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The Great Flushing Debate

Posted on August 20, 2013 by | Comments Off

Woman Cleaning Toilet ca. 1999It’s a common debate in our home – the selective flush. You know what I’m talking about, the simple act of refraining from flushing the toilet each time you use it. You may even be familiar with the cute little poem that encourages you to take action based on colors, “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down…” In my experience, this habit tends to provoke strong opinions, whether for or against.

Here’s how the argument ensues in my household.

My point – It’s smelly and disgusting. As the primary toilet cleaner, if I happen to miss a week of toilet scrubbing it gets scuzzy.

My husband, however, argues some incredibly valid points, but please don’t tell him I said that.

Point 1 – Although dirty toilets are gross, he claims what is really disgusting is that we take around 1.3 gallons of good drinking water to flush 15 ounces of urine down the toilet. In doing this, the 1.3 gallons becomes undrinkable and continues to be routed to a waste water treatment facility where it is processed with chemicals and then dumped into the rivers and oceans. We dirty perfectly good drinking water, make it toxic and then clean it with chemicals only to dump it back into the environment.

Point 2 – The average person urinates 6 times a day, releasing 15 ounces of urine per trip to the bathroom, that’s 90 ounces of urine being flushed a day. If a high efficiency toilet that uses 1.3 gallons of water to flush is used 6 times a day, it then it takes 7.8 gallons of water to flush 90 ounces of urine daily. That equals out to about 2847 gallons a year to dispose of 257 gallons of urine for one person.

I get it. I really do. The logic and math shows that there is money and water to be saved. It may take some time for me to jump on the selective flushing bandwagon. In the meantime, I might use this as a bargaining opportunity for a compromise on toilet cleaning duties. The way I see it – if he uses less energy to push the toilet handle, shouldn’t he be able to pick up a toilet brush?

This blog post was submitted by Erica Roberts, Media & Communications Coordinator with Virginia Beach Public Utilities.

Posted in: Reduce reuse and recycle, Using water wisely

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