Photo: Inspiration is only a flush away

Credit: Jennifer Snyder via Flickr)

It was only week two of "greening" the Smiths and mother-of-four (all under age seven), Melanie, had an "unexpected eco-event" as she called it:

"A much loved bathtub toy seahorse the size of a My Little Pony ended up being flushed down the toilet."

The incident reminded Melanie that three years ago their home inspector had called the 20-litre toilets "pigs" and suggested they be replaced. There they were, with a brick in each toilet tank and a seahorse stuck in the bend of one of the pipes. The only superhero to call to this rescue was Mr. Sledgehammer.

Now the Smiths are proud owners of a 4.1L dual flush toilet, complete with four childproof locks! I felt like a proud mamma bird whose nestlings had fledged. But the story also left me inspired. In Melanie's email she wrote "our best guess is that our old toilets are the originals, guzzling 20 plus liters (I can see you cringe.)"

She couldn't see me. I wasn't cringing. I was picturing my two, lonely low-flow toilets sitting in my garage waiting for a good home. What was I waiting for?

Inspired by the Smiths, 17 days after reading their toilet tale I replaced one of my own 13 plus litre toilets with a dual flush low-flow model (0.9 Gpf/1.6 Gpf). (The other one is part of a much larger eco-renovation coming up in the New Year. Stay tuned.) Inspiration can come in many forms. In this case, it came as a child's plastic seahorse disguised as a champion for water conservation.

But seriously, watching the Smiths transform — writing a letter to the Mayor about getting a toilet rebate program for their city, making their own cleaning supplies, hanging laundry up to dry, calculating how much water their new toilet is not using and being excited about it — has really moved me.

When it comes to making more sustainable choices in your life, who has inspired you?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

P.S. Need a pick-me-up? Watch this very moving and inspiring video by twelve-year-old Severn Cullis-Suzuki at the UN Summit over 18 years ago.

December 13, 2010

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Aug 02, 2011
3:23 PM

As soon as my paint supply has been used I will find a way to paint with materials, merciful to the environment. and I will make good choices whenever a replacement purchase is made. Do not give up on us, and thank you for all you have given.

Jul 26, 2011
6:22 PM

The first thing we replaced in our house was the old toilet. We installed one of these dual flush things.. I was amazed how much it decreased our water bill! Between the toilet and the high efficiency washing machine we are saving over $600 a year!

Mar 23, 2011
5:40 PM

Update: I have replaced both toilets now! It was much easier than I anticipated. I also just figured out how to use the least amount of water per flush — don’t hold down the button! And did you know that there are now conversion kits out there for old toilets that give you a low flow option?

Lindsay Coulter Queen of Green

Dec 14, 2010
4:55 PM

It´s amazing how many water can be lost just by flushing our toilets! Im happy you shared this solutions to see that other ways of saving water exsist.


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