Monday, November 2, 2009

Two Old Toilets: Keep in Circulation or Flush Away?

Last week, after replacing the main water line, we were digging (heh) on water conservation. Gene went out and got two 1.28 gallon-per-flush toilets (less than $100 each) to replace the old ones. These suckers are designed so well -- they flush perfectly using relatively little water.

The former thrones, thrown into the carport, looked lonely. I went on Craigslist, posted them for FREE, and they were gone within two hours.

I usually promote reuse. But in this case, was I wrong to put these water-hogging toilets back into circulation?


Anonymous said...

Good question Meredith! In short, I don't know. If the old ones ran at 3.5 gallons per flush, or more (or leak a lot), maybe. If they flushed at 1.6 gpf, I doubt it.

I think that the formula would go something like this

Net benefit of replacement =((impacts of resource extraction + manufacturing + shipping + maintenance + end of life management for the original toilet) / by the total months in service)-((same calcs for the new toilet)- environmental benefits of saving balance between gpf of old and new toilet). If it's a positive number, then the Watersense HET wins.

I've been asked to design a toilet rebate program, and am skeptical of the environmental net benefit. Short of finding reliable life-cycle data on toilet manufacturing and end of life management, I'm going to try to target high flow toilets for replacement, and cross my fingers.

I like that you didn't junk your old toilets...unless they were mega-flushers.


Shawn Reeves said...

to calculate sustainability over very long periods of time (~infinity), integrate the net effects over long periods of time. As long as these items save more than they use in their predecessors' creation/destruction, destruction is the way to go.
So, flush away.