While it often slips past unnoticed, toilet paper can actually be something of an environmental catastrophe. The major mass-market producers – Procter & Gamble (Charmin), Kimberly Clark (Cottonelle, Scott) and Georgia-Pacific (Quilted Northern, Angel Soft) – make their products primarily (and, in some cases, exclusively) from fresh-cut trees, which are mostly grown in Canada, and sometimes in boreal (ancient) forests. The softest, highest quality paper is made from softwood trees, mainly pine and spruce.
And cutting down the trees is only the start of the trouble: To make sure the toilet paper sold to consumers is softer than, say, bark, a tremendous amount of water, energy, bleach, formaldehyde and organochlorines are mixed together to produce the quilted two-ply we all know and love.
This has resulted in a movement for toilet paper that is more sustainable, with firms like Seventh Generation, Who Gives A Crap and No. 2 offering consumers toilet paper made from recycled materials, bamboo or sugarcane fibers. Recycled is the greenest option, sugarcane fibers have potential and bamboo is highly renewable – though the fact that the majority of it comes from China means there are often environmental concerns around production.
And that, according to Tushy CEO Jason Ojalvo, is only part of the problem with traditional toilet paper. Not only does it make a mess of the planet, he told a news outlet, but it also isn’t well-suited to its dedicated task.
“Would you clean your dishes with a piece of dry paper? Of course not,” he pointed out.
Ojalvo noted that the obsession with toilet paper is a unique American phenomenon – in much of the world, the bidet (or bidet-like, water-based solutions) tends to rule the roost. And so Tushy was founded with a simple goal: to bring the bidet to American bathrooms.
As it turns out, it’s a challenge that is a bit more difficult that one might imagine. A standard bidet is often a costly investment: Less expensive models start in the hundreds of dollars, and depending on the number and type of features included, the cost can easily run into the thousands. Moreover, bidets can often present an installation issue. For those renting a home, it may not be realistic or permissible to do a full remodel to install a new appliance. And even if one owns the bathroom in question, the room may not be large enough or have the infrastructure to support a full installation.
If the choice is between a $30,000 bathroom remodel and sticking with standard toilet paper, the decision is pretty clear for the average consumer.
Which is why the Tushy solution was designed around making the technology easy to install, low-cost and low-drama. No remodeling needed – just a standard-issue commode and a little bit of patience for a DIY installation.
The most basic model involves the consumer connecting the tank refill line to their Tushy and then connecting the line from the Tushy to the tank. Instead of filling the bowl, the water is routed through a movable nozzle to the tushy of its user. The device also has a setting for the water to clean the nozzle, for sanitary purposes.
This $64 edition of the product is “as simple as it gets” – the water is cold, and it doesn’t blow mist or steam at one’s posterior. For $84 dollars, however, one can purchase a “spa” edition of the product, which connects to a hot water line, thus alleviating the unexpectedly chilly blast of water.
The product is popular and well-reviewed.
“Tushy saved my butt,” noted one forthright reviewer on the site.
“It’s a little luxury item that goes a long way, and once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never go back to just using toilet paper again,” a Patch.com reviewer noted.
Tushy, we should note, also sells toilet paper made of bamboo, an add-on product that was introduced in 2018. But devotees say that while the TP is useful for drying when they are done with their Tushy, they use far, far less paper than they once did.
That means Tushy may not be looking to permanently break the chains of toilet paper so much as loosen them with a bidet product that is accessible and easy to use.