Cash for Crappers
by Bill Chameides | September 8th, 2009
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)
TheGreenGrok’s Cash for Crappers program asks you to “just say no” to wasteful toilets while stimulating the ailing bathroom appliance industry.
The Eureka Moment
Each day I try to find a few moments for quiet meditation in a small room dedicated for the purpose. That’s where I was yesterday, thinking about the growing scarcity of water resources, when the idea just popped out. The Cash-for-Clunkers program was such a huge success, why stop there? Why not a similar type of program to address one of the most wasteful activities of modern American life, something we participate in several times each day, something that wastes far too many gallons of clean water? Yes. I’m talking about flushing the toilet.
It’s hard to comprehend that we use water fit for drinking to wash our bodily effluent down a pipe to a septic system or water treatment plant. Worst yet, many of us use toilets that require unseemly amounts of water. While the industry standard for toilets is 1.6 gallons per flush, the most wasteful toilets use between five and seven gallons for every flush! The best use under a gallon. To qualify for the government’s WaterSense program:
- a single-flush toilet must use a maximum of 1.28 gallons per flush;
- a dual-flush toilet must use a maximum of 1.40 gallons/solid waste and .9 gallons for liquid waste per flush.
For an idea of individual savings, consider this: scrapping a pre-1980 toilet, which flushes away five gallons of water with each plunge, for a WaterSense model, which purges with just 1.26 gallons, would save about 6,800 gallons a year, based on a five-flush day.
The Savings Are Not Crappy
The Environmental Protection Agencyestimates that if all the older, inefficient toilets that Americans still use were replaced with efficient WaterSense toilets, the United States would have almost an extra two billion gallons of water on hand per day. That’s about 640 billion gallons each year we could save — enough water to fill nearly 970,000 Olympic-sized pools or, on a more practical level, to meet the nation’s public water supply needs for almost 15 days (using data from 2000).
Fly You to the Moon?
Here’s another way to grasp the savings. Suppose you were to build a 10-foot-by-10-foot aquarium to hold 640 billion gallons of water. The aquarium would need to reach 162,000 miles high, stretching upward into the sky and beyond into outer space, a full two-thirds of the way to the moon!
TheGreenGrok Challenge: Move Toward a Smarter Toilet
Folks, that’s an awful lot of water we could save and it means that right now each year we flush away far too much clean water. So let’s do something about it, easiest steps first.
- Follow grandma’s advice: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.”
- Buy a low-water conversion kit or just jerry-rig your old, inefficient toilet so that it uses less water with each flush. Caveat: jerry-rigging can lead to a less-than-satisfactory flush because inefficient toilets are designed to use more water to wash everything away. The purchase of a dual flush kit can help address this problem.
- Scrap your old water-wasting crapper for a spanking new, low-flow toilet bowl.
TheGreenGrok Steps Up
America needs to get smarter about saving water and the TheGreenGrok.com wants to get the ball rolling. We are also very concerned about the state of bathroom appliance industry during this economic downturn (actually we don’t have any specific statistics about the industry, but we are concerned). Taking a page out of the federal government’s Cash for Clunkers program, we are initiating a Cash for Crappers program. Here’s how it works:
- Go out and buy a new, low-flow toilet that meets EPA’s WaterSense criteria,
- Then download, print, and fill out this form [pdf], and
- Mail in your completed form along with a copy of the toilet receipt to: TheGreenGrok’s Cash-for-Crappers Program
c/o Nicholas School of the Environment
Durham, NC 27708-0328Please be sure to include the models or better yet the gallons–per-flush of both the old and new crappers, as we will be tracking the water savings success of this program.
- Upon receipt of your material, we will send you a cash rebate plus a special gift.
Note Quite ‘Bowl’ing for Dollars
So what are those goodies? Nothing less than a shiny new penny and a special “The Green Grok” ballpoint pen!* OK, that’s not quite the same as the $4,500 cash subsidy in the Cash for Clunkers program, but hey, we’re TheGreenGrok without access to the Federal Treasury.
The good news is that we might not be the only ones doling out incentives for getting a more efficient bathroom “throne.” Check these sites to see what program your state, city or town may have:
I don’t know about you, but I’m so excited … well, excuse me — gotta go do some meditating.
*Offer good while supplies last.filed under: faculty, sustainability, waste, water
and: Do It Yourself, dual-flush, low-flush, natural resources, technology, toilets, water savings