Pooping is an awkward topic. Even though everybody does it, there’s a lot of embarrassment surrounding the act. There’s even a famous children’s book called Everyone Poops, intended to teach kids that defecation is a natural part of life. Part of the problem with pooping is that it’s kinda gross and messy. But you know how you can make things easier on your tushy? Buy a bidet. Allow me to explain.
Pooping only gets trickier with age — issues like constipation, diarrhea, and hemorrhoids crop up more frequently as we get older. It also turns out we’re all using way too much toilet paper: Americans make up just over 4 percent of the world’s population, but we account for over 20 percent of global toilet paper consumption. To be specific, we use 36 billion rolls annually, which means we’re killing close to 15 million trees in service of our butts. Decidedly not a good move for the planet.
Some positive news: There are ways you can simultaneously help the environment and pamper your bum. These methods include using a bidet (which is better than toilet paper in several key ways!) and trying out bamboo TP in place of regular Charmin. There are also tools that can help you avoid straining on the can and guard against hemorrhoids, such as toilet stools or ‘squatty potties.’ Learn how to revolutionize the way you poop with these tactics and I promise, you’ll thank me later.
So what’s a bidet, anyway?
A bidet is a machine that shoots water at your bare bum. Typically, people use bidets immediately after using the bathroom to clean themselves up. The device was invented in the late 17th century, and bidets are very common throughout the world, from Europe to Asia. The trend, however, hasn’t caught on in the US, despite the fact that bidets are more sustainable and more sanitary than toilet paper. (Think about it: When you wipe up a stain or a spill, is it more effective to use a dry towel or a wet one?)
The term “bidet” can refer to both the standalone type you’ll find frequently in Europe — which looks like a toddler-friendly sink and usually stands alongside the toilet — or a smaller, convenient attachment that rests on top of your normal toilet. Both of these instruments can be used effectively to wash your genitalia.
Finally, don’t worry too much about a hard stream of water spritzing your booty; most bidets allow you to adjust the spray’s pressure and intensity.
Why should I use a bidet?
The water from a bidet is not only better at cleaning your tushy than toilet paper, but it’s also more soothing for anyone who suffers from hemorrhoids or anal fissures. With 23 million annual cases of hemorrhoids (most common among adults over age 50), a bidet offers a nice alternative to the abrasion of toilet paper. There have even been studies that show how bidets mimic the health benefits of a sitz bath (such as reducing anal pressure), and for women, cleansing with clean water will generally be gentler than using toilet paper or vaginal wipes.
Many people favor baby or “wet wipes” post-pooping, but these can strip the natural oils from your anus, which may help perpetuate fissures and tears. Plus, wet wipes are really designed to be thrown away, not flushed — and when they are flushed, they can seriously clog your toilet. Nobody wants to call the plumber and explain that!
What are the environmental benefits of a bidet?
Bidet users consume 80 percent less toilet paper than toilet paper users. You only need a few sheets to pat yourself dry after using a bidet (or just grab a towel). The average person goes through 57 sheets of toilet paper per day, averaging to about $10 worth of toilet paper per month and $120 per year — meaning a family of four will spend $500 on TP in a year. That’s a pretty penny.
You might also suspect bidets waste water, but in truth they’ll save you some. It takes only a pint of water to thoroughly clean your butt after using the bathroom, but 37 gallons of water to create a single roll of toilet paper.
TUSHY, a brand launched in 2015 and described as “a team of toilet crusaders fighting for clean bums and reduced global wastefulness,” offer a high-quality and relatively inexpensive bidet attachment. Their best-selling model is a device that clips easily under your toilet seat. They also sell a portable bidet or TUSHY Travel, a collapsible and expandable bottle with a nozzle and discreet carrying case, so that you can wash your bum anywhere; from a porta-potty at a concert to the bathroom of a friend who has just run out of toilet paper.
What about toilet stools?
These are exactly what they sound like: Small stools you place beneath your feet to improve your body position while having a bowel movement.
It might seem strange, but modern toilets are actually improperly designed for our purposes; sitting on a toilet causes a bend in the rectum that makes pooping more difficult. Putting a toilet stool in your bathroom, however, allows you to adopt a squatting position, which will make you strain less and empty your bowels more completely. This kind of positioning can ease constipation and prevent hemorrhoids.
Perhaps the most famous iteration of the toilet stool is the pleasingly-named Squatty Potty. TUSHY sells their own, more elegantly titled Ottoman, which was named The New York Times Wirecutter’s #1 Toilet Stool in 2021 and boasts a curvy, sleek design.
What other poop-adjacent products save money and trees?
One full grown tree produces about 100 pounds of toilet paper, and per-person consumption of TP in America is about 30 to 50 pounds per year, which amounts to 20,805 sheets. This means that a family of 4 rids the earth of 2 trees each year. Naturally, this contributes to deforestation.
To preserve trees and help ease toilet paper shortages, TUSHY offers a solution: bamboo toilet paper. Bamboo is a great alternative to tree fibers because it grows quickly, requires little water, and uses land efficiently. Also, the same bamboo plant can be harvested multiple times. According to TUSHY, bamboo paper is as soft and strong as normal TP, and one roll of it only requires .59 gallons of water — a little more than 1 percent of the water that’s used when making standard TP.
Lastly, do you have a dirty old toilet brush sitting in your bathroom that you’ve been meaning to throw away? Replace it with TUSHY’s Toilet Brush, a cleaning option with no hazardous ingredients. This brush has one-time use biodegradable pads that will eliminate your fears of chemicals, waste, and bacteria.
And there you have it — all the tools you need to save money, save trees, and make your poops spectacular. We all gotta put up with some crap once in and while — but with any luck, this advice will help yours slip out easily and without mess.