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Bidet vs Toilet Paper: Which is Better for the Environment?

There have been some great showdowns throughout history. Edison vs. Tesla. The Hatfields vs. the McCoys. John Henry vs. the machine. And now: bidet vs. toilet paper! Which is cleaner? Which is better for the environment? What are the reasons for using a bidet instead of toilet paper?

If you’re wondering if a bidet or toilet paper is more hygienic, we’ve got a whole post just on that topic. Today we’ll focus on a different question: is a bidet or toilet paper better for the environment?

The paper problem

Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper every single year, which means we’re responsible for cutting down about 15 million trees for toilet paper alone. In fact, an average person’s lifetime toilet paper usage kills about 384 trees!

And trees aren’t the only things going to waste in paper production. Every year, the toilet paper industry bleaches their paper with 253,000 tons of chlorine and uses up 17.3 terawatts of electricity. And that’s just the manufacturing stage - more energy is wasted in packaging and transporting all that toilet paper before it makes it to the store.

Some luxury bidet toilet seats completely eliminate the need for toilet paper with a built-in drying feature. A bidet attachment also significantly cuts down on toilet paper usage. The spray of water gets you thoroughly clean, and you can pat dry with just a few squares of toilet paper. If you want to be even more environmentally friendly you can opt for a hand towel to dry off instead. This could help completely eliminate any dependence on toilet paper!

The bidet vs toilet paper battle doesn’t stop there! You can’t forget about water usage. People wonder “Isn’t it wasteful to use more water every time you go to the bathroom?”. Not really, especially compared to toilet paper. The average bidet only uses about ⅛ gallon of water per use - while manufacturing one single roll of toilet paper requires about 37 gallons of water!

What about wet wipes?

When you hear about the benefits of cleaning with water, (see our article here: "Are Bidets Sanitary? The Answer is Yes and Here's Why") it can be tempting to consider wet wipes as a quick alternative. But wet wipes are wreaking havoc on the environment. Even though many wet wipes labels describe them as “flushable” or “biodegradable,” such claims don’t take into account what happens to wipes once they’ve been flushed away. They are the single biggest component of fatbergs, congealed masses of accumulated grease and flushed garbage that block our sewer systems.

Even worse, most wet wipes contain plastic fibers. They can’t be broken down in sewage, and those microplastics can end up back in the water stream, harming wildlife. And on the topic of plastic, many wet wipes are packaged in single-use plastic wrap that can’t be recycled, adding even more plastic to the environment! When it comes to bidets vs wet wipes, bidets win that battle too.

The bottom line

If you’re wondering if using toilet paper or bidet is better for the environment, the answer is clear. The manufacturing and distribution of toilet paper wastes water and energy. Our excessive use of toilet paper requires millions of trees to be cut down every year, and the addition of wet wipes to our bathroom habits is causing even more damage. A much more earth-friendly option is cleaning with water from a bidet toilet seat or bidet attachment. Making the switch to a bidet allows your household to significantly cut down on its environmental impact for years to come.

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