Why I Don’t Like Eco-Toilets

If you haven’t bought a toilet in the last few years it may come as news to you that the “flush & go” system as we knew it is now (as far as I know) more or less extinct.

Gone is the old handle.

Flusher. An old one. Yesterday.



In is a dual flush system, with a small button and a big button.

Twice the fun.
Twice the fun.

The small button is for Number Ones. The big button is for Number Twos, but nobody ever tells you that. Isn’t the internet marvellous?


So here’s my list, off the top of my head as to why I think the new system is (if you pardon the pun) crap…


A "New" toilet. Yesterday.
A "New" toilet. Yesterday.

1. Nobody knows how to use it.
We have ours a year and I’m pretty sure nobody (apart from yours truly) ever even thought about which button should be pushed on each visit. Or why.


2. It doesn’t work.
I’ve spoken to others about it and everyone I mention it to says the same -with the circular two-button system as above at least, when you press the small button, the big button goes down too, making a joke of the initial idea.

I’ve heard it suggested that this is because plumbers don’t know how to install them in the first place, which leads me on to my next point…


3. It’s impossible to fix.

We all know what the old system looks like under the hood (at least if you’re reading this today, in 2009 you should still have at least a fairly basic understanding of it).
You lower the handle, which inside pulls a lever, which empties the water. Then a hollow ballcock ‘floats’ on the water until it reaches a certain level, which cuts off the flow of water into the cistern, ready for another flush.

So simple even I can understand it.
Let me tell you I’ve even fixed a few toilets in my time with a bit of an old hanger, a ribbon and/or some sticky tape. Doing so leaves one in buoyant humour for the rest of the day.

One look into the cistern of an ‘old style’ toilet immediately sends any man (and a fair number of women) into MacGuyver mode. We all instinctively know I could fix this… if I just found something around here to hold that bit up/ block that bit there/ stop that part from doing this/ etc.

Now, you lift the lid of a ‘new’ toilet and this is what you see:

Black box Cistern. Yesterday.
Black box Cistern. Yesterday.

…One box that does one thing. Another box that does something else. A tube/wire that runs between them.

Who knows who cares what they do? Toilet won’t flush? Call a plumber.
50 quid callout, 50 quid for the tuppenny part thankyouverymuch.

Not for the first time am I reminded of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy that features an Empire on the brink of collapse where everything is made from black-boxes that nobody knows how to fix because the black-boxes are made by computers/ robots and humans lost the ability (or will) to figure out how anything works.
[This description may be slightly off, but that’s the gist of the beginning of the story anyway -I recommend you check it out if you haven’t already.]


Phew that was a long point and I’m sure I could go on, but I’ll try to be brief with the next one…


4. It has a button instead of a handle.

OK, I’ve seen versions with small buttons on the end of handles, but generally, it’s an inny, not an outy.

“What’s wrong with that?” I hear you cry.

Well, nothing in theory, but in public toilets at least I try not to touch anything I can avoid. Thus, I normally flush with the sole of my shoe. Try doing that with an inny!

OK, this might not be ideal anyway, but at least I do flush.
Nowadays, there’s no avoiding putting your hand/fingers into “toilet crevices” if you’re to do your civic duty. I would argue that the dirtiest of toilets will grow even dirtier and scummier as people evermore refuse to “touch that button”.


5. My son is at the early stages of bum-wiping.He takes pride in his ability to wipe his own bottom, but he does tend to use up a wad of paper on occasion. …The number of times I’m called in to witness the near-overflowing water is not funny.

The problem here (although it’s possibly only on some toilets), is that the U-bend seems to have shrunk because there is less water in the bowl, which leads me on to my final point (for now at least)…


6. I crap bigger than this.

Another “feature” of these new Eco-Toilets is they flush through with less water than before, thus saving the environment from unnecessary soiled water.

But, if you eat a little more (though not a lot) than sultanas and rice it can often (and more often than not for some of us) mean you need to wait for the cistern to refill, then flush again to fully clear the U-bend. Even then a third flush is not beyond the realm of possibility.

So who’s saving water? I flush now more than ever before!


There you have it. I’m glad to have expunged it from my system once and for all. Now you know. Go forth and keep your old bowl -I predict it will be worth money in a few year’s time.


Next up, I just might describe the important factors in choosing a new kettle -and how it seems impossible to find a good one anymore.

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