Bathroom Hygiene, Simplified: Meet the Bidet

The Evolution of Clean! #WashDontWipe

For many of us in the western world, the idea of a bidet is a foreign concept—literally. Just saying the word with its silent “T” calls to mind something that may or may not be French, and suddenly you find yourself pondering whether the word refers to a cleaning product or a delicious pastry.

No, a bidet definitely isn’t sweet or delicious, but if you guessed cleaning product, you’re at least on the right track. A bidet is a device or fixture that you use to wash up end after you use the bathroom.  By spraying water from a nozzle or faucet, bidets pick up where toilet paper falls short, helping you feel way more fresh and clean than when using toilet paper alone. And since bidets significantly reduce the amount of toilet paper you use, they’re great for hemorrhoid sufferers, young children who can’t yet wipe themselves, and the environment.

Bidets come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the part of the world you’re in. In places such as the Middle East, Asia, and southern Europe, you’ll find bidets mounted to the wall next to the toilet, similar to a low lying sink. Come to the states, the UK, and Canada, and most bidets are found as a fixture attached to a toilet. Yeah, it all seems kind of wishy-washy at first, but we’ll explain how different types of bidets work, and why they make bathroom hygiene so downright easy.

Wall-Mounted Bidets

Traditionally, bidets came as the low-lying porcelain basins that you’ll find in many parts of Asia and southern Europe. These types of bidets come in different forms, depending on where the water nozzle is located. With some wall-mounted bidets, the water nozzle is at the base of the bidet, and water projects upward when you turn the faucet handle. Other wall-mounted bidets feature a nozzle at the top of the bidet, like a horizontal water faucet. And just like a faucet, you can control the temperature of the water. Talk about refreshing!

These types of bidets require the user to squat down, almost as you would when using a toilet. After using the toilet and wiping, you step over to the bidet, squat halfway, and turn the nozzle to begin washing. Bathrooms with separate bidets usually provide a special towel to dry off afterwards, but if one isn’t available, a little toilet paper gets the job done.

Bidet Toilet Seats

Bidet toilet seats are a great option as they require no additional bathroom space or remodeling work. Consider a toilet seat bidet your one-stop for using the bathroom and cleansing. These bidets are fixtures attach to your toilet so that you can clean-in-place, without having to get up or squat over a separate fixture. Bidet toilet seats can replace your existing toilet seat, while bidet attachments lie just below it.

Some toilet seat bidets are electric and offer a hot water option, while others just use cold water. For example, the Brondell Fresh Spa Easy Bidet Attachment uses a pressurized cold water wash and has an adjustable nozzle that switches to three different positions to reach all areas.

On the other hand, Brondell’s Swash 300 Bidet Toilet Seat has both a hot and a cold water wash, and even features a heated toilet seat for added comfort. The Swash 300 comes with two water nozzles, one for your backside and one for feminine cleansing, giving you the ultimate hygienic experience. It even comes with a wireless remote for easy temperature and water pressure control.

When all is said and done, bidet toilet seats just make bathroom hygiene simple, leaving you fresh and clean without the waste from wipes and toilet paper. Here at Brondell, we understand that bathroom hygiene is a personal preference, which is why we offer a wide range of bidet toilet seats, bidet attachments, and handheld “diaper-sprayer” bidets.  And while you can’t be home all the time, we even offer our GoSpa Travel Bidet, so you can enjoy the refreshing experience of a bidet wherever you go.

All of our products are economical, easy to use, and come with a variety of super sanitary features to meet your preferences and your budget.

From Gully to Glass: How Municipal Water Treatment Works

Tap water- for many of us in the States, it’s one of those givens in life that’s so easy to take for granted.  We shower with it, clean our clothes, cars, and homes with it, and of course, we drink it. Water soaks the earth from rain clouds, fills our local rivers and lakes, and after some mysterious treatment process, gushes from the faucets in our homes. Enough said, right?

But what about that whole mysterious treatment process? We know that water has to be purified in order for us to use and drink it, but did you ever wonder exactly how that muddy water in the stream gets to be the crystal clear liquid in your glass? If so, read on. We’ll break down the whole municipal water treatment process below, without bogging you down with a whole bunch of scientific jargon.

 

Types of Water

The water we use every day is either ground water or surface water. Ground water is typically made up of rain water that seeps through the soil and porous rocks into an underground well. From the well, ground water is pumped into a treatment facility where it’s filtered and sanitized. According to the EPA, about 32% of the people who use municipal water are provided with ground water.

Surface water, on the other hand, comes from our rivers, lakes, and streams.  Since surface water isn’t protected by layers of rocks and soil, it’s exposed to much more pollution than ground water. From its source, surface water either flows or is pumped to a treatment facility for cleaning and filtration.

 

Municipal Water Treatment Process

How water treatment works

On the outside of the treatment plant, large steel bars serve as a sort of pre-filter to keep out large objects, fish, and other solid debris, while allowing water to pass through. If the water is too cloudy or comes from a muddy source, it first goes through pre-sedimentation in order to help a bulk of the sand, silt, soil, and other fine matter settle out.

From pre-sedimentation, the water rapidly whirlpools in a mixing tank for coagulation. Here, a soluble type of salt called alum is added to help the rest of the fine sediments coagulate. Think of alum as the glue that brings all of the tiny gunky stuff together into larger clumps.

After being mixed up with alum, clumps of unwanted sediment begin to form in the water. During flocculation, the solid waste and liquid are mixed at a slightly slower speed. As the water continues to mix in the tank, the solids begin to settle out and are finally caught in a sedimentation basin. While the gunky clumps sink to the bottom of the basin, the water moves on to the filter.

In filtration, water passes through a filter bed of coal known as a carbon filter. Though much of the sediments were left behind in flocculation and sedimentation, filtration helps clarify the water and catch any soil and clay that didn’t coagulate.

After the water is filtered, it’s pumped to a clear well, where the water is disinfected with small amounts of chlorine in order to remove harmful microbes and bacteria from the water. Once the water is disinfected, it’s held in a reservoir, before finally being distributed to your home. Ta da!

Does municipal water treatment remove all unwanted pollution?

While water treatment is a fairly intensive process, it doesn’t remove all of the pollution and chemicals found in surface and ground water. The main reason for this is that many of the United States’ municipal water treatment facilities are aging. At any point in time some of the equipment may be in need of repair or replacement. But here at Brondell, we take water filtration even further with all of our superior water filtration products, featuring a three-stage filtration process to ensure the safest and freshest tasting water possible.

Our Cypress Countertop Water Filtration System uses our patented Nanotrap technology to remove pesticides, industrial waste, and other chemicals that typically pass through municipal water treatment. It’s simple to install, and comes with an ergonomic push button for easy dispensing. And unlike other water filters, Cypress’s slim and sleek design makes it an excellent addition to any kitchen décor, without cluttering up your counters.

 

 

Hemorrhoids Happen: Why They Develop and How to Deal

It starts with itching and irritation after using the bathroom, and you’re not sure what caused it or why you have it. It could have been something you ate, or it could have been that uncomfortable toilet seat you used the other day. But no matter what caused this pain, the fact is that hemorrhoids simply happen- especially if you’re pregnant or over the age of 50.

Additionally, the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse mentions that nearly 3 out of 4 people develop hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. But while these numbers make hemorrhoids seem like an inevitable part of life, the good news is that they’re actually easy to avoid. We’ll explain what causes hemorrhoids, as well as a few tips on how to deal with them when they develop.

What exactly are hemorrhoids?

To put it simply, a hemorrhoid is an inflammation of the veins in the lower rectum or near the anus. External hemorrhoids are those that occur near the anus, while internal hemorrhoids are those that occur in the lower rectum. Hemorrhoids often aren’t very severe at the onset, and few will notice them until symptoms become worse.

Symptoms of hemorrhoids include bleeding and minor irritation, and pain can become worse if a blood clot forms on an external hemorrhoid, or when an internal hemorrhoid extends through the anus. Severe symptoms can cause infection, and treating them requires medical attention.

How do hemorrhoids happen?

Hemorrhoids usually develop as a result of excessive straining when using the bathroom. When we strain, blood flow to and from the anus is disrupted, causing vessels to bulge and become inflamed.  Additionally, the pressure of restraining a bowel movement, or the increased pressure caused by diarrhea or constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids.

Why nutrition matters

When you look at the common causes of hemorrhoids, the keys to avoiding them is all about keeping your digestive system happy with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Since fiber helps move waste through the digestive system, you should increase your fiber intake if you often experience constipation. Some high-fiber foods include:

  • Pears, apples, carrots, oranges
  • Oatmeal
  • Kale, collard greens, spinach
  • Brown rice, whole wheat pasta, bulgur wheat
  •  Raisins, grapes, and prunes

Constipation also occurs when the body isn’t hydrated enough, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Unfortunately, too many sugary drinks or foods, like soda and baked sweets often have the reverse effect, so it’s always a good idea to avoid these foods and drinks entirely, or at least keep them to a minimum to reduce the likelihood of diarrhea.

More ways to avoid and treat hemorrhoids

If you notice any symptoms of hemorrhoids, it is always recommended to call your doctor. In the meantime though, try using a hemorrhoid cream to relieve irritation.

It’s important to keep in mind that elimination is a natural process, so when you use the bathroom, be sure to take your time, as straining only makes symptoms worse. Excessive wiping can also cause hemorrhoids, so one of the best ways to avoid hemorrhoids is by cutting back on toilet paper use with an at-home bidet.

At-home bidets come in all shapes and sizes, but few are as comforting and economical as the Brondell Swash 300 Toilet Seat Bidet. The Swash 300 attaches to your toilet seat, featuring a warm water wash that’s incredibly soothing for hemorrhoid suffers. It comes with two nozzles for posterior and feminine cleansing, and even includes a remote control that allows you to adjust the seat and water temperatures to your liking.

The Bottled Water Problem

From the office to the gym, bottled water is all around us. And while we fill our shopping carts with cases of it every week, it turns out that bottled water actually isn’t as safe or eco-friendly as we once thought. So to help you provide the safest drinking water for your family and reduce your carbon footprint, we’ve broken down the truth on the bottled water problem.

The cost factor

Most of us buy bottled water by the case, typically for about $5 for 24 bottles- a small price to pay for the peace of mind in knowing that you’re providing healthy water for your family. Even at $1.69 for a 16 oz. single serve bottle, your healthy physique is worth paying a little extra for a bottle of H2O.

But when you look at how much Americans spend on bottled water- about $1.22 per gallon annually, you’ll find that bottled water costs us about 300 times more than tap water ($.004 per gallon). Business Insidernotes that out of the 9.7 billion gallons of bottled water we consume each year, 64% is made up of single serve bottles. And when you do the math with those figures, the cost of a 16.9 ounce bottle of water is about $7.50 per gallon.

The markup on bottled water is completely ridiculous and shows no sign of correcting itself!

 

Why bottled water isn’t so eco-friendly

Though more bottlers are using less plastic than ever before, bottled water is still tough on the environment, for a variety of reasons.

  • While recycling rates are on the rise, only 38% of plastic water bottles are actually recycled, while the other 62% ends up in landfills across the U.S.
  • Through cleaning and manufacturing, the bottling process uses 3 liters of water for every 1 liter bottled.
  • Plastic bottle production in 2006 was responsible for emitting over 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air. To put it in a more modern perspective, bottled water consumption is consistently on the rise every year, increasing by 6.7% in 2012.

 

Is bottled water still purer than tap water?

Not really. Though water sold as purified water goes through intensive filtration processes, these processes don’t remove everything, according to a 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group. Researchers tested 10 different brands of bottled water from across the U.S., and found multiple contaminants in each of the brands, including fertilizer, medical byproducts, plastic byproducts, and caffeine. Yikes!

 

So where do I find the safest drinking water for my family?

Surprisingly, the safest drinking water comes right from your tap. However, the Environmental Working Group recommends filtering your tap water with an in-home water filter. Every locality has different types of water, calling for different types of treatment processes, so reach out to your local water service to learn about what type of chemicals are used to purify your water, and how you can remove them.

Keep in mind though, not all water filters are the same, and few are as effective and affordable as Brondell Water Filtration Products. From our H2O+ Water Pitcher Filter to our Cypress Countertop Filtration System, all three of our water filtration systems use advanced filtration technology to remove disinfectants, pesticides, and other unwanted chemicals present in your tap water. They’re super easy to use and install, each made with a sleek space-saving design that flows with any kitchen décor. And to help you reduce your carbon footprint, Brondell filtration systems use no electricity, giving you the freshest and safest water possible from the comfort of your home.

 

The Last Drop: Staving Off a Water Crisis

Back in January, California governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in his state, appealing to citizens to lower their water consumption by 20%.

Fast forward 6 months to see that residents have trimmed their water usage by…a paltry 5%. The epidemic is so severe that California lawmakers just approved fines up to $500 for wasting water. Yet throughout the state, sprinklers are still being set and cars are still being washed.

Sadly, it’s a common tale, and not just in California. It’s not that residents intentionally turn a deaf ear, oftentimes, it’s that they don’t think their usage is significant enough to make an impact or don’t know what changes to make or how.

But experts warn that a scarcity crisis could occur if Americans don’t change how they use water. And a recent paper published by the PNAS showed that Americans use twice the amount of water than they think they do, further solidifying the fact that many of us have misconceptions about our own water use.

Our water usage statistics are shocking. Americans use around 99 gallons of water a day, and the electricity used to power other activities adds up to be an additional 250 gallons a day. This pie chart from the EPA breaks down exactly how we’re using water:

What Needs To Happen?

On a legislative level, cities and states need to reevaluate how they use water. Orlando, Florida, recognized that they would need increased water services to meet the needs of farmers as well as corporations, so they expanded wastewater treatment. Their integrated water reclamation program provides reclaimed water for crop irrigation. In Texas, grants are being administered for desalination, aquifer storage and recovery, and rainwater harvesting. And Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles—all cities which get their water from the Colorado River—are piloting a program that pays farmers, industries and municipalities for decreasing usage.

This interview from NPR showcases a high-tech solution happening in the Silicon Valley, using state-of-the art water filtration. The interesting approach? The water comes from a wastewater treatment plant from across the street. This recycled water won’t be for consumption, however, but for other uses.

Here, Drink A Nice Glass of Sparkling Clear Wastewater

What Can I Do Now?

Many believe that it’s out-of-the-box thinking that can stave off a crisis. So, in addition to supporting legislature that would support innovative conservation efforts, what are some creative ways we can save water on an everyday basis?

  • Make it a habit to never pour water down the drain. Instead, use it to fill dog’s bowls or water plants.
  • Lower your home’s water pressure. A family of four can save about 20,000 gallons of water per year if they replace their showerheads with 4.5 gallon a minute models.
  • Try low-flush toilets. Toilets alone account for 40% of our indoor water use. Low-flush toilets only use 1.6 gallons of water or less, compared to conventional models which use up to 5 gallons.
  • Only run your dishwasher when it’s full.
  • Water your lawn as little as possible. When you do, do so in the early morning hours to avoid evaporation.
  • Find a car wash that uses recycled water. A 10-minute car wash uses about 100 gallons of water, so finding a spot that’s committed to conservation makes a difference.

When it comes to conserving water on day-to-day level, think small. Small changes, that is, that can lead to a big overall impact.

 

The Gift He’s Always Wanted: A Bidet for Father’s Day

Let’s get right to the point here- backside hygiene isn’t something many of us guys like to talk about, though it’s always in the back of our minds. As any guy will tell you, a clean rear end equals confidence, and when you feel clean, there’s just no stopping you. But with the personal nature of hygiene, how many guys feel comfortable asking their spouses to buy a bidet?

Bidets are definitely an unworldly concept here in the U.S., but the fact of the matter is that the bidet trumps toilet paper and flushable wipes on multiple levels.  For starters, bidets are exponentially more eco-friendly than using T.P. and wipes. Secondly, the level of clean you get from a bidet is the next best thing to taking a shower after you go #2 (not that anyone does that, right?).

Lastly, bidets are great for people who suffer from hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s Disease, by eliminating the irritation caused by toilet paper use. When you consider the usefulness of a bidet, it’s safe to say that bidets are the one great gift that Dad never realized he wanted. So with Father’s Day coming up, we decided to highlight a few of Brondell’s super refreshing bidets that the father in your life will love.

Swash 1000 Advanced Bidet Seat

 

Swash Advanced Bidet Toilet Seat. Available in three electric and one non-electric model, the Swash has gradually become a favorite in homes across the U.S. While many Europeans are accustomed to the traditional stand-alone bidet, the Swash attaches directly to your toilet seat to give you a soothing cold or warm water wash at the simple push of a button. With prices starting at $179, the Swash is more than worth the investment, which by the way, is easily covered by the money you’ll save from not having to buy toilet paper.

FreshSpa Easy Bidet

 

FreshSpa Easy Bidet Attachment. If you’re not ready to fully commit to the bidet toilet seat, take the FreshSpa Easy Bidet for a spin. Like the Swash, the FreshSpa attaches to your existing toilet, but has a self-cleaning retractable nozzle that you can set in three different positions. It’s incredibly easy to set up as well, uses no batteries or electricity, and you can adjust the water pressure to your liking.

Brondell FreshSpa Dual Temperature Bidet

FreshSpa Dual Temperature Bidet. The FreshSpa Dual Temperature Bidet is like the Easy Bidet, except that it comes with a brass pressure connector that connects to your hot water source. You can also adjust the temperature of the water for maximum comfort. It was even recently featured on The TODAY Show.

CleanSpa Luxury Hand Held Bidet

 

With the CleanSpa Luxury Hand Held Bidet, cleanliness is in the palm of your hand. This stainless steel hand sprayer works with any toilet fixture, and even comes with a handy holster that easily mounts to the wall or toilet. Like all Brondell products, the CleanSpa is super easy to install, and is made with only the most durable brass and stainless steel fittings, so you don’t have to worry about leaks.

 

 

Brondell GoSpa Travel Bidet

GoSpa Travel Bidet. Once Dad starts using the Swash, CleanSpa, or FreshSpa, he’ll never want to go #2 anywhere else. But with the GoSpa Travel Bidet, Dad can have a refreshing experience wherever he goes. The GoSpa features a 400mL reservoir and an ergonomic soft squeeze bottle, great for arthritis sufferers. It even comes with a discreet carrying bag and an easy-to-store nozzle for convenient portability.

 

No matter which of these fantastic products you decide to go with, you just can’t go wrong with Brondell for Father’s Day. They’re hygienic and safe, perfect for helping Dad feel fresh and clean all day long!

All Moms Want for Mother’s Day is to Pee in Peace

Before Children, women often don’t think about the time they spend behind the closed doors of a bathroom. They simply understand it as nature intended.

It’s only After Children that you begin to view your bathroom habits as a privilege rather than a right. When you have a newborn, their schedule becomes your schedule. They have no concept that you need to use the toilet—because they need to eat now! Right now! Suddenly, their nature trumps your nature.

As your baby grows into a delightful toddler and you find yourself trying to steal a few minutes of time to use the bathroom, she remains completely oblivious to your need to urinate in private. You close the door, but it doesn’t matter. Doors, to quote author Derek Landy, are for people with no imagination. Your toddler will simply continue to carry on her one-sided conversation, despite the fact that you haven’t responded with anything more sophisticated than “hmm-mm.”

She will then ask if you can open the door so she can join you. You can refuse, but trust me—she will find a way to get in. You know that 2 inch space between the floor and the bottom of the door? Why, that’s just the right size for a chubby toddler fist to reach through.

So let’s be honest—all Mom really wants for Mother’s Day is a chance to pee in peace. Rather than give her flowers or chocolates, give her something that will help maximize the very few moments she takes each day when she heeds nature’s call. A bidet system is akin to giving her a daily spa experience—right in her very own home.

Previously relegated to Asian and European markets, bidet sales in the United States have grown steadily in recent years. It seems that Americans are catching on to the comforts and health benefits bidets provide, as well as the environmentally sound aspect (since bidet users don’t need toilet paper).

No need to do a full remodeling project on your bathroom; you can buy bidet toilet seats that go right on your existing toilet!

5 Reasons Every Mom Needs a Bidet System:

Reason #1: Hemorrhoids

There are so many wonderful, secret aspects of pregnancy that no one shares ahead of time, aren’t there? You imagine your significant other gazing into your eyes adoringly while rubbing your swollen belly, dreaming about the Nobel Prize winner you’re busily growing inside you. What you don’t foresee are the hemorrhoids the size of grapes now taking up residence in your rectum.

Yes, hemorrhoids are one of those dirty little secrets no one lets you in on until it’s too late. Unfortunately, you’re more prone to this uncomfortable (and sometimes, truly painful) condition during pregnancy because your growing uterus puts pressure on your pelvic veins.

More bad news on this front: postpartum hemorrhoids are also incredibly common, especially if you did a lot of pushing during labor. For many women, these can last up to 6-9 months post-birth.

However, a bidet can greatly help to heal hemorrhoids. This is because instead of wiping with harsh toilet paper, which can be abrasive, a bidet uses warm water to rinse the rectal area. The warm and gentle spray can help an area that’s already inflamed and swollen. In addition, the lack of wiping can keep new hemorrhoids from appearing, and it keeps the area clean.

Reason #2: Constipation

Constipation is another uncomfortable issue many mothers face. For pregnant women, it occurs because of the increase in the hormone progesterone. This relaxes muscles throughout the body, making it slower for food to pass through the body.

For many mothers, constipation doesn’t end with the arrival of that bouncing baby. Complaints about constipation are 2-3 times more common in women than men, and it’s an ailment that some will deal with for years to come.

A bidet can help relieve constipation because the warm water helps relax and loosen the anal area, so bowel movements are easier.

Reason #3: Feminine Hygiene

As if you didn’t have enough to deal with as a mom, there are also often feminine issues to deal with, such as vaginal infections. Oftentimes moms are so busy they delay a trip to the gynecologist’s office even if something doesn’t feel right “down there.”

A bidet can actually help stop vaginal issues before they start. Sometimes the culprit behind bacterial infections is fecal matter which accidentally enters the vaginal opening.

By using a bidet, you rid the area of all that “nasty stuff” much better than using paper would, so you lower the risk of infection.

Reason #4: Urinary Tract and Bladder Infections

Haven’t read enough about feces yet? (C’mon, you’re a mom – after changing a thousand diapers, there’s no longer anything about feces that makes you uncomfortable.) Well, the fecal matter issue we referred to above can also aid in the development of bladder and urinary tract infections.

A bidet can prevent that bacteria from entering the vaginal opening, decreasing your risk of developing one of these infections.

Reason #5: It Gives Mom a Lovely, Spa-Like Experience

In addition to providing solutions for the health concerns listed above, Brondell’s Swash advanced bidet toilet seats are the Porsche of potties. (And doesn’t Mom deserve the very best this Mother’s Day?!) With 4 models ranging from economically priced to luxury, the Swash provides an unparalleled bathroom experience.

FreshSpa Easy Bidet Attachment

Features of The Swash advanced bidet toilet seats:

  • Warm water wash
  • Wireless remote control
  • Adjustable heated seat
  • Warm air dryer
  • And more!

Brondell’s Swash bidet toilet seats can make those stolen moments of solitude last the whole day. Doesn’t Mom deserve to not only pee in peace—but in luxury? Which Swash is right for me?

What is the EPA?

The Environmental Protection Agency was created on December 2, 1970 when President Richard Nixon signed an executive order to reorganize all of the nation’s environmental activities under one agency. Headquartered in Washington, D.C. with 10 regional offices, its mission is “to protect human health and the environment based on the best available scientific information” by identifying and solving environmental problems. Although the EPA is responsible for regulating all aspects of the environment (i.e. water, land, and air), this blog post will focus on the EPA’s efforts with respect to drinking water.

Water quality has been an issue since the beginning of civilization. In the past, people used their own senses to determine whether water was safe to drink. We now know that’s extremely dangerous, but it wasn’t until 1855, when Dr. John Snow proved that cholera was a waterborne illness, did people begin to understand that water needs more than a visual inspection before consumption. As doctors and scientists learned more about the dangers lurking in drinking water, focus was placed mostly on bacteriological quality. Then, with the rise of industrialization, concern grew around monitoring the chemical runoff from various manufacturing plants and facilities as well. Local communities attempted to address these concerns, but several nation-wide studies conducted by Congress found widespread discrepancies in water quality, ultimately demonstrating the need for federal regulation.

The most important legislation is the Safe Drinking Water Act, established in 1974, which protects drinking water and its sources (e.g. rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and groundwater wells). It sets the legal limits of certain naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants that can be found in drinking water, regulates the testing methods and schedules of the over 160,000 public water treatment facilities in the United States, and ensures that water is properly treated during transportation. The 86 contaminants the EPA regulates fall into a handful of categories – microorganisms (e.g. animal and human waste), organic chemicals (e.g. benzene), inorganic chemicals (e.g. arsenic, lead, and cadmium), radionuclides (e.g. uranium), as well as disinfectants and associated byproducts (e.g. chlorine). In addition, the EPA maintains the National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations, a list of contaminants where limits are recommended, but are not actually enforced by the EPA. The contaminants on this list, such as fluoride, silver, iron, and copper, can cause cosmetic effects such as discoloration, but are not deemed harmful (although this has become controversial for fluoride recently). Lastly, the Contaminant Candidate List contains chemicals that are currently considered hazardous and are under investigation by the EPA to determine whether the contaminant should become formally regulated.

The EPA sets these national standards for drinking water and oversees the states implementing and enforcing the legislation. States manage local drinking water through the Public Water System Supervision program which requires states to submit data to the EPA every quarter. Any violations are flagged and addressed by the EPA. Unfortunately, many states have been forced to make budget cuts, leaving hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of repairs needed for all water facilities to become compliant with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

A comprehensive understanding of the EPA and its capabilities is extremely important because it underscores the importance of having a water filter system in your home. Water filtration systems add an additional protective layer for yourself and your family, protecting against either pollutants not yet regulated or faulty water treatment facilities. These water filter systems can vary from simple (e.g. water filter pitcher like a Brita for your refrigerator) to more complex (e.g. countertop filtration unit, faucet mounted filtration system, or reverse osmosis). With all of these options, be sure to confirm that the product is certified by the Water Quality Association and that you fully understand the product’s filtering process as some of the more complex filtration systems have hidden disadvantages such as large storage requirements and wastewater creation.

And with that, Congratulations! You’re on your way to delicious, filtered water in your home.


Nestle’s UN-Pure Life

Scarce is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “deficient in quantity or number, compared with the demand” and clean water is the world’s scarcest resource. Currently 780 million people worldwide, 1 out of every 9, are unable to access clean water and in many cases, those who are in the vicinity of clean water, have to go to great lengths to access it. As such, there’s been an increase in the fervor surrounding Nestle and their bottled water practices. The Swiss company and the world’s largest distributor of bottled water, which saw sales of $7.8B and double-digit growth for its water portfolio in 2012, continues to come under fire for a variety of infractions such as privatizing natural resources, predatory legal practices, as well as social and environmental indifference. Nestle owns many  bottled water brands – including Perrier, San Pellegrino, and Poland Springs – but it’s their Pure Life brand that is at the heart of the controversy. Created in 1998, Pure Life is the best-selling bottled water brand in the world and is currently sold in 37 countries across 5 continents.

In 2009, Nestle Chairman and former CEO, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, offered up this gem: “water is the new gold, and a few countries and companies are banking on it” and he has made sure that Nestle is one of those companies, making the privatization of basic necessities their business. In order to produce Pure Life, Nestle needs more water supplies and engages in questionable practices to obtain access cheaply. Groundwater is regulated differently around the world and in many cases, even differently within the same country or state. Nestle has taken full advantage of the discrepancies. For example, in a deal Nestle negotiated with Hope, British Columbia, Nestle didn’t have to pay for the water that was extracted at all because there was no management system in place to report how much water was removed. That will hopefully change with the Water Sustainability Act introduced earlier this year, which will require Nestle to pay 85 cents per 1,000 cubic meters. But unfortunately, it’s not a law quite yet. Another deal Nestle did, this time in Hillsburgh, Ontario enabled them to extract 1.1 million liters of water for the small price of $3.71/day. Nestle’s deal, which doesn’t end until 2017, is so incredible that they are able to drain water even during times of drought, while the local citizens are put on mandatory water usage restrictions!

In other instances, Nestle attempted to circumvent the legalities all together. In Serra da Mantiqueira, Brazil, famous for its “water circuits,” Nestle blatantly ignored drilling restrictions. Brazil formally charged Nestle and Perrier for violating an over-pumping rule and won. However, countless appeals have enabled Nestle to continue breaking the law. Even the United States is not immune to Nestle’s attempts at exploitation, with cities in California, Colorado, Michigan, and Maine waging local wars against the company over groundwater abuse.

The implications of Nestle’s actions have been truly devastating. From an environmental perspective, it’s unclear exactly how many billions of liters Nestle pumps out every year, but we do know it’s significant based on the fact that they sold 9.2 billion liters in 2012 according to their latest annual report. This excessive pumping ultimately leads to reduced water supply of the adjacent lakes, streams, and wetlands, leaving the locals with little to no water for their daily use. Furthermore, the construction of bottling facilities as well as the accompanying roads and pipelines needed to transport the water to the facilities destroy the natural habitat as well.

Don’t be misled by million dollar bottled water marketing campaigns – it’s not better for anyone

There is also a troubling social component to Pure Life’s roll-out. Nestle created a subversive marketing campaign that plays on the fact that in emerging markets the local water is unsafe to drink. In countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Pakistan, this is a real issue. Imagine walking up to 2 miles twice every day, just to ensure that your family has clean water to use. This scenario is unimaginable to many of us and yet, it is a reality for many people around the globe. Nestle’s campaign makes the plastic bottle integral to having clean water because it prevents contamination. While positioning Pure Life as the only way to have safe, good water, Nestle simultaneously positions it as a luxury brand. Thus, carrying around the Pure Life water bottle has become a status symbol in many developing countries – one that less than 1% of the locals can actually afford. The most disheartening part of all is that Nestle ultimately ends up reaping astronomical profits by selling the locals back their own water. A new documentary, Bottled Life , showcases this deplorable situation in greater detail.

Nestle claims to aid the water crisis, but continues to engage in their unethical practices. They increased their advertising spending by a whopping 10% last year, but we should all take care to not be fooled by their marketing ploys. It’s up to us, the consumers, to hold these corporations accountable and take a stand!

Interested in ways to join the cause? Here are a few ideas of things you can do.

1) Reduce bottled water consumption

2) Invest in a home water filtration unit for your kitchen, such as Brondell’s Cypress Water Filtration System, which provides continuous and filtered water

3) Educate friends and family on the impacts of drinking bottled water


#Wash Dont Wipe

Our bums are under attack! Over the past month, it has been nearly impossible to avoid some level of exposure to Kimberly-Clark’s most recent product launch – Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths. Backed by a massive advertising budget, the online and Twitter campaign #LetsTalkBums blitz has been everywhere. However, are flushable wipes really the best practice for your backside? Our research says NO.

Cottonelle isn’t breaking any new ground with this concept of using water to clean your nether regions. Brondell’s been talking up the benefits of water in the bathroom for over 10 years. And now everyone from Charmin to Pampers is starting to understand what Brondell has known all along – wash, don’t wipe. Water is certainly more hygienic and sanitary than toilet paper, but wipes really aren’t that different from regular toilet paper as they still spread bacteria.

Cottonelle doesn’t want the cleansing cloths to cannibalize toilet paper sales, so they re-created the bathroom process with their profits solely in mind; encouraging users to first use toilet paper, then their wipes, and finish up with more toilet paper. It’s completely wasteful and expensive. Take a family of 4, their annual toilet paper expenses alone add up to almost $350. This number is actually increasing steadily as many manufacturers have been reducing the number of sheets per roll, causing consumers to purchase even more packages of toilet paper every year. Then when you incorporate the cost of the wipes, their total annual spend balloons 63% to over $550 (tax not included)! Cottonelle’s advertising and messaging conveniently leaves out the excessive drain on your wallet padding their bottom line.

Switching to a bidet toilet seat will put money back in your pocket and improve your overall health. Brondell’s bestselling bidet toilet seat, the Swash 1000, costs only $599 and is life cycle tested for 7 years. Over that same period, you would spend almost $4,000 or 566% more with the Cottonelle system! It’s clear the bidet toilet seat is the more economical bathroom option.

But that’s not all!  In addition to the significant cost savings you’d realize with a bidet toilet seat, there are ample health benefits that toilet paper and wipes just simply cannot provide. Did you know that 80% of all infectious diseases are passed via human interaction and contact? You wouldn’t normally think of soda fountains, ATM’s, public telephones, and even shopping carts, as being ripe for fecal matter but new studies are demonstrating otherwise. The hands-free bidet toilet seat helps keeps germs from spreading, which significantly reduces the risk of infection. Wiping with toilet paper can be rough on sensitive areas, but the bidet toilet seat’s gentle and soothing wash eliminates the irritation and chaffing that can arise. This is especially advantageous for women who have recently given birth or anyone suffering from hemorrhoids. The bidet toilet seat is also great for children who can have trouble getting clean, or even the elderly who may suffer from reduced mobility. From an environmental perspective, bidet toilet seats can reduce toilet paper by approximately 75%, which in turn reduces the consumption of natural resources for toilet paper production.

Brondell’s line of bidet toilet seats provides a range for anyone looking to make a change.  For those completely new to the refreshing bidet experience, the FreshSpa Easy Bidet Attachment is a great starter model. If you’re still not quite ready to upgrade to the entire seat, another great entry model is the CleanSpa Luxury Hand Held Bidet, which is a sprayer attachment. And for those ready for all the bells and whistles, the Swash1000 Bidet Toilet Seat delivers a luxurious at-home spa experience with its heated seat, warm air dryer, adjustable stainless steel nozzles, and much more. So wash, don’t wipe; and make an investment in your well-being.

Follow the #WashDontWipe movement on Facebook and Twitter