The Shared Flush: A Conservation Compromise for the Squeamish


Image credit: Me

I know that's a charming image to face over your Saturday morning coffee, but I couldn't help myself. You see while some TreeHuggers get crazy traffic writing about LED light bulbs, or silly names for whales, I must resort to revealing embarrassing truths about my bathroom habits. From peeing in public to taking navy showers - my posts on unconventional water conservation seem to hit a nerve. But I was so surprised by the disgust from some quarters at my post on the selective flush, I thought I'd propose a compromise.You see, while the logic of not flushing away gallons of drinking water each time we pee certainly makes sense, some folks are still more than a little squeamish about "letting it mellow". Doesn't it smell? Isn't it unhygienic? What if the kids go exploring? And perhaps most commonly - what about 'splash back'?

It might be tempting to tell folks that water conservation is more important than personal comfort, or (probably unfounded) concerns about hygiene - and I have heard the more activisty type do just that. But it's unlikely to get us very far. After all, personal choice is personal choice - and some folks would just rather have as little to do with their own waste byproducts as possible, and I can't say I blame them. But while we wait for sensible codes about gray water reuse, composting toilets etc - and for bathroom designers to adopt urine separation, or at least low flow toilets - it would be nice if as many of us as possible did something about our toilet-related water use. So here's my compromise - the shared flush.

If you're not comfortable with leaving urine to mellow until the next user comes along, you can at least - if you live with someone else - ask them if they need to pee before flushing. The simple act of sharing your flush will save 50% of the water used, and urine won't be sitting around causing odors. Assuming your "flushmate" is someone near and dear to you, they are hardly likely to be grossed out by something as innocuous as a little fresh urine. If you adopt the principle of "ladies first", with guys taking second turn - then you don't even have to worry about splashback, right?

OK - I'm done. I promise. No more posts about my bathroom habits - at least for a week. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go water the garden.

Tags: Blue August | Toilets | Waste | Water Crisis

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