Toilet and bathroom

Action: Flush once a day less

This action isn’t as bad as it sounds; we are not suggesting for a moment that you compromise your cleanliness and hygiene!

However, it is true to say that many of us do flush our toilets unnecessarily sometimes. For example, just to dispose of a tissue after blowing your nose, or after putting cleaner into the loo. Or perhaps, after a tiny pee, it could be left ’til next time!

We think it is a safe bet that in countries where water is continually available without us having to think about it, and especially in houses with multiple bathrooms/toilets, at least one flush a day could be avoided.

Some people even advocate an old saying: “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down!”

Our angle is the preservation of water, but there are several other reasons to limit flushing if you can:

  • it saves water, a resource we take too much for granted in the developed world
  • flushing can actually spread germs by sending up spray from your loo, especially if you leave the lid up
  • urine does not generally contain many bacteria – much less than saliva for example
  • for households that pay for water by the cubic metre, it saves money
  • it’s quieter at night
  • it reduces water pressure for other users (horrible in a shower!)

Saving water

Even in countries where a continual supply of clean water is taken for granted, systems are under strain. Not just our infrastructure, but supplies too; aquifers and reservoirs get very low each summer and our water tables (the natural level of underground water) are being reduced. This impacts on our eco-systems to the detriment of plants and wildlife, as well as on our own water security.

The Maths

Let’s look at what missing just one single flush a day could save! We can do this by taking France (a typical developed country with good water infrastructure). We know there are about 29 million households in France.


An average European toilet flush is 11 litres, so the water saving each year from 1 flush less a day is:

Water saving over a year = (365 x 29,000,000 x 11) litres = 116,435,000,000 litres

A tonne of water is 1,000 litres, so this action in one country alone could save over 116 million tons of water.

Which is a lot!

Please take action

Taking action is easy, just try and avoid flushing your toilet unnecessarily. Please make a commitment to avoid at least one flush a day. As you can see from these figures, it really could make a substantial contribution to protecting our environment and to our own water security.

Please consider signing up to our fortnightly bulletin of eco-tips, Take Action, using the simple form below. Thank you.

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