A post on toilets.

Yep, a full post on the can;)

I was just skimming through my feeds and noticed Guy Kawasaki’s post on the a green building at Stanford. Interesting indeed, until I read this:


Guy: “Here’s something I’ve never seen before: Depending on what you put in the toilet, you select the power of the flushing action. What will people think of next?”

Ummm… hate to break it to you Guy… but Europe (and I’m sure other countries) have been doing the two flush system for a while now. I’m sure they come to N. America and just gasp at our consume-all behaviour and appliances.


(This is a normal flusher – although it varies. But always a large button for more water and a little button for less water)

So, since this ‘two flush’ system was such a shocker; even for a guy (no pun intended) who I’m sure has traveled a bit. I thought I’d do some research on the actual water consumption of toilets.


Here’s another cool thing that we COULD be doing yet are too dense to realize the savings…


Think, why are we using clean drinking water to flush our waste? Duh duh.. I don’t know. Seems ridiculous when you stop and think that people are living through droughts yet still haven’t connected the dots on this one…


(Well, at least it’s being done in the Stanford Building)

Recycling “greywater” (wastewater from laundry, sinks, bathing etc. that isn’t contaminated with feces/toxic materials, which is called blackwater) is a smart and sustainable idea. This recycled water takes up about 50-80% of residential wastewater. It obviously isn’t for drinking but it can be reused for things like lawn watering (soil acts like a natural filtration system) and aha… FLUSHING TOILETS!

There are obvious obstacles in putting this into practice (first off, need two pipe systems to make sure you don’t mix the two types) but I think it’s most definitely worth trying.

What’s worse?

Wasting a precious resource down the drain, flooding sewage plants and polluting effluents to to the natural environment…


Figuring out a way to do this right.

In the mean time… we can always follow the camp rule (note: when I say “camp” – that would be the Northwestern Ontario way of saying cottage;)

“If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down”

haha.. can’t believe I just added that saying to my blog;)

Anyways, enjoy the bright (at least here) sunny Sunday afternoon!


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10 thoughts on “A post on toilets.

  1. janeporter says:

    California Plumbers Stall Plans for No-Flush Urinals


  2. Jay Godse says:

    It all comes down to return on investment. Water just isn’t that expensive in Canada. Buying a toilet and installing it is expensive. Moreover, investing the cost of the toilet and the cost of installation elsewhere (e.g. paying off credit card debt) can yield huge returns for many people. If you can show that switching to these toilets will pay back the cost of toilet and installation in 4 years, you’ll get more people switching over. Otherwise, it falls into the category of something you do (as we did) when you do a wholesale bathroom renovation.

    In most of Canada, greywater is a non-starter. You have to shunt water from grey water sources to greywater storage, which costs money to buy and install, as well as taking up floor space (which also costs money). If the maintenance costs of a greywater system are too high, then the cost and headache is hard to justify in the presence of cheap fresh water.

    It gets even better. Renters (a large chunk of the population) don’t care because the benefit of such a toilet accrues to the landlord and doesn’t come back. Landlords have enough capital improvement projects to worry about besides low-flow toilets, and many capital improvement projects yield higher rents than these toilets. Many homeowners don’t care because there are so many other uses of water, that installing 1 low-flow toilet will have a negligible effect on the water bill.

    Although a good idea, and possibly economically beneficial, it is a hard sell to most people. Show me a better business case…

  3. Grey water reclamation is all the rage. Check out the NYC project at http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Business/story?id=2927721&page=1

  4. janeporter says:

    Jay Jay Jay… I disagree again. (You’ve got to be so hard nosed capitalist eh? haha.. just kidding, I always love the comments – and it forces me to bring up the dollar issue.

    1. It doesn’t all come down to the ROI. It comes down to regulation. Gov’t needs to step in and MAKE us do this.

    oh man.. so many points in my head and the research is starting. K, i’ll make a full post on this soon.

    stay tuned…

  5. btn says:

    Are the chemical cartridges in the waterless urinals better for the environment than a little bit of water every so often?

    Also, how does one make the dual flush toilets touch-less?

    I like the toilets that feature a sink above the tank for washing your hands after you flush, which activates the faucet. The “graywater” drains directly into the toilet tank.

  6. janeporter says:


    true, i have no idea what they’re made of or if they’re better. I just thought it interesting.

    hmm.. about the touchless toilets, good point. I think i’ve seen the push-with-your-shoes-two-lever toilets on some trains.

    never seen those but the idea is cool. However, how do you get right up in front of the sink when the toilet is there?

  7. Jay Godse says:

    Governments make lots of regulations. If they make regulations that are perceived to be heavy burdens on the majority of the voting public, the legislators are voted out.

    Government regulated smoking bans in public restaurants work because most voters actually don’t smoke, and the smokers know it is not good for them. Also not smoking saves money for the smokers, and it saves restaurants money on cleaning, etc. i.e. Positive ROI.

    Pollution bans in cities such as automobile emission controls work because reducing pollution makes cities much more liveable, and that facilitates the flow of commerce resulting in a positive ROI for most people. Pollution bans in Northern Alberta tar sands processing don’t reduce the ROI for most people, and therefore get no support.

    Multi-flush, low flow toilet legislation simply won’t make it until water becomes much more expensive.

    I had a personal experience with stupid regulation. The Ontario government mandates that all new shower heads be installed with flow limiters to reduce water consumption. When our contractor installed it, I could not believe how little water flowed for the shower. I used it, but the girls in the house resorted to taking more water-intensive baths instead. Eventually I figured out how to remove the low-flow plug, and the showers were as luxurious as ever, and the girls don’t take baths anymore. For me this low-flow regulation had a negative ROI because it reduced the quality of my shower, and it increased my water bill because the girls switched to baths. Of course the few showers that I took used less water, but it didn’t help overall.

  8. bw carey says:

    Just as a sidenote on the two-flush toilets, these have actually begun to appear in Canada. I forget exactly where I was (although I believe it may have been Gatineau Provincial Park in Quebec), but there were these two-flush systems much like exist in Europe. Perhaps we’ll start to see more of these in N.A. (or atleast Canada) as people see more of them.

  9. […] 8, 2008 · No Comments I’m happy to say that my toilet post spurred a lot of interest. Even Guy Kawasaki himself wrote back to my comment on his blog and then […]

  10. […] the post on toilets. I obviously don’t know all of those stats on Canadian water consumption but as I write, I […]

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