In the United States, Americans enjoy a lifestyle that revolves around excess when it comes to resources. One resource that is commonly overlooked is water. You can turn on your faucet and, so long as there hasn't been some kind of disaster, you can pretty much guarantee that water will flow. You can shower, do the dishes and flush your toilet with confidence, since you know that water will always be there. However, this confidence is founded on a lot of misconceptions. Do you know where your water comes from? It may come from a local watershed or it may come from far away, where it has been transported from some body of water or an ancient aquifer that is being depleted too rapidly. Part of the problem is the fact that water is typically inexpensive. In reality, water is not cheap. If you factored in all of the externalized costs, you'd find yourself with a huge water bill each month. Municipal water (the water that the city manages and offers to you) is heavily subsidized in the form of property taxes and other forms of making it seem cheaper. Water is actually very expensive, both in terms of money and in terms of environmental impact. So, if you want to reduce your ecological impact, take a look at your toilet.
About a third of American indoor household water demands are a result of your toilet. The average American home uses about 60 gallons of water every day to flush toilets. If you have an older toilet, you are probably using about 4 gallons of water every time you flush your toilet. This water waste adds up fast, but there are a lot of ways to fix it. The first way is to install ultra-low flush toilets (ULFTs). Instead of using the unnecessary 4 gallons per flush, an ULFT uses about 1.6 gallons of water. You can also install a dual-flush toilet, where you can decide to use less water for standard use or more water for more demanding flushes.
However, if installing a new toilet is not in your budget or you don't want to go through the hassle of a major plumbing project, there are a few things that you can do to reduce your toilet's water consumption and your ecological footprint that are easier, more affordable and fast. To start, you can buy a water saving device. Many companies sell a wide variety of these products. One is the Mecon Water Saver. Basically, for about forty dollars, you will get a kit that you can install yourself. The device is fitted into a toilet cistern (the top part of your toilet that holds the water). It fits on any kind of toilet, and once installed, you'll enjoy using about half the water than you did before. It works by stopping excess water use. When you flush your toilet that's outfitted with a Mecon Water Saver, you just have to push a button to stop the flow of water once the toilet bowl is cleared. It's a small step for your toilet and a larger step for you. It'll reduce your water demand and your ecological footprint.
If you are interested in purchasing something to help you conserve water, check out EnviroCitizen.org's selection of eco-friendly water-saving devices and kits!