International Toilet Paper Day, August 26, there is new awareness worldwide, that the Indian way is better, more hygienic.
Bangalore, August 26 2017: Modern toilet paper is widely credited to its inventor Joseph Gayetty who introduced 'Gayetty's Medicated Paper" in the US, in 1857. The product was a sold as a packet of flat sheets. It was available in roll form for the first time on August 26 1871 -- which is why today, August 26, marks International Toilet Paper Day.
However the first US patent for rolled toilet paper with the dispenser, was issued 12 years later, in 1883 to Seth Wheeler and the solution has remained unchanged since then. But things are changing.
Ironically on Toilet Paper Day, this year, a leading global maker of sanitary fittings -- Grohe -- says: “Washing instead of wiping, is now the new motto for the most intimate area of personal care. This new way of thinking ...is changing the world." The company traces the history of sanitary cleaning and shows that the use of water is something that dates back to the Middle Ages and was always practiced by Asian civilisations. Even today, in Japan 80% of toilets facilitate wet washing. Grohe is helping the push from wipe to wash, with what it calls Shower Toiletswhich offer a spray and air drying feature. It can even be operated through a mobile phone app
See our picture story on toilet technology in the Image of the Day section
Indians don't need to be told that washing is the way to go. This is the country that has in recent decades, embraced the hand operated toilet spray -- and by their sheer numbers, Indians have persuaded many hotels and public places all over South East Asia to install hand sprays in addition to toilet paper dispensers. All western toilets in Singapore's Changi airport are fitted with hand sprays. I happened to check in, just a few days after a brand new 4-star hotel- The Park- near Farrer Park, opened in Singapore in May this year. Situated in Little India, the hotel depended on India-based guests for sustained traffic. Mr Halil, manning the front desk told me that one of the USPs of The Park was that it had fitted hand sprays in all the bathrooms -- so that Indian guests would be comfortable. Sadly most 5 star hotels in India have not changed with the times and still fit their toilets only with paper rolls. Among Western nations, France long ago embraced wet washing; indeed the bidet is a fixture in every French hotel bathroom.
Korea pioneered the electronic bidet where the wet wash concept is taken to luxury levels and a console alongside the toilet seat offer various options like warm, cold, rinse, spray etc., deodorize etc. Now this is standard in Japan where the console has bilingual tags and instructions. Such advanced wet cleaning systems have now come to India and on e-Bay or Amazon you can order a range of high tech toilet seats starting from Rs 16,000 and going up to the 'Ultimate IntelliSeat Bidet"' for Rs 1.27 lakhs.
The Swachh Bharat initiative has given a fillip to e-toilets. But the credit for designing India's first public e-toilet with automatic cleaning may go to Thiruvananthapuram -based Eram Scientific Solutions and their kiosks have been ordered in large numbers by many aspirants to Smart City status in India.
Grohe says in a release timed for today: "More and more consumers are abandoning old practices and giving up toilet paper. And it’s for a good reason – since the most natural cleaning agent of all is water. And not only is it more hygienic but it is also gentler to the skin."
As the world wakes to this new awareness that, wet is best, Indian's can be pardoned if they are 'flushed' with the success ( and recognition) of their way of "doing it".
- ANAND PARTHASARATHY