DJC Green Building Blog

Greenwash or green-wash? Let’s talk toilet

Posted on September 26, 2008

Though a necessary part of life, we don't do much talking about toilets. However, in the last week I've been hearing a lot about toilet efficiency, toilet brands and how to test them.

This product could be yours!

So when I got a press release for the Brondell Swash Ecoseat, I wasn't surprised but rather perplexed. The Ecoseat bills itself as an "ecofriendly" way to save trees. Rather than flushing 100,000,000 rolls of toilet paper worldwide per day representing 55 million trees each year, the press release says, you can do simply buy this product and wipe all that eco-guilt out of your life.

The product is a battery operated "dual wand seat with an integrated bidet which features adjustable water pressure (for a refreshing feminine and posterior wash) and push button controls." In other words, it uses water rather than paper to clean you off.

Is it really environmentally friendly or are the company's claims eco greenwash? In June, the Washington Post carried a story by Blaine Harden about how energy use in Japan is soaring and how one major factor is high tech toilets that "warm one's bottom, whisk away odors with built-in fans and play water noises." They also play relaxation music like "Ave Maria." But they also consume energy at an alarming rate because they are always plugged in. The article says people are also using the toilet more, because it's a comfortable space. Some even get addicted to it.

Here in the U.S, old fashioned toilets are getting more and more water efficient.

This is what your toilet would look like
Recently at a water conference i attended, Water Expert Roger Van Gelder told attendees that new super efficient systems using 1.0 gallons per flush or less can be just as strong or stronger than older models that used seven gallons. The water use of a toilet doesn't make it a better toilet and stronger toilet, he said, instead it's the product's systems that do the job.

But with all toilets, he said, you have to actually test the toilets to see how well they work. "Anything that you get, you can't really believe what it says on the box." 

So how about believing the Swash Ecoseat's box. It is battery operated so it doesn't plug into the wall. But it still uses energy. What do you think readers, is it greenwash or a green solution?

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