On Target

Do Not Delay, Get Your Bidet Today

With Covid-19 spreading across the globe, toilet paper is in higher demand than ever. As technological advancements change all aspects of everyday life, why is humanity still so loyal to TP?

Sophie Shulman 11:0520.03.20
Toilet paper is one of the world’s hottest commodities right now. As coronavirus (Covid-19) spreads across the world, people are emptying shelves in their hurry to stockpile this personal hygiene staple, which makes one wonder: as technological advancements change all aspects of everyday life, why is humanity still so loyal to TP?


There is one major disruptor in the toilet paper sector, though it is anything but new: the bidet. The earliest iteration of the device, which just featured a bowl with water used to wash the intimate areas, was first documented in the 17th century—in France, naturally. The modern iteration, which includes a plumbed-in water supply and a drain connection, is popular in Europe, the Arab world—and Japan. This Asian tech power has bidets in 80% of homes. Japan also boasts the world’s most advanced bidets, some equipped with hot air dryers, automatic scent dispensers, music players, and other playful additions for tourists to struggle with or be amazed by.


Toilet paper out of stock. Photo: Shahar Liron Toilet paper out of stock. Photo: Shahar Liron
Bidet innovation, however, is rising, and not just in Japan.


Most new bidet entrepreneurs actually come from the U.S., not generally a country of bidet enthusiasts. It is, however, a country of toilet paper enthusiasts: U.S. consumption per capita of the white stuff is the highest in the world by an impressive margin. While the global average per person is 5 kilograms a year, and Europeans use 15 kg on average annually (can you guess the leading European Country? It’s poop connoisseur Germany), Americans top the list at a whopping 25 kg per person. The U.S. consumes 36 billion toilet rolls a year, necessitating 15 million trees to be cut down just to deal with all those digested tacos and burgers.


It is that pungent environment that gave birth five years ago to self-defined toilet crusader Tushy LLC, the leading bidet-tech company. Tushy developed a simple device that can be installed under a regular toilet, turning it into a bidet with the option of customizing water pressure and angle of spray. Their bidet, which costs $79, does not require electricity, and last week the company reported a threefold increase in sales within the first two weeks of March. For those who just can’t defecate—sorry, defect—from their paper, they offer an option manufactured from the more environment-friendly bamboo.


Since Tushy was founded in 2014 in Brooklyn, the company raised a humble $2.6 million across two rounds. The current pandemic might help the company raise further funds, seeing as it claims its device reduces a person’s use of toilet paper by 80%. Among the company’s backers is Neil Parikh, co-founder of fashionable mattress company Casper, another traditional sector company presenting itself as a tech company.


Unlike Tushy’s mechanism for the masses, veteran U.S. manufacturing company Kohler Co. offers a much more costly bidet that retails for up to $8,000. This pricy product comes with fancier technological options, such as a remote control that lets users choose the most pleasurable water temperature, angle, and water pressure. This bidet requires an electrical connection, offers led lightning during the night, and can self-disinfect using UV. Some models have a bluetooth connection and a memory card, giving users the option of playing their favorite songs as they go about their business or record a greeting to visitors. As more and more people are forced into seclusion with the outbreak, a cheerful greeting from Mr. Toilet may be just what they need to get through the day.


Alongside bidet-tech, there are also companies developing alternative toilet paper. Who Gives a Crap Inc. is an Australian company that develops incredibly soft toilet paper from recycled materials and donates half of its profits towards better sanitation in developing countries. One of the company’s founders recently reported that the pandemic caused an 800% jump in sales, cleaning out the company’s stock in Australia. Who Gives a Crap , which is bootstrapped, said its revenues triple on a yearly basis, and that it already donated $2 million.