I usually listen to CBC radio when I’m in the kitchen, often preparing food. When I started hearing about students Debs Torr and Chris Dobson at the University of East Anglia challenging 15,000 fellow students to delay their morning wee until their shower back in 2014, I listened.
Dobson said they could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool 26 times with the water saved. And if everyone in the UK got on board, 720 million litres (195 million US gallons) would be diverted. I’ve been a convert ever since.
If you’ve just thought ick or eeewww, let me remind you that your shower drain is connected to the same exit pipe as your toilet. Ah, well, that sheds a whole new light on the matter.
You can also sneak in a quick wee at communal showers (I recommend this only when confident you can get away with it) because as long as there’s water to wash it away, there’s no risk to hygiene since urine is sterile when it leaves our bodies.
Another thing easy thing you can do is adopt the “if its yellow, let it mellow” approach. Flushing down a quick wee before leaving the house is usually a waste of water compared to the often small amount of urine. Why not hold off on that flush until your returning home wee. If I can’t see a noticeable colour difference in the bowl, I often delay a flush or two.
If you’re still using a toilet from before 1980, you could be flushing up to 26 litres / US 7 gallons per flush. And if you’ve got a leaking toilet, naturally your water usage/wasteage increases. Conserve H20 offers a test for leaks as some aren’t visible or audible.
Flushing less means we save money on our water bills, directly and indirectly: the bill we pay for usage and the water sanitation costs by less water being recleaned. And we save the environment.
You can futher help to lower sanitation costs by not flushing anything beyond bodily waste and toilet paper. No tampons, wipes or facial tissues; the former two say flushable and you may equate a tissue with toilet paper, but none break down and may clog pipes, including your own. Len The Plumber has a list of other items that should not be flushed. Britain’s fatberg should come to mind whenever you think of flushing anything other than #1, #2 or TP.
Doug from sanitationventures.com has some interesting points about using bidets or washlets (toilets with built-in mini bidets). He considers them eco-friendly because the very small amount of water required is recyclable whereas toilet paper is not.
Using American statistics, he states 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper is flushed into sewer systems annually. More than 473 billion US gallons (1.75 trillion litres) of water is required to produce those toilet paper rolls. The industry also uses more than 250,000 tons of chlorine to bleach the paper.
There now are plenty of toilet options to choose from, such as ultra-low-flow (ULF), dual flush, High Efficiency toilets (HET) and most are made better than the early makes and models. Toilets last a long time so do your homework before purchasing a new one.
Do we really need bleached toilet paper?