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Toto Out to Save not Just Africa, One Flush at a Time

Japanese Western Toilet
Japanese Western-Style Toilet

Consider the environmental impact of going to the john and you’re bound to stumble on something stinky.  Just think of this, more than a quarter of freshwater that a household uses, 27% in fact, is literally flushed down the toilet. With an acute shortage of freshwater in many areas around the world, there’s no laughing at that kind of toilet humor.

Enter Toto, not the American band that sang about Africa, but the Japanese toilet maker that gave the world the Washlet (more on this later). The company is on a mission, not just for sanitation, but also for environmental conservation. They try to balance out a person’s need to defecate in peace while reducing the adverse environmental impact of the daily deposit. They’ve reduced the water drained per flush to a gallon (3.8 liters) from the usual 3.5 gallons (13.2 liters) to address this issue.

Then there’s the issue of tissue. According to Euromonitor International, Americans love to use paper in the can (sorry for all the bad puns) at 60 pounds per person per year (27.2 kgs/person/year) while the average German just uses 33 pounds per year (15 kgs/person/year). It doesn’t help that a lot of what is used at home is made from virgin pulp, which bloody means that trees had to die.

Toto’s answer, the Washlet. It’s a contraption attached to the toilet seat that doesn’t make you feel like crap when you’re, well, taking one.  On the contrary, it sends water where presumably, “no man has gone before” – your nether region after taking a dump.  It not only saves trees from becoming sheet, it also makes your tush cleaner, like it would after you take a shower.

And what about the times you flush just to camouflage the sound of your bottom’s uncontrolled air and detritus gush? It’s bad enough that you flush down around 3.5 gallons (13.2 litres) every time you pull the lever. In a study conducted by Toto (again not the American band, but the Japanese loo brand), Japanese women flushed an average of 2.3 times they visited the john, to mask the sounds whenever deed number two is being done.

Enter Otohime or “princess sound”, that concocts a flushing sound when you’re in the lavatory.  At the press of a button, a sound is emitted from a speaker that simulates, well, running water.  “In an office building that houses approximately 1,000 employees, adding the princess sound to each ladies’ room leads to annual water bill savings of roughly JPY 3.8 million (US$37,000),” Toto spokeswoman Nariko Yamashita says. “Even a small restaurant with a single toilet can save JPY 80,000 (US$790) a year.”  That’s a lot of dough that would have gone to douse a few bricks.the_thinker

But the fun doesn’t stop there, Toto is now introducing “E-water Plus,” or electrolyzed water. This reduces the need to use toilet cleaning chemicals, which aren’t exactly eco-friendly. E-water acts like water in the tank and in the bowl, and activates as it makes its way down the drain. Not only does this save money, and the environment, it also saves you the effort in doing that kind of dirty, which is no fun at all.

All in all, the Japanese are doing some thinking to address all our stinking.  We hope that pumps into our minds the thought that there is a better way to take a dump.

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