Tuesday, March 31, 2009

the case for flushing

There is a standing controversy at our house surround the toilet. And the flushing of said toilet. The issues are complex, the arguments compelling on both sides.

The truth is, I don't always flush after each use. There, I said it.

I remember back in highschool spending the day on a house boat that belonged to the family of a friend. As soon as we got on board, we were taught the following little rhyme:

If it's yellow, let it mellow.
If it's brown, flush it down.

Obviously, in a house, we are not under the same fresh water restrictions as when you're living on a boat, however I still stand by my desire to conserve water. Not only does my, ahem, mellow attitude save water and therefore money, but I also feel strongly about water conservation in light of Peter's trip to the Sudan in 2007.

The knowledge that I use more fresh water to flush my toilet than most Sudanese children drink in their lifetime is convicting. Sure you could argue that if Sudanese mothers HAD a toilet, they WOULD use it, but I'm not sure if that argument holds much water (pardon the pun). People there know what a precious commodity clean, fresh water is and they don't waste it.

They don't take it for granted as we do.

My guilt over flushing peaked during my pregnancy with Andrew. I just couldn't justify using several liters of water to flush the measly few ounces -or mere drops!- of output I was producing hourly. Often I'd stand up from the toilet and have to go again by the time I was done washing my hands! When you're using and flushing the toilet dozens of times each day IT ADDS UP. I was trying to use water more efficiently.

Unfortunately, Liam seems to have adopted my aversion to water use. And he is less -much less- discerning when it comes to when he should, or should not, flush.

Things came to a head this week when Peter came stomping out of the bathroom and stated (rather loudly, I might add) that, "I work hard everyday so that my family CAN AFFORD TO FLUSH THE TOILET."

While I found this hilarious, I have come to the conclusion that a harmonious marriage is of greater importance than water conservation.

(Which just means that I'm trying really hard to remember to flush and clean both toilets before Peter gets home from work.)


  1. You might be interested in the Crunchy Chicken blog (http://www.thecrunchychicken.com/). She often has interesting posts about how everyday people can conserve water or energy, or reduce and reuse.

    Recently (maybe about two weeks ago?) she made a post about reusing water within the home. Many of her readers posted the "yellow/mellow" rhyme and said they use it in their house.

    I was also surprised to read that many people make an effort to collect "grey" water (water contaminated with soap and dirt) for use in flushing the toilet. They will, for example, put a pail in the bathtub or shower to catch the "warming up" water, then use that pail of water to flush the toilet next time. Or they will divert the rinse hose from the washing machine to a barrel and use that water for flushing.

    I can't say I've made any radical changes around here yet but it does make you think about small things you could be doing better.

  2. We use the same conservation technique you do. It makes me feel better about not having low flush toilets. We save more water by not flushing the #1 and then we don't have to worry about multi-flush issues when we have a #2 to get rid of. :) LOL I am talking like I am 6 again (#1, #2...) ha ha.

  3. I love that rhyme!! Perfect for our house, in fact, I am going to frame it in the the bathroom above the toilet! BTW, Bill finds it offensive when he come across a #2 because a child forgot to flush it. We have low flush toilets now in our new house...but I just can't find it in me to flush every time.....can you imagine with 6 kids who use it as well?!?!?!lol


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