Smart technology has become an everyday part of our lives, often whether we like it or not. However, despite all the ways we have welcomed smart technology, smart toilets are still approached with caution by many people. Although smart toilets are, admittedly, a costly addition smart addition to any family home or public bathroom, there may be factors other than price inhibiting their demand in the west.
Cultural differences may have had an impact on the popularity of smart toilets outside of the Asian market. Japan, for example, is well known for its smart toilets, with over 70% of homes owning one. In the west, however, smart toilets still seem perplexing to many of us, and those that have had the opportunity use one – whether in Japan or elsewhere – often seem bemused by them.
Whether it’s the self-lifting seats, the concept of being cleaned by a water jet rather than toilet paper or even having to navigate a remote control while doing your business, it seems there is still doubt surrounding this technology.
However, with ‘efficiency’ slowly becoming many people’s favorite word, smart toilets could be a worthwhile investment – even if they might take a little getting used to.
Reducing water waste
For many households, water efficiency is not just an environmental issue. For those who have chosen to switch to a water meter as opposed to paying a flat rate, saving water wherever possible is a priority. Smart toilets assess how much water is needed to flush every single time, using as little as 0.6 gallons of water compared to the 1.6 gallons used by a standard toilet.
However, the benefits of this technology extend further than just individual households. More and more companies are making eco-friendly business models a priority, and investing in smart toilets is an easy way to integrate environmentally friendly practices into the workplace. The amount of water flushed in a restaurant or public washroom, for example, is considerably higher than in a single household. Installing toilets that save water for you without any additional effort could be a great investment for companies and washrooms looking to be environmentally conscious.
Deforestation has been an environmental issue for many years, but the fact that regular toilets are contributing significantly to the number of trees that are cut down is often glossed over. A shocking 270,000 trees are either flushed or dumped in landfills every single day, and 10% of that number is thanks to toilet paper.
Because smart toilets use adjustable water jets (or bidets) in order to ‘clean up’, toilet paper is no longer an essential item in the bathroom. Even if some people do not feel comfortable with relying solely on the bidet, the amount of toilet paper used after being cleaned by a bidet is significantly reduced.
Additionally, the production of toilet paper also contributes significantly to water waste, as it takes 37 gallons of water in order to create just one roll of toilet paper. Although it may seem counterintuitive to save water by cleaning ourselves with a bidet, the volume of water needed by a bidet is simply not comparable to that of toilet paper production. Many smart toilets also designed with a sink built into the top that also fills up the cistern. This means that the water you use to wash your hands will be recycled to later flush the toilet.
Wet wipes have also been an environmental hot topic in recent years as the public awareness of plastic pollution has become greater. The flushing of wet wipes down the toilet (or the prolonged use of them in general) is simply not sustainable. Wet wipes are said to make up 93% of the material that causes sewage blockages, costing £100 million a year. Because bidets essentially fulfill the same function as a wet wipe, this can considerably lessen the burden that wet wipes are having on the environment.
The Hygienic benefits of smart toilets
Bidets are a function of smart toilets that can seem a little unusual (even invasive) for a society so used to using toilet paper. However, using water to clean parts of the body that is dirty is a natural instinct in any other situation, so why should a trip to the bathroom be any different?
By using toilet paper and wet wipes when going to the bathroom, we can cause irritation as well as an increased risk of infection. This is particularly true for women (especially those having just given birth, who may still be very sensitive), who can have an increased risk of urinary tract infections from spreading bacteria. In fact, a nursing home in Melbourne conducted a six-month study using smart toilets to try and reduce the number of UTIs; within six weeks there were no more cases.
Rinsing with water rather than creating unnecessary friction to sensitive areas of the body is simply far more hygienic. The bidet cleans at the same depth that a shower or a bath would and does not have any of the health risks associated with cleaning methods such as douching, which can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria.
How can a smart toilet improve your life?
Smart toilets are a still a luxury for many people, even though they can help save money as well as provide a more eco-friendly lifestyle. However, for some, smart toilets can be and have been life-changing.
The impact of smart toilet technology can especially be seen with regards to the experiences of people with disabilities. In some cases, smart toilets have changed people’s lives by offering them newfound independence in their day-to-day lives. For example, a smart toilet distributor in Australia has described the impact a smart toilet made on a man who had lost both his arms in an accident and needed his wife’s continuous help in order to use the bathroom. He describes the customer as ‘changed man’ because of his newfound independence and confidence in the simplest of daily tasks.
Elderly people are also likely to benefit from the ease of use that a smart toilet provides. For example, many elderly people may find it difficult to bend over in order to lift a toilet lid, and cannot wipe themselves properly due to similar mobility issues. Using a smart toilet eliminates these issues and can help to improve someone’s standard of living, especially in places with a high volume of people suffering from mobility issues, such as nursing homes, hospitals, and doctors surgeries.
Is a smart toilet a worthwhile investment?
Just like home assistants, smart toilets will likely make their way into the mainstream and become more affordable in the near future. Even though the western market may still approach this technology with a certain amount of skepticism, smart toilets have the potential, both in the home and in public spaces, to improve people’s health as well as the environment.
The ‘hands-free’ nature of a smart toilet makes it revolutionary for people with disabilities, or even mothers potty training their toddlers. The far more hygienic process of cleaning oneself with water as opposed to paper has already helped those prone to infections that are often caused by something as simple as bacteria build up. And in our growing consciousness of water waste and the negative impact on products such as wet wipes being flushed down the toilet, the smart toilets are capable of reducing environmental strain on multiple levels.