Under the Hood of my Ugly ’80s Toilet

Hey, they don’t make ’em like this anymore! Thank heavens! This is my hideous 1980s-vintage gold toilet. For a variety of reasons, I’m not in a position to get rid of the 3.5-gallon flusher just now. I have, however, modded it “under the hood” to use less water. (I don’t know the total amount of water these add-ons save; does anyone know how I would determine this?)

Anyway…first, I’ve replaced the constantly-kinking flush chain with a piece of rubbery cord that I pulled off of a retail pants hangers. Try this freebie hack if, like me, you get leaking water due to the flapper not seating firmly when the chain tangles. (Look for a hanger like this one.)

Next: see that blue thing attached to the fill tube? This is a clever little device that saves water by equalizing the bowl/tank fill rate. Most toilet bowls are finished filling long before the tank is full. While the fill valve continues filling the tank, it also continues overfilling the bowl, and the excess bowl water goes over the siphon trap and down the drain, wasted. With this adjustable gizmo the tank and bowl both finish filling at exactly the same time. (I got mine from eBay, but here’s a similar one.)

Next…Julie O’Fee, a friend from the UK, sent me a Thames Water giveaway Save-a-Flush which saves up to one litre per flush, according to their website. It’s a bag of crystals made from a harmless silicone gel. Once you place it into your “cistern” within hours it swells up firmly against the sides of the tank.

With a little more room in the tank, I added the 20 oz. glass; it just sits there in the tank and when it’s flushed the water stays in the glass and the whole deal displaces that additional amount of water.

So this will suffice as I continue to dream of my future Euro-styled dual flush. Now if only I could do something about the color…

The Campaign for Lovely Carafes

Thankfully, many great campaigns are underway to get clean water to those who desperately need it.

But what about getting water to those who need it in a chic, well-designed container? Isn’t design-lifestyle snobbery one of the factors that’s spurred the rise of premium bottled waters?

Perhaps a good strategy is to “fight fire with fire.” The 2008 London On Tap competition teamed London’s mayor with Thames Water to draw designers into the tap water vs. bottled water struggle via a contest to create the ultimate water carafe. The winning design, “Tap Top,” (created by Islington industrial designer Neil Barron) went on sale last week for £10. (£1 of each sale will be donated to the charity WaterAid.) The goal is to get every London restaurant to serve tap water in this beautiful, chic carafe.

To kick the campaign off, at least 1,000 restaurants are receiving a carafe; the campaign hopes to ride the coat-tails of a previously successful campaign that convinced thousands of restaurants and bars to actively offer free tap water. (Did you notice that the Tap Top’s top mimics the shape of a old-school tap handle?)

Tap Top edged out some truly worthy entires, including these two shortlisted designs:

“Connected Pipe” by East End designer Nina Tolstrup

“Tap” by Adam White of London’s Factory Design Ltd.