Positioned as an answer to the environmental toll associated with toilet-paper and flushable wipes, a startup from Santa Monica in California has launched a portable, rechargeable bidet, which looks more like a powerbank for your laptop. Something you may be thankful for if it ever fell out of your bag at brunch.

To a lot of us, the idea of a bidet is unusual, a little odd perhaps, and maybe even funny. The team at Sonny is well aware of this, and play to this beautifully in the promotional videos for the product, launched this month on Indiegogo. But humor aside, there's no doubt that the team takes this sleek little device seriously, having spent the better part of two years designing and prototyping in partnership with well-known product design firm Box Clever.

Inspired in part by the book The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, the creators wanted to do something to help us tackle the sheer waste and environmental impact that toilet paper and flushable wipes have on the planet and our wallets.

The company states that in the US alone, toilet paper comes at an eco-cost of 500 billion gallons of water, 15 million trees, 253 tons of chlorine and 17.3 terawatts of electricity – each year. And that's just making the stuff. Disposing of toilet paper creates its own issues, and it's even worse for flushable wipes, which are responsible for clogging sewage systems the world over. Using a bidet instead can help alleviate a lot of these issues, and it's more hygienic too.

When you consider all this, the idea of a bidet begins to make a lot of sense. Still, trying to convince Americans to install bidets in their homes and workplaces may be a bridge-too-far, but a portable bidet might just work as a stepping stone towards broader acceptance. Especially if the design doesn't immediately shout "This squirts water at your butt!"

The simplicity of Sonny's design is reflected in its ease of use. You fill the removable canister with water, put it back into the housing, extend the antibacterial nozzle-head, invert it and press the multi-mode button (two pressure settings). Each canister provided 25-40 seconds of pressured flow, and when you're done, you use two or three sheets of toilet paper to pat yourself dry. Simple.

A one hour of charging Sonny lasts for up to three week. Oh and of course, Sonny is waterproof in up to a foot of water (because you just know you're going to drop it at least once).

There's just one possible downside to the current trend of unassuming, minimalist, Apple-esque product design though, and that's the potential for mistaken identity. Think about it for a moment. If our gadgets end up looking alike, how will we know what's what? Accidentally grabbing your portable air-compressor instead of your portable bidet could end up in disaster. But at least you'll have a great party story up your sleeve.

While the team behind Sonny is clearly hoping to convince Americans to embrace the concept of a bidet as a sensible, hygienic, eco-positive alternative, there's also a potentially rich market among travelers and outdoor types in places like Japan and Europe, where bidets are far more common.

Crowdfunding pledges begin at US$89 (a saving of $51) for one Sonny Portable Bidet in either Soft Silver or Dusted Champagne finish and, if all goes to plan, shipping is expected to begin in December this year and is free for US customers. The video below has more.

Sources: Sonny/Indiegogo

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