Can't Find Any Toilet Paper? Get a Bidet

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CC BY 2.0. The toilet paper section of our local supermarket/ Lloyd Alter

Save the trees and a lot of water too.

There's lots of toilet paper around; all the companies that make the stuff say that there is more than enough. Yet people are going nuts over it. In Australia, according to Adrian Lee in the Globe and Mail, "a man had to be tasered by police after allegedly choking a fellow customer and reaching for an officer’s gun in pursuit of the scarce stuff." Even where I live in Canada, home of the boreal forest that supplies most of the trees that are chipped and mixed with millions of gallons of water and bleach to make the stuff, the shelves are empty.

CC BY 2.0. Lloyd Alter/ toto toilet with washlet

Lloyd Alter/ toto toilet with washlet/CC BY 2.0

But toilet paper is one thing I don't have to worry about; as I noted a few years ago, I spent $1200 on a toilet seat and you should too.

Every year or so I ask Is 2017 the year of the bidet? or Is 2019 the year bidets make a splash in North America? And every year, more and more people are trying them, with sales up 15 percent last year. But they are still rare in North America, and Adrian Lee writes:

Yet here we are, continuing to swipe at our dirtiest parts with our pathogen-transmitting hands – protected only by a few measly scraps of pulp – merely because of the tyranny of convention. And now, toilet-paper wiping is apparently so deeply ingrained that we’re willing to stand in line for the right to buy these wasteful smearing-papers.

© Kohler Numi

No, you don't have to spend $1200 to get a bidet toilet like I did on my Toto, or $7,000 for a Kohler Numi that's pretty enough to put in your Case Study House living room. These high end bidets are warm to sit on, and have dryers as well as washers.


© Brondell Freshspa

The Brondell Freshspa and the likes start at about forty bucks. Most are cold water only but I have seen models that connect to both the hot and cold water supplies. I started with a version like this and noted that "even though our northern water supply is quite cold out of the tap it was never that much of a problem. The wand has to be cleaned manually every now and again because it doesn't retract, and you do have to use some toilet paper to dry your bottom. But it did work well and I recommend it if you can't afford more or don't have a convenient electric outlet." Brondell also makes an electric version that does everything that the Toto does for about half the price. See more at, an online store with lots of useful information.

washlet controls

Lloyd Alter/ Toto Washlet controls/CC BY 2.0

Every time I look on websites like Houzz or read articles like "the latest bathroom trends" I wonder what they are thinking, talking about tile patterns and countertops but never about things like this. I concluded my first post on my Toto Washlet questioning this:

As one who always is complaining about gizmo green and touting the benefits of dumb homes and simple tech, it is perhaps odd that I am such a fan of an expensive, complicated construct of pumps, fans, heaters and wireless controls. As someone who is a bit of a prude, it is difficult to talk about washing and air-drying my bum. But people spend so much money on their bathrooms and their homes, and often drop at least as much money on a set of taps or a stone counter that does nothing for you. This is an investment that actually delivers a return.

Everyone should invest in one of these. It saves the trees, saves the water, saves your bum. And these days, you don't have to worry about finding toilet paper.