Why Are New Yorkers Still Using Toilet Paper?

Why Are New Yorkers Still Using Toilet Paper
Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

In New York and throughout most of the rest of the United States, most people are still using toilet paper to clean themselves after using the bathroom. Only 2.19 million people in the U.S. reported not using toilet paper regularly, with 326.38 million people using toilet paper regularly.

Using a bidet is almost universally superior as a cleaning option, so why aren’t more people using it?

The Advantages of the Bidet

In most countries throughout the world, toilet paper isn’t commonly used. There are a variety of cleaning strategies being used today, but in most developed areas, people heavily rely on bidets for their bathroom cleaning needs.

Bidets are advantageous for several reasons:

  •       A more thorough clean. For starters, cleaning with water always results in a more thorough clean than cleaning with paper. You probably already know this intuitively, since your hands feel cleaner after washing with water than they feel after wiping them off with a paper towel. Ultimately, bidet users are more comfortable and they feel cleaner.
  •       Less wasted paper. Toilet paper isn’t exactly expensive, but the cost of this resource adds up when you use it every day. You’ll still need a bit of toilet paper to dry off after cleaning with a bidet in most cases, but switching away from toilet paper means you’ll use far less of it. That means you’ll spend far less money every year and you’ll live a more sustainable lifestyle.
  •       Positive health outcomes. Using a bidet is also associated with more positive health outcomes for millions of people. People who use a bidet are less likely to experience hemorrhoids and other negative health complications that can come from wiping.

So why aren’t more New Yorkers and Americans making the switch?

Why is Toilet Paper Still the Dominant Option

These are some of the reasons why toilet paper is still the dominant option in most areas:

  •       Lack of knowledge about bidets. Some people don’t even know that bidets exist. They’ve been raised in a world where toilet paper is still the most common option, and they haven’t had the opportunity to travel to other areas. Accordingly, they may not even know that a better option exists.
  •       Misconceptions on cost. Some people believe that bidets are ridiculously expensive. And if you’re tearing up your plumbing and redoing your entire bathroom to make an installation, this might genuinely be the case. But modern bidets are designed to attach to your toilet directly, so they’re much more affordable than they used to be.
  •       Misconceptions on installation. Others have lingering misconceptions about how bidets are installed. They might consider purchasing one if they were renovating an entire bathroom, but since they don’t want to start a renovation or hire a professional plumber, they never pursue the option. In reality, many bidet devices can be easily installed on an existing toilet with no previous plumbing knowledge or experience.
  •       Inexpensiveness and availability of toilet paper. We also need to acknowledge the inexpensiveness and widespread availability of toilet paper. Because this is such a valued and common resource, we find it in abundance in stores all over the country. A single roll of toilet paper is very cheap, and this price is even cheaper when you buy toilet paper in bulk or on sale. Because it’s so easy to find and buy toilet paper, people aren’t prompted to think of potential alternatives to this solution.
  •       No immediate incentive to switch. There’s also no immediate incentive to switch. For most people, using a bidet for the first time is a bit uncomfortable, since they don’t know what to expect from the experience. Most of the benefits of using this alternative cleaning device only reveal themselves after repeated use.
  •       Status quo bias. Status quo bias is an emotional bias that incentivizes people to stick with whatever they know. You probably experienced this to some degree in your own life; you may resist a potentially positive change simply because you want things to stay the way they are. If you’ve used toilet paper since you were a kid, the benefits of a bidet probably aren’t very persuasive to you; you just want to keep doing what you’ve done your entire life.

Can We Make the Switch?

So can New York make the switch away from toilet paper? And will the rest of the United States be able to follow suit? It’s hard to say for sure, but bidets are slowly gaining recognition and momentum in our society. As these devices become more available and more affordable, it’s only a matter of time before more people start using them. That said, status quo bias is strong, and toilet paper may remain the norm for many years to come.