It’s important to practice water conservation even when you live in the City, but living in the country and having a well brings the issue right to the forefront. I’m much more aware of water usage here and our habits have changed in order to avoid wasting water. Summers are supposed to be dry here and we don’t know how our well will hold up once the wet season is over. One set of changed habits concerns using the toilet, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.
We have old toilets with big tanks. Instead of replacing perfectly good toilets we’ve taken some steps to reduce our water usage considerably. I’ve adjusted the float balls to cut off the refill supply sooner. And as soon as I get my hand on a couple of bricks I’ll be placing them inside the toilet tanks to reduce the amount even further . But what really cuts down on water use for the toilets is sticking to the following guideline: If it’s Yellow, Let it Mellow; If it’s Brown, Flush it Down
We do flush in the morning after everyone has had their first pee of the day; it’s concentrated stuff then and has a strong odor. But for the rest of the day we do not flush if there is just urine in the bowl. None of us have noticed an unpleasant smell from doing this and it saves countless litres of water every day.
Of course, if you are going to follow this adage you need to do something about the toilet paper. After several people have peed and dropped paper in the toilet you may end up clogging the pipes when you finally go to flush. So, to aid us in our water saving efforts we have become fastidious about using our cloth wipes (we started using cloth wipes a while ago, but until we moved here it was a now-and-then thing).
This photo is the View From the Throne. Wipes are right in front of you, and the wet bag is hanging right above them. It’s hard to miss, and serves as a reminder to everybody in the family what we’re doing. So with no toilet paper in the bowl we can “let it mellow” for as long as need be without worrying about clogs when the time comes to flush.
Now some of you may be wondering about the how we handle “#2” (and some of you might be screaming “TMI!!!” right about now, too). We don’t use cloth wipes for that (after almost 5 years of rinsing cloth diapers in the toilet I am so done with that job!). Hubby uses good ol’ fashioned toilet paper; that’s his preference. And since we “flush it down when it’s brown” there’s no issue there. But the kids and I use flushable wipes. Except we don’t flush them…
I know, they are far more costly than toilet paper and really aren’t the least bit “green”. They are my guilty pleasure and I fully confess to this environmental Sin. Not only do they ensure that the kids do a proper job of wiping, but I personally find they do a better job and leave me feeling much cleaner than the dry stuff. I’m kind of addicted…to the point where, on the rare occasion when I travel without kids, I bring some along anyway.
But I can now argue that they are actually saving our septic system. Because we don’t flush them. We are not convinced that they are safe for septic tanks, even though the packaging says so (the first summer we had our trailer they clogged up the blackwater holding tank pretty bad and clearing that out was lesson enough for us!) so we put used ones in the waste bin. At first I thought this would make things rather smelly but after using them in our trailer this way I found that they actually didn’t smell the place up at all and the same has held true in our new place.
So, between using cloth wipes for pee and using wet wipes that go in the garbage we are putting very little toilet paper into our septic tank. And because we follow the advice to “Let it Mellow when Yellow” we are using far less water. They say that flushing the toilet uses more water than any other household use, so it’s an important area to begin thinking about water conservation.