Toilet-Paper Liberation

In these TP-troubled times, a device more worthy of consideration than ever is the bidet, which has long been used in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere but has only relatively recently caught on in the USA.

Bidets (or bidet attachments designed to fit on your existing toilet) can be expensive to buy and install, though they do come at various prices. My favorite option, and one that I’ve been using for awhile now (as have many of my green-minded friends) is the bidet bottle. This is, simply, a plastic squirt bottle that you use like a bidet. It can be any kind of squirt bottle; I find that a short squat mustard bottle is a handy size and shape. I even take the bottle with me on trips.

Not being dependent on toilet paper is great from an eco standpoint of course (some appalling number of trees are felled each year just to wipe North American bums). Also, many of us feel cleaner with a bidet. And now, with the coronavirus panic sparking a weird reaction of mass toilet-paper stockpiling (I keep trying to tell people it’s a respiratory virus, not intestinal!), not needing to be worried about t/p becomes even more appealing.

After using the bidet or bidet bottle, many people like to pat dry, which can be done either with a square of toilet paper (way less than you’d need if you were trying to use t/p to do the whole job!) or with a square of cloth. The “toilet cloth” (also known as “family cloth”) can then be laundered like any other household laundry. My favorite source of toilet cloth is old cotton t-shirts or terrycloth towels, which I cut up into squares.

(Not quite ready to give up TP? Try Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. It’s made of bamboo, recycled paper, and other “forest-friendly” materials. Or ReelPaper, made of bamboo — just now found out about them.)

I first learned of the bidet bottle via my fellow greenies in the Journey to Zero Waste group on Facebook (an absolutely stellar resource for reducing trash or other waste in any possible area of life). But as I did further research, I learned that a bidet bottle (or pitcher, or other container) is de rigeur in Muslim cultures, and is known in at least some countries as a Lota. Other cultures are so often a storehouse of riches for best practices in everyday life.

Further Reading:

Islamic Toilet Etiquette (muslimgirl.com)

Secrets of the Muslim Bathroom (Salon): “Instead of fearing the lota, we as a society should tolerate and embrace the diversity of booty-cleansing techniques that are now available to us. Americans eventually accepted hummus and Bollywood music. Could the lota could be next? Regardless, it’s time to put an end to the self-loathing and fear and let the lota proudly step out of the water closet.

Reddit thread: How to use a bidet bottle/Lota: “Lean forward. With right hand, take lota (which you filled) and bring it to your back and lean it forward to get a flow going. You want a good flow, not Niagara Falls. While the water is hitting your buttocks, use your left hand to rub the water around there (nothing too aggressive just feel it out like you would in the shower). Repeat if necessary. Dry if you want, some people do, some people don’t. Wash your hands with soap. That’s basically it.”

“Issue With Tissue” Sustainability Scorecard Flunks Charmin and Other Toilet Paper Brands
NRDC/Stand.earth Report Exposes the “Tree-to-Toilet Pipeline” Destroying Canada’s Boreal Forest.

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