Alternative to TP for your Tushy

By now, I hope that most stores have restocked their toilet paper and you have been able to purchase a reasonable amount of TP. You’ve probably also seen a number of funny meme with TP alternatives like leaves or 3 sea shells (share your favorite TP memes in the comments below). Before you stockpile a years worth of the stuff, I want to share an alternative to TP,  a bidet.

Picture of leaves with text saying Florida Man Toilet Paper

by SarahLoveland

box with 3 silver sea shells - reference to movie Demolition Man

by LurkinFlerken

Since our trip to Berlin last summer, when I got a chance to try a bidet at our friends apartment, I have been considering installing one in our bathroom. They had a totally separate bidet next to the toilet, which wouldn’t fit in either of our bathrooms.  I was really excited to discover the aftermarket bidet conversion kits available for less than $100.

The coronavirus TP shortage, was the extra nudge I needed to make it happen beyond the health benefits.  I purchased a Tushy Classic Bidet (referral link).  The whole installation took me about 10 minutes and I have been very pleased.  The Classic is the simplest bidet in that it just hooks up to the the cold water feeding into the toilet bowl.  The kits includes everything you need to hook it up, except a wrench & screwdriver.

The Tushy Classic Bidet has adjustable pressure and angle, a self-cleaning nozzle and requires no electricity.  You can also get the Spa model which adds a hot water line to your sink that can be mixed for a warm wash.

Tushy Classic Bidet with Bamboo Controls

I have been very pleased with the Tushy Classic Bidet and now for number two, I only use 2 sheets to pat dry.  Going for the reusable cloths for drying is a bit more than I’m ready for yet, even though we loved cloth diapers.  I don’t know how much TP you use, but at 2 sheets a go, a roll will last almost forever.

My family is still coming around.  After about a week, my kids asked for instructions on how to use it and seem intrigued.

If you want the luxurious bidet life, for about $1,000, Toto makes the S500e Washlet Bidet Toilet Seat with on demand hot water heater, a remote control and more bells and whistle than you need.  With all the energy it uses,the Toto is not a green alternative to TP.

Speaking of green, you may be asking if using the extra water instead of toilet paper is greener.  That is a good question and the answer depends on where you live.  Where we live in New England, water is not a scarce resource.  Every year more water overflows our reservoirs than is consumed by the system, so we are not at risk of running out.  If you are in a drought stricken region or a place that even occasionally experiences drought, you should really consider if you need/want a bidet.

Maybe there is a bidet in your future to help you stay home and out of the stores while we are all hunkered down in our homes for the coronavirus pandemic.

Please continue to practice social distancing as much as possible because what we saw in the aisle of the stores with TP being gone is the same thing that will happen in our hospitals with ventilators and respirators if we don’t flatten the curve.

Happy Greening!

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Remember to share your favorite TP memes in the comments!

The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Green Living

corona virus

Photo from Johns Hopkins Medical

As most people in the world, I am carefully following the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and have made a number of changes to my daily life to help slow the spread.  I am an engineer, not a health care professional, so am interested in the system effects and exploring impact on green lifestyles.

I’ve looked at a number of personal changes we’ve made to protect ourselves and community from the spread and noticed that several of them are in conflict with green living.

throwing away wet paper towelsFor example, instead of air drying or using a powered hand dryer, I am using 2 disposable paper towels to thoroughly dry off my hands every time in the bathroom.  While this is consuming paper products and adding to the landfill, it is the most effective and sanitary way to dry my hands after the 20+ seconds of thoroughly washing with soap and water.  I then use the paper towel to open the door to exit before tossing in the trash.

I am ok doing this because if it helps keep just one person out of the hospital, then it was worth it.

Here are some additional things for which I am choosing the less green option in the name of stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Purchasing bottled water – We generally keep a case of bottled water in the basement for emergencies and convenience when a kid needs a fully disposable lunch for a field trip.  A case will last us a couple years. Now we have 3 cases just in case.
  • Using lots of hand sanitizer -Before the coronavirus, I would generally only use hand sanitizer if I was sick myself or if one of my family members was sick at home.  Now I use it every time I get into the car, when I enter buildings at work, when I’m shopping and just because I feel the need.  I’ve ordered a lot online about 2 weeks ago, but it is back ordered because everyone else is using it too.
  • Using disposable paper products at church – We’ve been very happy that our church was using ceramic coffee mugs and plates since before we joined over a decade ago.  Because of the coronavirus, the church has temporarily switched to all disposable paper products, but at least it is not styrofoam.

Even though each of these things by themselves is less sustainable, when we look at the bigger system, like engineers like to do, they are better for the planet because the amount of resources needed to treat just one person with a severe case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are intense.  Patients spend 3-6 weeks in the intensive care unit (ICU) where they are hooked up to ventilators, require almost constant monitoring by nurses and doctors to keep them alive.  I got these figures from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Report on COVID-19.

Fortunately there are a number of green consequences of the worlds response to the coronavirus such as:

  • less commuting – I like many others I know are now working from home to help with social distancing, so I no longer drive 8 miles to and from work each day.
  • less air travel – people that can avoid air travel, or any travel, are avoiding it and the number of airlines canceling flights because they are empty is rising, and that was before the travel ban with Europe.
  • less shopping – with the exception of consumable goods like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, retail sales are down.  People have a legitimate fear of catching this virus from touching a surface, shopping carts or packages in stores.  There is even some fear of boxes coming from Amazon that could be contaminated as the coronavirus can survive for 3 days on cardboard.
  • factories in China shutdown – with most factories temporarily shutdown due to workers being sick and quarantine measures, nitrogen dioxide emission levels were visibly reduced according to the Washington Post.corona virus emissions comparison

In the end, I hope that we are taking sufficient actions to contain the spread of the coronavirus and that we are able to flatten out the curve sufficiently enough to keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

Stay safe out there and wash your hands!

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