Farid Quraishi, guest writer
Is there a more environmentally friendly and sanitary method to cleaning yourself after taking a poop than toilet paper? The answer is YES! People have been cleaning themselves with water for thousands of years because it is more effective and hygienic than any other method. From the most simple method of using a cup of water and the left hand to highly sophisticated methods such as the Japanese electronic bidet, water has been proven to be a superior cleaning method than wiping the anus with dry toilet paper.
Many Middle Eastern, African, and South Asian nations use a water-filled vessel shaped (often confused with a teapot or a genie lamp) that is used in conjunction with the left hand to gently clean and wash after using the toilet. Though this method has been around for thousands of years, it is very low tech, very environmentally friendly, and if done correctly, very hygienic. Today the Arabs and Turks have a special hose located next to the toilet that provides a constant source of water and this device is known as the Islamic shower. For those of you who may be a bit squeamish about bringing your left hand to wash feces from the anus, why would you feel any less squeamish about leaving a fecal residue on your butt hole? Skid marks, anyone?! A good washing with warm water and soap is all that is needed to make your hand so clean that even President Sandy Pfeiffer would be tempted to slap you a high five.
A modern and more sophisticated method using water is the bidet, which shoots a stream of water straight up and the force of the water cleanses the anus. This device has been proven to have a far smaller ecological footprint than a standard Western-style toilet. Many modern nations use the bidet method including Argentina, France, Italy, and Japan. It may be of interest to note that the Japanese have invented an electronic bidet that washes, drys, has a warmed seat for your sitting pleasure, and can even be purchased with an MP3 player. Welcome to the future!
What gets me stumped is this. As a progressive college, why do we adhere to such a primitive method of toilet hygiene when the rest of the world has evolved? Recently I saw several stickers attached to the paper towel dispensers in the restrooms that stated, “Remember, these come from trees. 100 pounds of paper will be saved by this sticker”. Why was this sticker not also applied to the toilet paper dispensers inside the stalls? According to Wikipedia, “One tree produces about 100 pounds of toilet paper and about 83 million rolls are produced per day”. We go to great measures at WWC to ensure that paper is recycled because we are aware they come from trees, but the use of toilet paper goes unaddressed nearly entirely. Many other factors must be taken into consideration with toilet paper such as the environmental impact of harvesting old growth forests, perfumes, bleaching, and chemical treatment. Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist and waste expert with the Natural Resource Defense Council told the New York Times, “Future generations are going to look back at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution.”
The point that I am trying to make is that we need an alternative to what has been the dominant paradigm in toilet culture in America and what better place to start than installing bidets at Warren Wilson College. If we go to the lengths to boast “green” buidings, a permaculture garden, and a vegan cafeteria we should also alter our hygienic behavior to match our claims of sustainability. The composting toilets are really nifty in the Ecodorm but how many trees have ended up at the bottom of the pit in the form of poop-smeared paper? Let’s change our habits and with them let’s change the world. Warren Wilson students used to have a reputation of having the strongest handshakes in North Carolina from milking the cows. I believe Warren Wilson College can have the cleanest and greenest assholes in the state, also.