Saturday, April 16, 2016

Everyday Water Conservation in France

Over the years, I have been fascinated by the surprise I've often gotten when opening a bathroom door anywhere in France.  On an early trip, I amused myself on the plane home, by labeling and drawing 11 different types of toilets I had seen.

They ranged from the English-style hanging tank on the wall with the long brass bell pull to a park toilet which was minimal to say the least.  It was a ceramic floor with a hole in the sloping center with a pair of horseshoe-shaped cleats to place your feet.  "Primitive" is understatement.  Despite a bursting bladder, I couldn't bring myself to use it.  You'd be amazed at how tough said bladder can be and the storage tank capabilities. 

On a driving trip years ago, Michelle and I made a pit stop and the bathrooms were unisex which I'd never seen before.  I was startled to see both men and women casually strolling inside. When a cleaning woman persuaded me that this was normal, I pulled down my dark glasses and sidled cautiously in.  No worries.  The restroom contained a number of toilet closets with floor to ceiling doors and a shared wash basin on one wall.  "Oh," I thought.  Checking doors for the Occupied sign, finding an unoccupied one, and opening the door provided another (unpleasant) surprise.  The toilet  had no seat.  You parked your butt right onto the porcelain rim of the bowl. 

When we were both back in the car, I mentioned this to Michelle and she laughed and said, "They don't want you to take your vacation in there!"

In today's world, I found that the hotel public restroom (just outside the breakfast buffet) did have a toilet seat, but no toilet lid.  An improvement, to be sure.   

But water-saving toilets were rife in their numbers.  Picture the top of a toilet tank.  Now position a large rectangular button on the left side of the lid and a smaller square on the right of that.  The square is for flushing liquids; the rectangle is for, uh, larger deposits.  There is a variation in style - a pair of interlocking wide round buttons.

This struck me as so practical that I wanted one.  I am tired of the old Hippie saying here at home:  Yellow, let it mellow; brown, flush it down.  Kohler sells one for $936 and it uses 20% less water than a 1.6 gallon.  The small button uses .8 gallons; Big Job 1.6 gallons. 

This is a bit pricy but sells various kits for conversion to this system of flush for as little as $30. 

Put your money where your mouth is - Google "top actuator French toilets"

Proof that the French are prudent - there are rarely droughts there (unlike SoCal) but they're ready!  

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