“The only thing we have to fear is… fear of the rear itself.” Bidets are back…

‘When Did you and the Bidet First Meet?‘ According to the majority of dictionaries a Bidet is still described as, ‘A small, low bath in which a person washes the lower part of their body.’ That’s exactly how I remember seeing a ‘bidet’ for the first time in a relative’s bathroom. I didn’t have a dictionary to hand, there was no, ‘Okay Google…’ so I figured it was time to introduce myself. With the bathroom door firmly locked I checked out the white stand-alone low-level oval porcelain tub with taps. Positioned between the bath tub and the toilet, why would I even think about shuffling from the WC (with my trousers around my ankles) to go wash my bum? I guessed it was for washing my feet and I did. I ended up using 3 rolls of toilet paper to mop up the shower of water I’d sent cascading across the floor and took five attempts to flush the soggy evidence down the toilet. Departing none the wiser, until my second acquaintance on a trip to France by which time I’d figured it out and finally, in Japan, I got to feel the real deal. The question that struck me most, prior to trying out a bidet was, ‘Why having grown up with toilet paper would I want one?’ But the new bidets are easy to install, hygienic and above all they’re changing peoples perspectives.

Why Bidets Got a Bum Rap. Way before my first encounter, America a big potential market for bidets, had failed to adopt them (the low-level sit and wash version) because they got a bum rap. Many Americans associated the stand-alone bidet with sex-workers, having seen them being used in European brothels during World War II. The question of space and additional plumbing for bidet fixtures in, ‘the smallest room‘ didn’t help its cause either, added to which the use of toilet paper was gathering pace. Travelling even further back in time, long before the Romans sat in their rows of toilets with a ‘sponge on a stick‘ to mop up after themselves, the world was already awash with ‘washers.’ The options for the finishing touches included; stones, leaves, grass, corn cobs, animal furs, sticks, snow, bits of porcelain, seashells or simply your hand.

Toilet Paper is ‘On a Roll.’ The Chinese are credited with inventing the new alternative, toilet paper, as far back as 1391 and by the late fifteenth century it was widely available throughout China. Fast forward to 1596 and, rather like computers, the invention of the modern WC/Toilet provided the hardware for a wider audience. The software sales (toilet paper) took a further 260 years to take off when eventually in 1857, Joseph Gayetty of New York, marketed a modern commercially available toilet paper, ‘Medicated Paper, for the Water-Closet.‘ The first perforated toilet paper rolls were finally introduced in 1890 and by 1930 toilet paper was widely manufactured and ‘splinter free.’ Since then toilet paper has gone ‘on a roll‘ (pun intended) for wipers worldwide as being, ‘The go to, when you go do!‘. The appearance of toilets in every home coupled with improvements to the softness and strength of toilet paper and its extensive sales and marketing went on to influence a social change, and social conditioning in countries like the US and UK (still two of the leading wiper countries.) With bidets (in their original format) failing to take off and get deep enough into the human psyche, the momentum was lost and led to a generation of toilet owners (in the USA, UK, much of Europe and many East Asian countries) becoming keen wipers and subsequently dedicated toilet paper users. Until now that is…

Douche and Dab’ or Wipe. It’s a long time since bidets first appeared in France back in the late 17th century, and although the first flushable toilet was invented in England (1596) WCs/Toilets didn’t gain popularity until 1851. It took approx. 100 years longer to establish themselves in the modern world. In 1980, the first ‘paperless toilet‘ was launched in Japan by manufacturer Toto. Since the 1980s technology, design and functionality have gone on to transform the product, the experience and the accessibility of both toilets and bidets. In regards to ‘wash vs wipe,’ billions of ‘washers‘ around the world had their cleaning experience happily established for ages. In many parts of the world [e.g. South East Asia, The Middle East, India and some European countries] washing has always been the preference over wiping. Their culture is a flip on the way ‘wiping society‘ thinks with our reliance on toilet tissue. For the residents of many nations, washing with either bowls, ‘bum guns’ (washing wands) and/or bidets are ‘the main event,’ the toilet paper is the ‘(back) side show,’ or even a complete no show. In trying to persuade people, it’s far easier to ‘upgrade’ a habitual and established washing method, rather than change the habits of a lifetime, i.e. get them to exchange ‘douche and dab,’ for the waterless wipes with toilet paper. Quite understandably when you put it like that.

Team Wipe vs Team Wash. This has meant that for some while ‘Team Wipe‘ have been sitting on their backsides (so to speak) focussing on how they could upgrade their own experience with things like softer or more eco-friendly tissue options. Meanwhile, manufacturers and designers for ‘Team Wash‘ have been coming up with a range of smart new inventions and health benefits to enhance their offering. You’ll no doubt be familiar with toilets with built in bidets, and functions such as; wash, dry, self-clean, funky lighting, music, automatic seat open and close, health checks and a whole lot more. But hey, I hear you! 😉 ‘That’s all very well but it’s not so easy to make the switch if your current set up is a standard toilet, plus toilet roll holder(s)… and there’s a great range of toilet rolls to choose from these days.’ Okay, let’s get to the bottom of all this.

Changing Your Perspective. The recent panic buying and fear of running out of toilet tissue has been a timely opportunity to grab the wiping world’s attention with alternatives to just using toilet paper. For the toilet paper consumer as it were, trying to sell something to ‘attach to a toilet and wash your butt,’ is no easy task. There have been various attachable bidet patents and inventions dating back to the late 1800s, the most recent appears to be from 2010. Having said that, only in the past few years have ‘attachable bidets‘ begun to get spotted by the ‘wiping community.’ The outbreak of coronavirus led to toilet paper ‘shortages,’ and then the closure of many public toilets left people with another dilemma, ‘how to go on the go.‘ Media attention turned from toilet paper to bidets as a solution with more and more headlines and greater press coverage (yep, there’s even a travel version in case you’re caught short outside). Once the public had embraced the possibilities of a bidet and were loving the buzz of other ‘new’ peripheral toilet temptations (Aesop Post-Poo Drops or Poo-Pourri as examples) the whole bathroom experience began to inspire a new audience, a wider following and a big fan base. Perspective has changed.

The Generation Game Changer. That game-changer (life-changer) for ‘the wipers’ has a lot to do with the coming of age of ‘attachable bidets‘ and for many Millennials and Generation Z they make total sense. With no history, nor necessarily any memory of ye olde off-putting bidets, ‘The Attachables‘ are grabbing their attention, and this generation are technologically immersed, care about planet earth and constantly discussing the endless list of environmental issues. Another advantage, if you rent your home, is that this is an inexpensive way to get a bidet installed, and take it with you anywhere you go. In exploring the world of attachable bidets there are some brilliantly designed alternatives out there, with all sorts of functions for all sorts of people. However, making a bidet appealing enough to promote change isn’t just about what it does, ‘it’s about what it does for you.‘ That vital part of the persuasive process takes a brilliant marketeer [Miki Agrawal] and an innovative new approach [TUSHY.]

Reasons to be Cheerful not Fearful. One of the other reasons for the attachable bidets new resurgence and success is its simplicity, in 10 minutes you can easily convert your current toilet into a bidet and… it looks good too. Costs vary but a ‘classic‘ starts at around $89 (approx. 60-100 rolls in toilet paper money;)) making it very affordable. That’s quite tempting vs the considerably greater expense of having to buy and fit a completely new smart toilet/bidet with wash, dry and other multi-functionality built in. But fear not toilet paper fans, bidets do not necessarily equate to ‘no toilet paper whatsoever’ because with bidet attachments you’ll still need to dry up afterwards. The preferred methods being toilet paper (biodegradable) or bum towels (ideally bamboo in both cases.) After all, whatever age, you’ll still have your toilet rolls (or bum-towels) close to hand. You decide how much toilet paper you use and/or how often you get to use the bidet – so sit back, relax, and… ‘ease your way into your new bidet.

Hello TUSHY. Let’s get back to ‘TUSHY.’ Founded by Canadian born New Yorker Miki Agrawal back in 2015. Miki, CEO Jason Ojalvo and their team have been making a big splash by changing consumer perceptions (and misconceptions) about using a bidet, or ‘making a clean start‘ so to speak. Miki, whose parents are Indian and Japanese (so she knows about bidets and the washing ways) is a disruptive innovator whose marketing approach mixes, ‘hygiene + humour, entertainment + environment‘ which confronts and cuts through traditional taboos and bravely challenges the status quo. ‘TUSHY‘ have jumped the obstacles and put attachable bidets ‘front of mind for your behind.’ Apart from convincing people that using a bidet is the best way to clean your butt, and in spite of the stiff competition, they’ve got a lot of people’s attention! The TUSHY bidet attachment is also environmentally friendly, squeaky clean, saves you money, it’s fun, totally natural to use, and it makes you feel, ‘It’s the way to go if you’re in the know.’

Health, Hygiene and Environment. Environmentally the big plus about bidets is they save water, a lot of water. Another is ‘Trees vs Bamboo’ as millions of trees are cut down to make toilet paper, check our article, ‘Is Wiping our Bottoms Wiping out Forests?’ Bamboo offers a sustainable future. As numerous stats clearly illustrate bidets are good for the environment, healthier and the most hygienic self-care option. But tell that to people a couple of years ago and ‘yer, right!’ The fact is it’s Miki has managed to get that message out there, got it across and got it to stick. The ‘better for you‘ factor is backed up by a long list of positive personal stuff that’s going to benefit us by using one including; not using our hands and/or spreading germs around, avoiding haemorrhoids, washing with water is non-abrasive, it can help with IBS, UTI’s and periods… quite a lot of which gets covered in their most recent (and amusing) advert, ‘Time To Get With The Clean Poop Program, People.’

The TUSHY Talk

Taking the ‘Boo!’ out of ‘Taboo.’ It would be fair to say that in my personal opinion, in terms of converting the unconverted and taking the ‘Boo!‘ out of ‘Taboo,‘ TUSHY (with their bidet attachments, bamboo tp, bum towels and travel bidet) are currently the greatest influence in moving washing back to the no. 1 spot for our no. 2s and suchlike. But there’s another great ‘finishing touch’ to the TUSHY story and that’s the fact Miki Agrawal is also a philanthropist, ‘TUSHY is passionate about fighting the global sanitation crisis and has helped almost 60,000 families gain access to clean toilets in India.’ TUSHY, ‘Thank you from the bottom of our hearts… and the hearts of our bottoms!’

We’ll be back in a week or two with another of our independent takes on the world of taboos, loos and no. 2s… As ever do get in touch with any comments or feedback. Have a great weekend! Well be back in a couple of weeks as heading off to our B&B in Corfu to check all’s well.

[All photos in the article are copyright of HelloTUSHY]

Toilet Paper 2020. What has the impact been for brands and consumers so far.

Pandas, Koalas, Bears & Puppies | A World of Toilet Paper

The Toilet Tissue Issue. A few months ago pre-lockdown Helen Morris of Tissue World Magazine published an interview with Mark Hendriksen in ‘ConsumerSpeak.’ The worldwide tissue market is worth over £50 billion a year and TWM is the leading independent publication and online resource for the global tissue industry, publishing essential information, analysis and opinions on breaking trends in business, technology, regional developments and sustainability. At the same time as our article appeared in mid May, those in the know were writing a ‘pandemic special 3-parter’ with Helen having interviewed tissue mills and industry insiders to get their views on how the pandemic is impacting the tissue market [toilet paper being a major part of that] and their forecasts for the future. If you’re not in the Tissue Industry and heard of the much respected TWM, or you’re one of many toilet paper users, you may be interested to hear their thoughts.

Impacts on Brands, Business and Consumers. The links to the 3 articles are integrated below. We’re currently doing a short survey aimed at consumers which [although it’s still work in progress] is so far bearing out the observations made in these reports. What has been shown here is how the industry has stepped up to make a collaborative effort, which so clearly demonstrates how the they can come together if and as necessary with an ability to adapt swiftly to the new moments of the economy. The manufacturers and suppliers have also taken extra steps to keep their people and their families safe and healthy. These measures have included enhanced safety measures for office, mill and distribution centre operations. As we see it for our readers, the main (brand-consumer) bullet points taken from the articles are as follows:

  1. ‘The AfH [away from home] sector is especially hard hit as many nations shutdown social activity as restaurants, bars, flights and hotels temporary close down to adjust and safeguard citizens.
  2. An increase has been seen in demand globally for consumer products, that is; toilet paper, household towels, baby diapers, feminine care, and incontinence care products.
  3. Interestingly but not surprisingly, in view of stock shortages and concerns over store visits, direct-to-consumer (DTC) tissue brands operating on subscription basis also see a significant increase in demand and the surge in the number of subscribers. It is unlikely that these brands will be able to retain all of their newly acquired customers as impact of pandemic wanes. However, in regard to e.commerce and DTC, according to some traditionally retail only suppliers, ‘They believe that some of the e-commerce increase will be permanent even after the end of the pandemic.’ [TWM Analysis Part 1]

Winds of Change. It’s going to be interesting to see how many brands retain their customers, how many are ‘unfaithful’ and switch brand and who buys cheaper or non specific brands, and last but not least, though it seems more so in the US and the UK for example, who switches to bidets and the wash vs wipe. All this apart from the greater public awareness of how toilet paper is produced and the amounts of trees & water needed to make it, plus the carbon footprint with delivery. Start-ups, brand ethics, sustainability, flushing and the 3Ps, use of bamboo vs trees, giving back to help resolve world sanitation problems, plus bidets and budgets are all increasingly becoming consumer considerations.

Further Analysis. Next up in TWM’s chat with industry insiders, again, some fascinating nuggets of info and observations, primarily the consequences on daily life, freedom or movement, employment, operations and liquidity of companies, and the global economy as a whole. The manufacturing of TP and tissue was impacted when the pandemic started, then further disrupted by the panic buying, both of which hit the supply chain. ‘Orders for toilet paper and paper towels increased as consumer/household demand surged, while demand for products at airports, hotels, institutional spaces and other public venues softened.’ [TWM Analysis Part 2]

The New Normal? Finally, the 3rd article discussed the temporary uptick in retail, against the troubles in the ‘away from home’ [AfH] sector. Although titled as ‘USA Tissue’ the general findings apply to a number of countries. This then comes full circle, as the points made in Article 1 begin to repeat for both consumer and business activities/public services. The take-aways from this for us were:

  1. ‘It’s important to consider that the extent of economic fall out and high rates of unemployment will place an additional strain on many household budgets, with consumers rationalising further. Potentially diminishing gains for categories like paper towels and facial tissue, with toilet paper serving as a substitute in view of depressed incomes.’
  2. ‘However, the spike in demand is not necessarily all good news for the key brands. Aside from being temporary, the uptake in demand sees shoppers choosing first and foremost cheaper private label as well as stocking large bulk lower cost packages at retailers like Costco as well as discounters.’
  3. ‘With respect to consumer tissue and bathroom routines, in the past couple of years we have been watching the rising demand for bidets in the US.’ Which we’ve also observed but as mentioned, the US seemingly more so than other countries with TUSHY in particular.
  4. The major manufacturers are succeeding and TP consumption looks on track to keep growing. ‘However, direct-to-consumer (DTC) tissue brands operating on a subscription basis are proving to be agile when it comes to inventory management, and they engage with customers on an ongoing basis, also via popular social media channels, so are building longer-term customer retention and acquisition strategies.’ A thought for the bigger players to ponder as pandas join the bears, koalas and puppies in an effort to grab your bottom?

Just to wrap up, our weekly round up of the news and articles on loos & no. 2s…

  1. More news on harnessing the power of poop from, ‘Successful Farming‘, written by Jessica Wesson.
  2. The Proof is in the Poop. ‘How your poop is being used in the fight against COVID-19‘ from the San Diego Union Tribune, as more and more interest grows in epidemiology + wastewater. From CNN on the same subject, check out this video, ‘How poop could help warn of the next coronavirus outbreak.’ Finally, for now, yet another article from The South China Morning Post, ‘Singapore is checking waste water with people’s poo for coronavirus‘ by Dewey Sim.
  3. An article from Anthropocene in their weekly science despatch, ‘What to do about greenhouse gases from poo‘ by Sarah DeWeerdt.
  4. Sit vs Squat. Lastly, about one of our regular topics. An article by Michael Marshall in NewScientist recently reported, “Certainly, sitting upright to void isn’t natural. For most of our species’ history, people squatted, bending their knees and sticking out their bottoms. About two-thirds of people still do this. Of course, “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “better.” However, medical professionals are starting to implicate conventional toilet use in many abdominal disorders including constipation, bloating and possibly haemorrhoids. And a recent review of sitting upright to defecate even concluded that it was time to “put this unfortunate experiment to an end”.

Do Get in Touch. We’re always happy to hear from readers with any comments or interesting articles so do get in touch. Until next week…

‘Beauty Spots’ where to go when there’s nowhere to go? This week’s news on loos & no. 2s.

Getting out and about as lockdown eases. Illustration from the children’s book ‘All Animals Poo & We Do Too’ copyright Hendriksen & Hopson

Scoop the Poop. The past few weeks have seen more and more people out and about in the sunshine at parks and beaches. But at the same time public toilets have so far remained shut. This has led to a number of headlines highlighting the growing problem of ‘where to go when there’s nowhere to go’ and what’s subsequently been happening to these well-loved beaches and beauty spots. We’re used to the ‘scoop your poop’ signs and doggy doo’s bags and bins for our pets, but as for us humans? A more tongue in cheek sign at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, Canada recently served to highlight the issue, one that we felt needed to be discussed in this week’s post. Here’s that exact article by Jenny Yuen for The Toronto Sun in which she said, “Ten thousand people, no bathrooms, you do the math.” So we did – see below!

Facebook | Ira Samuel Cohen

Scoop on the Poop. To focus on one country as an example, the UK has approximately 9 million pet dogs. One in four households in the UK has a pet dog, and they produce 1,000 tonnes of poop a day, or 365,000 tonnes a year [Hansard UK Govt.] and that’s about 85,000 times as heavy as a Hippopotamus [The Measure of Things.] Now that your imagination is ignited… That would mean that in theory if the UK population still had to poop their average 4-500 grams a day outside [LiveScience] then at 68 million people, we would be depositing the equivalent weight of approx. 68 million adult Pandas of poop in the open each year. That’s without accounting for the use of tissue to clean up after, which would mean mountains of mess throughout the land and widespread disease. Fortunately for us that’s not the case, but remarkably it is still the case for 1/3rd of the world population.

To be in the Loop. This may seem rather abstract but it helps us to add a perspective on outside pooping, and also introduces the more serious and less publicised point that open defecation (rare in the toilet owning world), is a huge problem for over 1 billion people worldwide [WHO] that still have to ‘go outside.’ An even higher figure if you add those without access to basic sanitation or water, which brings the total to 1 in 3 people globally. Add to that the extraordinary number of diseases associated to this scenario and you may be surprised to learn that those diseases include; cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. According to the WHO diarrhoea remains a major killer (432,000 diarrhoeal deaths annually). So far 380,000 deaths have occurred worldwide from coronavirus. But, better water, sanitation, and hygiene could prevent the deaths of 297,000 children aged under 5 years ‘each year’ from said diseases.

The Big Necessity.‘ There are many resources you can access if you want to know more, and plenty of statistics and eye-opening stories but our ‘take home on this’ is that while the problem is being addressed through a number of determined passionate people and organisations, this is nowhere near enough supported to stop the tragic and yearly consequences from being anywhere near adequately addressed. For what we consider to be one of the most ground-breaking, informative and unforgettable books on the subject, go buy Rose George‘s, ‘The Big Necessity‘ – it’s a fascinating read as she exposes the biggest single unexposed health problem on planet earth.

When Nature Calls. Meanwhile back to where we started, and a few links to get you through the weeks ahead until the public toilets reopen. Stay safe, stay aware and please leave no trace when pooping outside to keep other safe too. As an addendum, we just spotted an article in the Evening Standard by Lezlie Lowe, published today 5th June, entitled, ‘As lockdown eases we need to talk about toilets.’ Here, Lezlie reiterates the comments we’ve made and also those we discussed about improving public toilets for women, link here. Well worth reading as she’s researched the subject far more than we, and do buy her book too, ‘No Place To Go: How Public Toilets Fail our Private Needs.’ The other article that’s popped up since we published was in HuffPost on 6th June, where Sophie Wilkinson writes for ‘Opinion’, ‘Public Toilets Are An Equalities Issue. Why Don’t We Care?‘ Great to see these expert views on the subject.

  1. Huffpost: How To Pee And Poop Outdoors If Provincial Park Washrooms Are Closed.
  2. Road Trippers: Nature is calling: Here’s how to poop properly in the great outdoors.
  3. A classic list from Adventure Journal: Seven Ways to Poop Outdoors.
  4. The Manual: How to Poop in the Woods: A Guide for When Nature Calls.

We’ll be back again next week.

‘Mr. Toilet. The World’s #2 Man’ is now available on Amazon.

Mr. Toilet. The World’s #2 Man

A film title that may feel less than serious than it actually is, as this film has an important message. A docu-film about one man’s mission to focus world attention on the enormous percentage of the population who have no access to basic sanitation and/or water. What percentage? According to the World Health Organisation it’s over 2 billion, which to provide a perspective one can more easily imagine is over 25% of the world’s population!

In ‘Mr. Toilet. The World’s #2 Man’ prepare to wade through a lot of poo and unpleasantness that should make you open your eyes to these problems, even if you have to pinch your nose. To get the message across Jack Sim does exactly that, by taking a serious subject with a twist of humour to engage his audience. You’ll see many striking visions of just how bad it really is and how, quite frankly, not enough is being done to resolve the problem, nor to educate and encourage use of toilets and better sanitation practices.

In the earliest times, people really weren’t that fussy about privacy nor easily embarrassed about open defecation, so they tended to just go, when and where they felt like it. Before the first toilets, people lived by, washed, drank and defecated in rivers. But, it wasn’t long before our ancestors figured it was not such a great idea to use the same cleaning and drinking spot in the rivers to also go the loo. They soon understood it was better to wash upstream and do their ablutions downstream, so as not to mix the two! Civilisation was beginning to dawn. It’s been slow progress over thousands of years for the evolution of the ablution and sanitation to get to where it is today. But in these poorer places it’s not a great deal different to those earliest times, the outcome of which is spreading disease and many other serious and worrying peripheral problems.

But, when you get the likes of politicians and ambassadors around the world, plus the UN, Water Aid, Water.org, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the WHO involved, and then add Matt Damon into the mix plus get a movie made about you, then you’ll see why Jack really does make a difference. The film is engaging and honest, but could perhaps have a slightly different structure and focus for a call to action i.e. tangible results. That said it’s a remarkable achievement and Jack’s personality, passion, positivity and engaging nature are getting results and a lot of media attention – if that makes a difference and improves sanitation in those poorer cultures, then ultimately it makes a difference to us all and he has to be congratulated.

If you’ve got Amazon Prime then it’s free, if not… check it out anyway, ‘Mr. Toilet, The World’s #2 Man‘ starring Jack Sim, founder of WorldToiletDay [every year on Nov 19th.]

Maria Centracchio MIWFM, in The Guardian,’Sensor taps and no door handles: Covid-19 shows it’s time to rethink public toilets’

Not sure how good your Dutch is… but further to my comment on the excellent and insightful article in The Guardian by Maria Centracchio MIWFM, ‘Sensor taps and no door handles: Covid-19 shows it’s time to rethink public toilets‘ I’d replied, “Great article! Also, at the same time to implement designs and creative ideas to lessen the queues for ladies and also improve mens urinals (with waterless and odourless, for example look at Urimat systems.) It would be good to do a survey on the whole public loo layouts etc., but certainly agree about sensor taps & no door handles as part of that. Interestingly as I believe The Guardian has reported before, scientists are researching how sampling our stools could offer a faster and cheaper way to pinpoint where outbreaks of COVID-19 are brewing before scores of people become seriously ill, either by tracking or detecting remnants of the virus in municipal sewage.” In essence aside from the tracking, the whole bathroom/restroom design needs a rethink. Not only regarding the gender issues queues etc. but to make pretty much everything ‘touch free’ ensure toilet seats are on every toilet and avoid any splashbacks and water accumulating on floors or surfaces. It’s all possible, but not enough is happening nor fast enough.

Subsequently, having no sooner posted my reply than my (Dutch) wife popped into my office to show me this great video from nu.nl in The Netherlands, where tests can be done without testing people. It basically translates as… “Why they are looking at your stool for traces of coronavirus. The coronavirus has been found in our sewers. But why are we specifically diving into our sewage to find it?Check out the video here.