in the privacy of your own bathroom; the concept should hopefully not be that foreign to you. [awkward silence] Take a moment to ponder all of this. Embrace the absurdity of wiping yourself incessantly with tree bark, and think about how sensible (and enjoyable) it might be to actually treat yourself to a thorough cleaning “down there”! You’ve got to agree with me, it does sound like the logical way to get the job done. And guess what? You’ll never again have to face the daunting, apocalyptic scenario of running out of toilet paper!

I’ll close with a quick message to the Wet Wipers Anonymous Club. You know who you are. And I’m betting you’re ready to propose “wet wipes” as a happy-medium solution to all of this. But I need to respectfully shut that idea down. It’s important you recognize that most wet wipes contain plastics and do not break down, which means they clog wastewater systems and are also a significant contributor to ocean pollution. Though I can agree with you that they are soft and convenient, they are also one of the planet’s worst nightmares. Luckily, there’s an alternative. If you want comfort, convenience, and—above all—luxuriously clean nether regions…purchase a bidet!

The following opinion article was written by Justin Proctor: loving husband, resident of Sanibel, and longtime advocate for bringing some measure of sanity back into the world.

Comments (1)

  1. Mark A Thompson

    Great. Thats what I wonder about our society too. Why are we valuing toilet paper so much when we should not even use it. I lived overseas for 4 years and in my country there no-one used toilet paper – it was a taboo to do it. You quickly realize how bad TP actually is for you and the environment.

    Also why do we use 1-5 gallons of water whenever we pee. We do need to change our damaging ways.

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