Give me a hand: Just make sure you wash it first
It's not hard to wash a hand, and it’s even easier to wash a bum. Hand and water bum-washing is the everyday toilet ritual for most of the world’s population. But since toilet paper first came into popular use over a century ago, the rest of the world seems to have totally lost sight of any other way. Bum washers scoff at using toilet paper, yet butt wipers scoff at the idea of not using it. Talk to people who grew up in a bum-washing culture and they swear by it. And with all these benefits, it’s easy to see why they’re reaching in unguarded.
Cleaner: Yes, way cleaner. Think about the difference between taking a shower and using a dry paper towel to wipe the dirt off your body. Besides, we wash our bums in the shower; doing it over the toilet isn’t much different.
Sustainable: You’re going to wash your hands anyways, so a little bit of extra water is all that’s needed to do the job this way. Think about what goes into manufacturing and transporting toilet paper: trees, water, chemicals, oil, etc. According to the Worldwatch Institute, the equivalent of approximately 27,000 trees is flushed down the pipes every single day as toilet paper.
Healthier: Avoid chafing your tender ass and contributing to anal fissures. The bleaching process creates dioxin, a toxic by-product that’s bad for our health and the environment. There's also the issue of unsanitary raw materials sometimes being used in the production of toilet paper, which can contaminate the final product with high levels of bacteria.
Several bum-washing techniques are used around the world, including the bidet, bidet shower spray, sprayer pipe, electronic toilet seat with sprayer; but for the typical bathroom in the West (and for the typical person who wants to live sustainably), I’m going to recommend one simple and fun technique that requires no bathroom renovations or expensive equipment—the scooper method. Just set yourself up, release your load, and do the three-step wipe, waltz and wash.
- 1. Fill a bucket of water and place it beside the toilet. Get a cup with a handle (a measuring cup will do just fine) and hook it onto the rim of the bucket.
- 2. Relax and enjoy doing your thing, knowing that you won’t have a big impact on the environment (unless, of course, you bomb the bowl with major butt rock).
- 3. Lift the toilet seat then scoop some water with the cup (using your right hand). Bend over and drop the water down your crack. Wash any remains (using your left hand). Soap is optional at this point. Some people like to use a washcloth too.
- 4. Dance your ass off (or in this case “dance the water off your ass”).
- 5. Wash your hands.
That’s it: five steps to a cleaner bum and a better world. Your first response to this might have been "Ewwww, that’s gross!" An understandable reaction given a century’s worth of conditioning. After all, some of the world’s largest corporations, and some of the world’s cutest kittens have put a lot of effort into getting you to buy their favorite paper product playthings.
But really, is it unhygienic? I can tell you that after doing it this way for more than a year it’s not an issue. Here in Asia, it’s just the norm. In fact, toilet paper (or white person’s prayer flag as it’s sometimes called), is actually quite an embarrassment. Anyone who has gone trekking and seen long strands of toilet paper flapping from a tree can attest to this.
If hygiene was such a problem, people would be dying all over the place. And how would Westerners have gotten here in the first place, after having done it this way for thousands of years? There’s actually mounting evidence suggesting that over-sanitization has led to the unprecedented growth of allergies, asthma and other auto-immune conditions. And think of the alternative: If everyone did use toilet paper, what would the world look like? An even greater mess than it does today, that’s for sure. So for our own good—and for that of the environment—try to get over the ick factor ... and give yourself a hand.