What has long been considered a luxury item in the West — especially in the U.S. — may finally be going mainstream, with implications for both the environment and sanitation around the world.
Bidets, which project a stream of water in lieu of wiping with toilet paper, are common in Asia and Southern Europe, but, until now, have not managed to gain an American foothold outside the bathrooms of the ultra-wealthy.
After spikes in popularity beginning in 2016, the U.S. bidet market is now worth $106 million and is expected to grow 15% by 2021.
Why now? Part of it is cultural. The first efforts to bring bidets to the U.S. in the 1960s failed in large part because Americans familiar with bidets at the time only knew of them from European and Japanese brothels during World War II. Both the passage of time and the expansion of international travel have eliminated that impediment.
Price has been a barrier. In fact, the luxury factor, reinforced in film and television, might be what stalled the mass market for so long. Bidets were never presented as an option for middle-class consumers.
Product innovation has reduced the starting price point for bidets, though. Whereas luxury toilets with built-in bidets can cost thousands of dollars, attachment versions can now do the same job for a fraction of the cost and without complex installation requirements.
The leader in this new bidet-friendly era has been TUSHY, the bidet-attachment startup founded in 2015 by Miki Agrawal, who previously launched the groundbreaking period underwear company THINX. The company closed a $2.1 million venture round in August, and its $20 million in annual revenue is expected to triple in 2019.
TUSHY’s core product, a bidet attachment that easily connects to an existing toilet, retails on its site for $79 — a price comparable to what many Americans spend annually on toilet paper. A “spa” version, which includes additional features like temperature control, is also available for an additional $20.
TUSHY’s marketing has emphasized the health and environmental benefits of bidets over toilet paper, all of which are backed by science.
As early as 2009, scientists were pushing for wider adoption of bidets as a far better option for the environment than toilet paper. Currently, Americans use about 34 million rolls of toilet paper per day. The 37 gallons of water required to make each roll adds up, as do the 387 trees needed to create a single person’s lifetime supply of toilet paper.
In addition to environmental pros, using a bidet also reduces the risk of rashes, hemorrhoids and other unpleasant side effects that can come from wiping with dry paper — which, as the company bluntly notes on its site, is also not that effective: “If someone crapped on your floor… would you wipe it with toilet paper?”
TUSHY is not just cleaning up America’s behinds. Its give-back model puts a portion of its profits into building community toilets in India, where sanitation remains a significant problem.
Tuesday, November 19 marks World Toilet Day, an official observance day established by the United Nations in 2012 to raise awareness of the global sanitation crisis, which annually leaves more than 4 billion people without access to clean, safe toilets.
In celebration of World Toilet Day, TUSHY is offering a savings of 10% off your purchase at HelloTUSHY.com with the code TOILET.
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