Thursday, May 1, 2008

Going Green in the Bathroom

Sage or avocado? Hunter or mint? If we were talking paint, my choice would be sage, but let's talk toilets.

Oh the lowly commode. It has finally started going modern in recent years. The days of huge tanks and endless flushes are gone thankfully. Low flow toilets made their appearance on the market many years ago, but can we do better?

Change starts with people's awareness, and with water shortages in parts of the US in recent years, people are starting to become aware of their water usage. Here in Cheese Country, the old-fashioned Midwestern mindset of "Waste not, want not" is still alive and kicking. HE front loading washers are gaining popularity, and Energy Star certification has become standard on dishwashers, saving up to 40% of the water used in non-Energy Star dishwashers. But can we do better?

That brings us in to the bathroom and the lowly commode. It is estimated that fifty percent of households in the US today have only toilets that use 4 gallons of water or more per flush. Four gallons or more! Wasteful to the extreme, the anti-thesis of our frugal Midwestern ancestors.

We have all heard "If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down." Truly, though, how practical is this? It will not work in a public bathroom situation, and most households in the US will not practice it. We should instead look to technologies that have been commonplace in Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East for years.

Dual flush toilets are an easy way to conserve water. They have two flushing options - #1 and #2 for #1 and #2 if you will pardon the pun. Use one option for flushing liquid waste and use a minuscule .08 gallons of water per flush. For solids, utilize the second flush option. It is still an ultra low flow toilet and uses merely 1.6 gallons per flush. Dual flush toilets can result in a 40-60% reduction in water usage for the toilet in most households, even more if your home is one using outdated waterhogs.

The dual flush toilets first started appearing in the US a few years ago, and they are becoming easier to find. Perhaps your local building supply story may not stock them, but if you ask, you can probably special order one. Caroma entered the US market in 1998, and US companies have followed suit with units being offered by Kohler, Mansfield, Vitra, Vortens and more.

Dual flush and ultra low flow toilets are a great idea whose time has come in the US. Water is a precious resource and should be conserved. Dual flush toilets are an easy way to conserve a large amount of water easily.

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