We do our best, Andrew and I, in our infinitesimal box we call home and Wednesday we did the unthinkable. We tampered with our toilet.
(the culprit and if you look closely... my red socked-foot)
Living surrounded by the ocean my entire life (except for those few dry years stranded in the middle of the Okanagan) has resulted in some weird, obsessive attachment to water. I love water, I LOVE the ocean. Perhaps as a fisherman's daughter I've also grown up with a keen understanding of just how ruthless and powerful She can be. Many fathers, brothers, sons and even a few friends in my fishing community have been taken throughout the years.
Our oceans are our Earth's life and all Her inhabitants, every single last one, may thank the ocean for our existance. The ocean is where life began and the water cycle continues to nourish and sustain our world. As North Americans we are so wasteful with water, as if it has an unending supply that we can use and pollute.
According to Ecoholic, up to 65% of the water we use in our homes happens in the bathroom (Ecoholic 2006, p.156). One third of that number is from our toilets. If we had our own home, and could save some moolah, Andrew and I would totally invest in a low flow or two flow toilet. Unfortunately, swapping our current beaut and leaving it to hang out in the hall might ruffle a few feathers....
Our lovely toilet uses 13.2 litres with every single flush (3.5 gallons). Wow. Seems a bit excessive, especially for pee. Andrew and I both figure we flush the toilet about three times each a day (erring on the side of caution... we do often "let it mellow"), so in one year that would be 28 908 litres (7636 gallons). Whoa, twenty eight THOUSAND litres a year of water. As letting it mellow isn't always an option and pooing less is also not really an option, and buying a new toilet isn't up... what to do?
A water bottle! Vanessa from Green as a Thistle inspired us to make this eco-change. I know it's weird, but I was a little nervous about altering any appliance that wasn't "ours". The idea, place a filled water bottle in your toilet tank so that it displaces water, giving your tank less water to accomplish the flush. Bricks are a no go as they may eventually break down and damage stuff (I've heard differing opinions on this one, but since we don't have any spare bricks laying around it wasn't really an issue).
I gotta admit, it took a few months of thinking about it before following through. The main issue, we don't buy bottled water or bottled anything. Hardly ever. Strangely enough, I have this aversion to plastic bottles... So I was struggling with WHAT exactly to place in the toilet. Should we...no...BUY bottled water for this one change? Andrew, being the practical guy that he is, picked up an stainless steel water bottle and announced our victory. It had been a "gift" from my job, but it's ugly, made by a no-name company in China with our company's name painted on the side. Who needs to be reminded with every drink where they work? So it's been hanging out in our cupboard for about three months.
And now it is in our toilet- WOO!
Andrew assured me that it wouldn't rust, break anything or spontaneously combust (he's so nice) so we filled it with water and (he) found the perfect spot. It's only a 500ml (16fl oz) bottle which changes our toilet to a 12.7 litre toilet. Which in a year will save 1095 litres. I can't even tell the difference when I flush, in one way a good thing, but a little bit of a let down. SO I'm considering (if it can fit) to put the OTHER stainless steel water bottle (600ml) I got as a present from a client in there as well. If I can make it fit- toilet tanks are pretty darn minimalist. Combined that would mean 1.1 litres less per flush which would more than double my water savings in a year!
Other options include buying a "toilet dam", costing less than ten dollars and can save up to 3 litres per flush or a water bag (the "toilet tummy"- seriously, who came UP with these names??). Because I'm lazy, it made more sense to simply use something we already had in the house (plus it means cheaper, and less eventual waste). I'm not sure how anyone could fit an entire 1 litre juice/milk jug in their toilet tank though... Also, I have read filling the receptical with sand or rocks may help it sink.
The next step: shorter showers.... gah.
article and photos by EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com