Tuesday, 28 August, 2001

How to Dispose of a Toilet?

Yes, that is a toilet in the back of my truck.  Sunday was rip out the bathroom day.  I disassembled the entire back bathroom in yet another step of our remodeling project.  Sink, cabinet, mirror, baseboards, toilet, and door all went with me to the RE-store at the local Habitat for Humanity.  The RE-store accepts donations of building materials that they resell in order to raise money for their building projects.  It's a worthy cause, and a much better place for my old building materials than the city dump.  But the RE-store wouldn't take the toilet!  It's one of the old 3.5 gallon-per-flush models.  The 1992 Energy Policy and Conservation Act established a $2,500 fine for anyone who doesn't install low-flow toilets in a new or remodeled bath.  Yes, you heard right, $2,500 fine if you replace your existing toilet with an old model. To make matters worse, the City of Austin came into Habitat one day and threatened to fine them or shut them down if they continued to sell the old models.  Excuse the pun, but what kind of crap is that?

I can understand passing a law that encourages using new low-flow (1.6 gallons per flush) toilets, and perhaps even prohibiting the manufacture, import, and sale of new 3.5 gpf units.  But to prohibit people from reusing their old toilets seems like a shitty thing to do.  It's not environmentally friendly, either.  There are very few places in the country that will accept a toilet for recycling (to be ground up and used as fill dirt or to create heat-resistant ceramic material for industrial use).  So the toilets end up in our already overcrowded landfills.  Now there's a good idea!

Anybody who's used one of the early model 1.6 gpf units is familiar with having to flush at least twice to send everything away (which reminds me of a military school joke:  "Flush twice.  It's a long way to the mess hall").  Anyway, 1.6 gallons times 2 flushes is...carry the one...3.2 gallons.  Wow!  Those new toilets are saving us about a quart of water each flush.  If it's true that the later model low-flow units have solved most of multi-flush problems, then shouldn't the 1992 Act be amended to prohibit installation of the early model 1.6 gpf units?  This law has also spawned a black market for the older toilets.  $300 each?  Hmmm...there are three bathrooms in this house, each with its own vintage toilet.  On second thought, perhaps I should hang on to them just in case the new 1.6 gpf units I have my eye on don't work as expected.