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5 REDUCE TOILET FLUSHES

This action focuses on reducing daily water consumption through flushing only when necessary.

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why?

"Toilets account for almost 30% of the water we use in our homes. Toilets installed before 1994 use 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush, and as much as 20 gallons per person per day" (City of San Bernadino website).

The average person flushes the toilet five times daily. With an average flush using 3.5 gallons this adds up to 17.5 gallons of water used each day to flush human waste. Because we are not drinking water from our toilets, it is not necessary to clean this water to the same degree as water used for other purposes. However, because toilet water is piped into our homes in the same way as all other water uses, it uses a huge and unnecessary amount of energy for this cleaning and transportation.

Developing habits of only flushing waste when absolutely necessary is a simple way to dramatically reduce the amount of daily water consumption.


how to do this action:

The old and simple adage "if it's yellow let it mellow; if it's brown flush it down" is a good way to describe the method of accomplishing this action.

By only flushing after #2 you can dramatically (and sanitarily) reduce the water needed to flush waste each day. For many, this was a habit developed while growing up and the toilet was flushed only when a build up of toilet paper required it.

By reducing toilet flushes to only when necessary, you can reduce your personal toilet flushing water use from 17.5 gallons to only 7-10.5.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: How much water can be saved by adopting a strategy of reducing toilet flushes to only when necessary?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of reducing toilet flushes to only when necessary affect your happiness, convenience, health and costs?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (WTR5_BASELINE) to:

  • (1) Keep track of the number of times you flush the toilet each day. Keep a log in your bathroom tallying the number of times the toilet is flushed each day during the baseline week.
  • (2) If you are certain of your toilets use (in gallons per flush) fill it in below. If you are unsure when your toilet was manufactured (different efficiencies have been required of different times), see this link to determine its consumption:
    How to Check Your Toilet's Flush Volume.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (WTR5_BASELINE) as it relates to your current toilet flushing water consumption:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
Using the corresponding spreadsheet (WTR5_QUANTITATIVE) to:

  • (1) Keep track of the number of times you flush the toilet each week. Keep a log (or print this pdf) in your bathroom, tallying the number of times the toilet is flushed each week (for complete weeks 1-8).
  • (2) Fill in gallons per flush from the baseline spreadsheet to calculate total gallons used each week to get a weekly average of gallons used.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria weekly on the spreadsheet (WTR5_QUALITATIVE) Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences as you implement this action and how it has affected your life. Some of the following questions might be helpful as you reflect upon your experiences.

What was your experience like flushing only when necessary? Did you roommates/partner/family feel comfortable adopting this strategy with you? What were the struggles?


resources

A few articles covering this method are found in the links below:

Mother Nature Network
TreeHugger.com
ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

WTR5_Reduce Toilet Flushes Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

WTR5_BASELINE
WTR5_QUANTITATIVE
WTR5_QUALITATIVE