Toilets show up in my sustainability book as an example of design for sustainability. I got inspired by the two-button toilet as a means to change behavior and instill consciousness of responsibility to take care of the environment. Two separate flushing buttons or levers, one big and one small, adjust the volume of the flush. The presence of two-buttons forces the user to stop and think about the next step and make a conscious choice. After a while the actor will embody that sense of responsibility and hopefully will exercise it in other situations where caring for the world is involved. I ran upon this Inhabitat story about an adjunct to a toilet that collects water from the adjacent sink and uses it for flushing.

Who says plumbing is boring? The forward thinking folks at Sloan Valve Company have come up with a compact greywater system for your bathroom that is easy to install and works with the existing fixtures. The Sloan® AQUS® Greywater System filters the water that goes down your sink drain and then uses it to flush your toilet, potentially saving a household up to 5,000 gallons of potable water each year.

This system helps contribute to LEED accreditation and could posibly lead the way for more wider adoption of extensive greywater recycling systems and public education of just how important water re-use is. Either way, it’s a pretty sweet gem to have hidden under your sink saving you water, money and peace of mind.

This is a great example of greening, reducing the stress on the environment. For that reason, it is something that should be seriously considered in new construction and fixing up projects. But there is a key problem with it signaled by the last phrase in the quote, “peace of mind.” Peace of mind signifies being able to live with your actions. Yes, in this case, if all you care about is conserving water. But if you are more involved in understanding your role in the world and acting on that understanding, then you need to be aware that what is being flushed does not simply go away. Away is not a real place. The two-button toilet takes you toward that fuller consciousness. It’s a pity the the vendor did not add this simple feature as well.

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