In this guide, we discuss whether bidets might be eco friendly and sustainable across different sustainability indicators.
We also briefly outline how they might compare to other toilet hygiene options.
Summary – Are Bidets Eco Friendly & Sustainable?
Bidets come in various types.
Some of the most popular bidets are non electric bidet attachments, as well as non electric and electric bidet toilet seats
There are also hand held bidet hoses, and bidet/toilet combos, but these can be less popular
Simple bidet attachments with basic settings (without warm air dry and without warm water settings) are probably slightly more eco friendly than the more advanced models that are electric (and that include these additional settings)
Bidets might be considered to be on a similar level of eco friendliness and sustainability as 100% post consumer recycled toilet paper, and bamboo toilet paper.
Regular toilet paper is probably behind them (when it uses virgin trees, bleaches and other chemicals), with wet wipes most likely the least eco friendly and sustainable of the bunch
Some of the biggest savings with bidets may come in regards to saving the water, energy, and chemicals on making toilet paper (and using less toilet paper), and less flushing of the toilet.
But, it depends on how toilet paper vs bidets are made, and the individual toilet practices of the individual
There are no comprehensive studies out that take into consideration the eco footprint of manufacturing/producing bidets
Most of them only take into account operation of bidets and the production and use of toilet paper.
Also, different bidet companies and products are going to have slightly different eco standards and sustainability processes (so, each one requires an individual assessment).
For these reasons, this guide is a generalisation only.
Main Types Of Bidets
Bidets come in three popular types:
– Bidet attachments
– Non electric bidet toilet seats
– And, electric bidet toilet seats
But, there are also other types of bidets available
What Bidets Might Be Made Of
Bidets might be made of a combination of:
– Plastic (usually housing units and sometimes the t-piece and some screws on cheap attachments)
– Metal (like stainless steel)
– Ceramic (for bidet toilet seats)
– And, some type of control panel
How Eco Friendly & Sustainable Are Bidets?
To date, there has been little information released about the eco footprint of the manufacturing process of bidets.
Plastic comes from petroleum, and metal is obviously recycled or mined.
So, there is potential for bidets to have a bigger eco footprint than what is thought when these things are considered.
With most commercially available bidets, a small amount of toilet paper might still be used to dry wet spots.
Apart from that, bidets don’t use a lot of water per use, and in the case of electric bidets, the amount of electricity they use for warm air or warm water is usually minimal.
Most people would probably throw out a bidet once it reaches the end of it’s product life cycle, so they probably end up in landfill, unless the steel and metal can be removed and recycled
Bidets vs Toilet Paper: Eco Friendliness & Sustainability Stats
Below we look at different aspects of sustainability for bidets vs toilet paper.
Water Use – Manufacture
bidet.org outlines the manufacture of toilet paper as using the following amount of water:
Americans on average use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper each year
… it requires between 12 and 37 gallons of water to produce a single roll of toilet paper [and] … the average person typically uses 1 roll of toilet paper per week [or] 52 rolls per year.
Even if each roll only required 12 gallons of water to produce this is still 624 gallons of water used to produce the toilet paper.
If each roll requires 37 gallons of water this adds up to almost 2,000 gallons of water just to make toilet paper for one person to use
This is 3.7 billion gallons of water each day used just to manufacture toilet paper for US consumers [and these numbers don’t include the numbers on water usage for flushing toilet paper]
Water Use – Flushing vs Cleaning
bidet.org compares water use for flushing and cleaning of bidets vs toilet paper:
… A typical toilet in the USA needs 5 gallons of water to flush, and on average a normal American will flush at least 5 times a day.
… a bidet only requires one eighth of a gallon of water to clean and flush
This means using a toilet could waste at least 25 gallons of water each day just flushing while the same use of a bidet means less than a gallon of water is wasted
If there was a program for universal bidet use then the USA could save more than 3.6 billion gallons of water each and every day [from eliminating toilet paper and using less water for flushing each time someone goes]
… Universal bidet use in the USA would require 37 million gallons of water each day.
In perspective toilets require 8 billion gallons of water each day in the country for flushing, and toilet paper requires another 3.7 billion gallons of water per day to produce.
[A bidet] uses less [water] than [what is used] in the production of even recycled toilet paper — and a fraction of the amount consumed by virgin pulp
Paper making is incredibly water-intensive.
… where Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper annually … This also involves 473,587,500,000 gallons of water to produce the paper … [and] … treehugger.com reports that making a single roll of toilet paper requires 37 gallons of water …
… the amount of water used by a typical bidet is about 1/8th of a gallon, with the average toilet using about four gallons per flush
Electricity & Energy Use
… treehugger.com reports that making a single roll of toilet paper requires … 1.3 kilowatt/hours (KWh) of electricity …
… manufacturing [of all toilet paper] requires about 17.3 terawatts of electricity annually and that significant amounts of energy and materials are used in packaging and in transportation to retail outlets
[Bidets might only use $20 to $60 worth of electricity in operation per year] (bidetking.com)
Use Of Trees & Wood
… treehugger.com reports that making a single roll of toilet paper requires … some 1.5 pounds of wood (scientificamerican.com)
… where Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper annually, switching to bathroom bidets could save some 15 million trees (scientificamerican.com)
… where Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper annually … This also involves … 253,000 tons of chlorine for bleaching (scientificamerican.com)
Even if water used by a mill is locally sourced, rather than drawn from a municipal system, the effluent from paper production invariably finds its way back into the environment.
That means a flood of organic waste and chemical residue which must be processed or, worse yet absorbed, after being treated and dumped into some unlucky river or ocean
Other Notes On Eco Friendliness & Sustainability
You also have to consider:
Bidets may not save as many trees when you consider that some tissues and toilet paper is made from saw dust and left over wood from other purposes (not always virgin trees). And, you have to consider some people use toilet paper anyway after using a bidet to dry and further clean themselves
The land required to grow trees on a plantation
The energy and electricity used to cut down trees, pulp or wood chip trees, pulp wood, and treat the pulp to make toilet paper
The carbon footprint of the associated production process, and transporting the product
Waste water produced by the production process (that may or may not be reused, and may or may not be treated before being dumped and disposed of)
The chemicals used in making toilet paper – pulp chemical mix, bleaches, scents/fragrances etc.
Plastic or paper packaging
Some people shower less after using a bidet because they feel more clean
Different genders of people with different body parts may have different bidet and toilet paper usage rates and practices
Different people use different amounts of toilet paper, go to the toilet a different amount of times per day
Eco and sustainability numbers can be used on a pro rata basis for each individual person.
Which Countries Use Bidets?
Various reports indicate that Italy, Portugal, Spain, Japan, France, Venezuela, and Argentina might be some of the countries that use bidets the most
In terms of regions, several European countries, Eastern Asia, and some South American countries use them more than other regions
The US currently doesn’t use them as much as some other countries
scientificamerican.com indicates that: ‘… 60 percent of Japanese households today have high-tech bidets … while some 90 percent of Venezuelan homes have bidets’
Bidets vs Toilet Paper vs Wet Wipes – Which Is Most Eco Friendly & Sustainable?
Regular toilet paper (that uses harvested and pulpwood forest wood) probably comes second
Whilst wet wipes are probably the worst (as of right now) from an eco and sustainability perspective
Read more about toilet paper vs bidets vs wet wipes in this comparison guide