December 28, 2016

The paperless toilet wipes out the competition.

Paper usage in the toilet is one of the last frontiers of conservation. 40% of all toilet rolls sold in the UK – and 98% in America – are made from paper derived from virgin forests. 

While some are now integrating recycled cotton waste into their mix, and others have silk in there as well, the toilet roll has come a long way from the neatly cut up newspaper tied with string that hung from the nail in my Grandad’s toilet even into the 1970s!  He considered toilet tissue something ‘cissy’, along with pink Camay soap and silk underwear. Although toilet tissue can be made at similar cost from recycled materials, sappy fibre taken from standing trees add the softness required by 21st century discriminating bottoms.

The thought of a paperless toilet may seem impossible to many but think about it:  in many countries, a bidet, a hose with a spray on the end or a bucket of water and a ladle have been in use for centuries.  A sponge on a stick was used in Rome and this makes the crucifixion scene when the soldier offered Jesus a last drink of vinegar that was served on a sponge on a stick even more shocking and insulting.

Paper users are in the minority.  Toilet paper is a rather recent invention and is predominantly used only in North America, Europe and Australasia plus in toilets catering to tourists. Most use a Bidet instead of toilet paper. People who have used a bidet consider it unhygienic to wipe with a dry piece of tissue, newspaper or recycled paper .  Some doctors even claim that toilet paper contributes to haemmorhoids and other anal problems.

Habit, conditioning and culture are what teach us how to use toilets. If you have never known anything other than toilet paper, you may consider water to be something unusual.   But going the paperless route has the advantage of being environment-friendly. Hundreds of thousands of trees are lopped every year for wood chips for the manufacture of toilet tissue and we are flushing forests into the sewers (or putting the toilet tissue into landfill via plastic bags in countries like Mexico, Greece, Turkey etc. where they don’t have the drainage systems to cope with flushed paper).

The bidet can save paper but of course, it uses water which may be anathema in drought-stricken Australia.  This can’t be recycled as grey water either.

However, there is a Japanese, high-tech paperless toilet, which delivers a clean and dry rear-end. Toto, Japan’s biggest manufacture of bathroom and porcelain furnishings, has introduced the paperless toilet.  In its publicity, Toto wrote, ‘There is mounting unease at the amount of toilet paper consumed in the western world.’

TOTO_Washlet

Their toilet seat with its magic self-cleaning ‘Washlet ‘ wand, warm-air dryer and heated seat is the Rolls Royce of toilets. The ‘Washlet’ blows tiny bubbles of water, at the user’s rear end to achieve a new level of hygiene and comfort. A hand-held radio-link control panel installed beside the throne allows the user to turn it on only when needed – thus no flooding of the loo or wetting of clothing.

‘…an integrated, self-cleaning nozzle extends to release a warm, soothing stream of aerated water to provide the ultimate in personal cleansing.’

The nozzle, which is concealed under the back of the toilet seat can be extended to direct its water jet to wherever it is needed.

When cleansed sufficiently, you just flick on the warm air blower, with three temperature settings to choose from, to dry off.

toto

For extra comfort, the seat is warmed  and a built in air purifier blasts any odours.  There is also a model that has noise canceling sound effects to counteract the need for a ‘courtesy flush’,

The entire rigmarole retracts and is disinfected for the next user.

More than 70 per cent of Tokyo households have them installed as paper is something that is at a premium in Japan.  Incredibly, it uses less water than the average toilet due to its unique flush. The average toilet uses 12 litres of water per flush, while the Toto ‘Tornado flush’ uses just six and requires less cleaning due to its super high vitreous glaze CeFiONtect which prevents waste, mould or limescale from clinging.

And the cost?  Around $5000 AUD.  So maybe that alternative, the sponge on a stick, may be preferable!

The hoses used in Singapore and Bangkok are excellent though I worry about the water quality of those cities.  OK for Australia though.

This is a spray hose that is connected to the toilet plumbing inlet.  It has a nozzle at the end of the hose and is easily flicked on and off. Nothing for drying though!  Back to the paper.

Or you can try (don’t be scared now!) an alternative such as cotton cloths – a wonderful blogger and “urban farmer extraordinaire”  Sayward Rebhal at Bonzai Aphrodite has done so in her Monday Monthly Missions. See how she does it here and read about her experiences of her new cloth reusable toilet paper!

family_cloth

Our wonderful images are by Egahen & Bonzai Aphrodite

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Comments

  1. Good job on the article!

    I am with you on this one; a Bidet is much better than toilet paper. Toilet paper uses a lot of resources.

    • I agree about the wastefulness of paper – but I have to admit I struggle with the idea of changing from it! I know it is merely a mental hurdle but it is hard to overcome!

      From travelling around countries that only use a bidet, I struggled! I even went and purchased tissues which is not the best option!!!
      Maybe all Aussie homes could offer both bidet and toilet paper and we can teach children how to use both.

  2. Here’s a site where you can purchase the spray hose bidet (easily connected to the part of your toilet that fills the cistern) but haven’t found an Aussie supplier yet.
    http://www.aquastream.co.uk/
    I have used these in Singapore and Thailand and, apart from the cold water in winter, they are fantastic. Cuts down the paper flowing into the environment by around a tenth! Now I am on the hunt for one for our house.

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  4. Hi,
    Need to install a hand held bidet to our toilets which run on recycled water.Any idea how it can be done.
    thanks

  5. I am not a plumber, but my husband installed ours and said that you may need a little header tank to add to the pressure for this. Can you pump your recycled water to a small header tank? The water needs some pressure to squirt with enough force to clean.
    It wouldn’t need a lot, just a little. We have tank water and the hot water service comes off that but has a header tank at top of tank level and the pressure for that is not great but just adequate for our normal taps. The washing machine, for instance, takes an age to fill.
    Good luck!

  6. hi,
    abhishek, india,
    we use water as our main source as it can b easily filtered back ,
    just need to instal a water jet costing 200-300rs(8-15$)
    1- inbuilt jet in pot wer u hav to position ur rear as per flow,
    2- hand held jet in wch u can angle as per ur wish.
    over head tank gives d required potential pressure if not a small motor/pump costing 200rs(6-8$) needs to b attached in series
    initial cost in quite low, may b equal to pack of tissue paper of a 2-3 months supply,.
    once fixed, no maintenance til a decade.

    water can b easily n cheaply recycled, paper is hard n not env friendly.
    save trees!!

  7. Thanks for reading and for sending us your comment. Yes, a small header tank is adequate pressure for a hand-held bidet. I must say that after now having had ours installed for many months, I quite miss it when I have to stay elsewhere as it is so clean and efficient. In areas where water (particularly monsoon rains) is plentiful, it seems like the ONLY solution.

  8. I purchase our bidet sprays from Manila Phil.for about $5 each cuts paper use by about 60%. Have had them for about 5 years and also installed for family and friends. If i can find a good supplier i would import them to Aust. big secret is the quality of the hose..

    • If you do get started importing into Australia, let us know!

    • $5?? That is amazing. I think they are also really good for the health. I wish I could convince everyone around here to buy them. Some people find them really confronting and hard to use, but now I have the technique, I love it.