• Shona McCarthy

Asian Butt-Bucket: A Way Around The Toilet Paper Crisis?

(I wish I could say this was my toilet. But this is a stock image from Unsplash, used with permission. 2020.)

Warning: If you are uncomfortable with vague allusions to toilet activities, this is not the post to for you. I'm more than happy for you to seek other reading materials. If you want to learn new ways of saving toilet paper, read on.

_~@ Why Does This Post Exist? @~_ It's become world news now that various regions are going through a unique struggle. Many are scrambling to gather resources from mainstream supermarkets, fearful that if trade closes with China due to Covid-19 concerns, they will no longer be able to get the things they need. In particular, people have been physically fighting each other for one particular resource: toilet paper.

I believe that part of the reason there has been so much consternation over this matter is that most people in Australia don't see any alternative. In some ways I've found these concerns quite understandable. Fecal matter is the most biohazardous and bacterially active substance that humans produce.

While some are contented to make old bedsheets into reusable toilet paper, I find this to be a worrying solution. Reusable items need to be very carefully cleaned in order to be reusable. So, it can be understood why most cultures around the world have adopted the disposable option. However, when I saw some friends start posting photos of buckets and plastic ladles with captions to the effect of, "I don't see why this toilet paper crisis is such a big deal!" I got a little excited. "What if I could figure out how to master such a system? Then I would never need to worry about buying TP again and I could focus on helping others right now!"

Or better yet, I could show people some way of coping without TP. 'Cause if you give someone a roll, they wipe for a day. But if you teach someone to clean themselves with no roll, they'll wipe for life.

(Taken by me, 2020.)

_~@ Finding The Butt Ladle @~_ As I wandered around Springvale the other day, looking for reusable masks and toilet paper, I also kept an eye open for one of those special little butt ladles. I soon found one at a $2 store in Springvale Central Shopping Centre. And it really did only cost $2! I was very happy with that! When I got it home, I filled up a large bucket with water, placed the butt ladle in it and then placed it in my bathroom, waiting for nature to call. But I was somewhat nervous about this process since I could imagine many ways it could go wrong. So, finally, I decided to do a "dry run", no pun intended.

(Taken by me, 2020. Those who know I make, sell and use reusable pads might be surprised to see disposables in this image. Sadly, my mother has not converted to my system.)

_~@ The Experiments @~_ My Google searches of "Asian Butt Ladle" and "Asian Butt Bucket" or even "Clean your butt with water" didn't present me with any useful results. So, I first tried scooching back on the toilet seat and pouring the water over the *ahem* front of me. The water was so shockingly cold I gasped. But I was unable to angle myself in such a way that the water could actually do any meaningful cleaning. So then I tried scooching forward on the seat as much as I could and pouring the water over my backside. While my cold tolerance was much better back there, the massive mounds of buttock I have prevented the water from reaching... the places of note. So I tried leaning even further forward, till my left hand was on the ground before me. Still, the water poured was unable to make meaningful contact. I still wonder if someone flatter than me would manage.

Knowing it might mean getting water all over the place, but wanting to really be sure, I filled the ladle with a much larger amount of water and poured it over my butt with greater force. As I expected, the water went all over the seat and on the floor, with some going down my trouser leg. But still, cleanliness could not be achieved. As I told my brother, the only way I could pour the water onto the desired locations would be if I was down on all fours. And then I would have the problem of the water going in many more directions, taking my leavings with it.

As I sat on the toilet, in an odd case of coincidence, a friend of mine commented on my Facebook, saying that they used to use the butt ladle method, but that they got sick of having a stinky hand in need of constant cleaning. With much horror I realised that it isn't the ladle that does the cleaning... and then I realised I was now indirectly acquainted with an aspect of daily human experience that could rival the works of Kafka in darkness, both literal and figurative. It was immediately clear to me that there were a world of problems with this concept. If you do use your hand, how do you open the door and get to the sink without anyone seeing what you've done? And the faucet of the tap... you're touching that too... And if I did ever use my hand, I'm not sure I could live knowing that I had. It took me about 14 years to look directly at my lower half, nevermind clean it with less than a meter of toilet paper wrapped around my hand. To use my hand in the correct butt-bucket manner for me might mean amputation or rehabilitation. No, I'd use a crumpled up Reject Shop catalog a thousand times before I'd ever willingly go there. The hand wiping, not the Reject Shop.

Once I had properly cleaned myself with the available TP and butt wipes, and my pants were returned to position, I squatted before my toilet, studying the puddle my experiments had made. There I considered the options I could suggest to people on TP alternatives.

(Water all over my toilet seat. Water all over my floor. Taken by me, 2020.)

_~@ TP Alternatives You Could Consider @~_

The first thought I had was that water can work if you eliminate the problem of gravity. I'd used Japanese toilets before with a built-in bidet. But to buy one would further financially cripple me. So, a more likely candidate I'm considering is heading to Daiso or something like it and buying a sauce bottle I can fill with water and shoot myself with. While I'm aware that portable bidets exist, I can't be sure that I'll find one. I think a sauce bottle has a sufficiently narrow nozzle that the right water pressure could be achieved. The more obvious answer most people have been discussing is scrap paper. One website I read suggested that old receipts were a particularly good alternative. I've yet to consult a tax agent about this advice.

I've heard leaves being discussed, with banana leaves named as the best option due to their size and texture. But I have no idea where I would find them. Probably Springvale, if I'm honest, but that's neither here nor there if the squirt bottle concept works out.

However, I have found a way of conserving TP that I will share here.

(Here are pictures of my wipes and my TP-Butt Wipe configuration so you can better understand my instructions. I thought about taking more photos of the process with vegemite so that people could better understand what I'm talking about. But I didn't want to scare anyone. Taken by me, 2020.)

_~@ A Way You Could Wipe More Efficiently @~_

I don't know what standard TP use looks like for most people. But for me, I would usually use at least 8 sheets of the dry TP per wipe, fearing that if I go thinner a finger might break through. I'd typically end up wiping about two to ten times per visit, depending on what I'd been eating and how stressed I was. But I have found a way to severely cut back the amount of toilet paper I need and still get properly cleaned. The answer is to buy a pack of butt wipes. These were available in most supermarkets before the hoarding began. But if you can get your hands on these, they will do you a lot of good. They are superior to baby wipes in that butt wipes are flushable and moist, so they clean more carefully than TP. But more importantly, they have better structural integrity and more surface area, meaning that you can do more than just wipe once and discard them. I take one of these wipes and then I place two sheets of standard toilet paper behind it. This is just to give it a little more strength and insurance for the process. Do one initial wipe using the very middle of the butt wipe. Then, carefully scrunch the sheet so that your... residue is fully hidden. If you're too squeamish to even look at your own stuff, I totally understand. I was like that for the first... 16 years of my life. But you'll have to do it if you want to save TP this way. You want to scrunch only just enough to hide the substance, but no more.

Now that you've scrunched, you can wipe again. Then you scrunch again to hide what you've done. If you do this over and over again, you can potentially clean yourself well using nothing but one butt wipe and two sheets of toilet paper. And this is coming from someone who, as you might have guessed, is slightly OCD when it comes to cleanliness, so when I say "clean" I mean it. Till I can find a good bottle, this is the method I'll be sticking with.

(Here is a picture of spinifex paper someone showed me tonight. In your quest for TP alternatives, I suggest avoiding paper with built-in splinters. Taken by me, 2020.)

Help me, Help you!

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