Deep down, Americans have always known that wiping their rears with dry paper is ineffective; a classic survey showed that half of TP users spend their days with "fecal contamination"—anything from "wasp-colored" stains to "frank massive feces"—in their underpants. And yet we continue to mock the bidet, the Frenchest of innovations, as froufrou, risqué, de trop. But while personal hygiene is one thing, the future of the planet is another. The average American uses 57 sheets of toilet paper a day; collectively, we burn through 36.5 billion rolls each year. Tossing all the TP in America would save 15 million trees, 17.3 terawatts of electricity, and more than 473 billion gallons of water annually; the environmental impact of bidets is minimal in comparison. No wonder the Japanese bidet behemoth Toto is gearing up for a massive sales push in the States. When it's hip to be green, ditching the Charmin could -actually make a difference. And not only in our (dirty) drawers.
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