Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Biffy and other Environmental Considerations

Have you heard of this before? If you aren't familiar with it, check out their informational, if cheesy website. I first learned about it from my friend Nora and then was able to check it out in person when I visited her recently.

Up until recently, my prior experiences with bidet-like products were limited to fancy bathrooms in hotels/homes in Europe and also in China, where a small hose was located close to many non-toilet type toilets. Without getting too personal, I had always wondered why the Western world was happy with just toilet paper. I mean, how can you really get clean with dry paper? I had sensed that many Americans were a little squeamish about bidets, often hearing them used as foot tubs or as the brunt of jokes. I've since learned that much of the Muslim world is equipped with washing devices near the toilet too.

In a nutshell, I was thoroughly impressed with the Biffy. Nora's husband Jon swore to me that the hookup of the biffy took mere minutes and that even their 4-year-old son was capable of "biffying" himself. Himself? Impressive. This I had to introduce to my boys.

[I can't believe I'm blogging about this... YIKES!]

The premise of the contraption is simple. A small device is attached to the left side of the underside of your toilet seat. You attach a small hose to the water input for your toilet, which attaches to the device. When you are ready to use it, simply make sure you sit back on the seat, then push back the lever. While you do this, another lever swings into the toilet area, squirting water upwards to do the rinsing for you. There's a little switch on the handle that can be used to adjust the pressure from a trickle to a gushing geyser. The directions say you can "pat or tamp dry," I suppose using toilet paper or a towel saved specifically for this purpose. To each their own on this one... but I have heard of households who save a lot of money on their toilet paper bills with this little guy.

We ordered a biffy for ourselves and for an unnamed local friend (people's toileting habits should remain private, right? Except for those of us willing to share to the world in the name of promoting a cool product, eh?) My brother-in-law helped me hook it up while our collective five children watched. Expecting that it would be a great interest to all of them, particularly the mischievous 3 and 4 year olds, we carefully explained that it was not a toy, that it was only for helping themselves stay clean and fresh smelling.

Ten minutes later Carl came running down the stairs yelling, "Mom, they're squirting the ceiling!"

"The ceiling?" I wondered aloud.

As I reached the bathroom, I saw two wet boys running out, dripping with water, soaked all the way through. I couldn't help but smile when I looked up and saw a circle on the ceiling of where the hyper-powered Biffy had been squirting. Wow. The floor? At least an inch of standing water. Definitely funny the first time, but I worried about future damage to our tin ceilings in the kitchen below. A short, calm lecture followed about the importance of using it only post-potty time and not for other uses. My threat of removing the biffy must have worked.... no more incidents, just proud, fresh smelling boys.

On another note, many folks out in the blogosphere have been taking note of things they can do to help out during the rough financial times we're facing now, both to help their pocketbooks and become more green. Eren has a list of what her family is doing for their own stimulus package. Here's another website dedicated to being greener and living more simply.

Here's a list of a few of things we're doing:

1. Square foot gardening again this summer... this time, we're not letting the compost-planted pumpkins take over.

2. Joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)-- essentially a farm you become a member of and receive a crate of the recent pickings every week May-October. The one we're joining has GOATS and I can buy raw milk for cheese making. Stay tuned.

3. Cloth napkins. I keep a basket of them in the dining room and each person has a wooden napkin ring (made by my dad and decorated by the each family member). We use the napkins until they're dirty enough to wash, then toss into the laundry. Guests get clean ones, of course.

4. Reparing holes in jeans. Lots of jeans piling up here, so today I went to the fabric store to buy patches. Lots and LOTS of them.

5. Bar soap vs. Liquid soap. Think about the packaging necessary for liquid soap vs. bar. All that plastic... for what? We still have some fancy Bath & Body Works stuff for guests, but as soon as our supply runs out, we're headed to the bar.

Many more green things happening here, but that's the subject for another post. In the meantime, what are YOU doing to save money and/or live more simply?

[For those of you still wondering about the biffy... it self-cleans. Yes, indeedy. I wonder if it could be trained to fold laundry too?!?


Julie said...

Hi Jenn,

I have been making my own laundry detergent for a while now. It is really easy to make and it really works well.

Jack and I just came in from working in our container garden. We now have 7 Earth Boxes, various plastic and spanish pots and we are trying a new thing called a smart pot for some strawberries. Funny how you are getting rid of your pumpkins! We are going to plant them in our front flower garden because I figure that the pumpkins will be nice decorations in the fall and I prefer edible landscaping and so do the boys, the dog, the neighborhood kids and the neighbors. :)

Take care!

noradawn said...

Once you go Biffy you can never go back!

Stephanie said...

I wish I could get a Biffy here!

Hmmm, what do I do to go green these days? My two hour, 2 km commute in my Toyota Prado certainly is increasing my carbon footprint. So is the constant generator use....and the lack of recycling facilities for my wine and water bottles...

shoot. I lose this one.

Tricia said...

Hi Jenn! Thanks for the intro to the Biffy. As we are finishing our basement we're on the search for an eco-friendly toilet. After reading your blurb on the Biffy, we may have to take it into consideration!

As far as lowering our carbon footprint our most recent changes have been to install two rainbarrels to catch water from the rooftop and cloth diapers. We also have a compost bin, veggie garden, my hubby carpools with 2 others, etc. We keep finding do-able ways to change and it's not that hard!

Take care!