Water conservation is a foundation of One Community’s open source strategy for building a global collaboration of self-sufficient and self-sustainable teacher/demonstration communities, villages, and cities for The Highest Good of All. One of the biggest ways to conserve water is through modifications to daily habits that use a lot of water. Toilets are a common area of focus and also an important part of most people’s day. With this in mind, we have made an assessment of the diversity of water-saving toilet options and accessories a part of our open source contribution to comprehensive sustainable living. This page is a collection of our initial research and will evolve with our experience. It contains the following sections:
Toilets are an important part of a person’s day and a primary source of water use. For this reason, we’ve done over 10 hours of research just on water-saving toilets. Our goal is to open source share our group’s experience with each of the toilets below that we incorporate into the Earthbag Village and Duplicable City Center. People have diverse preferences, so we will be naming the bathrooms based on the toilets within and sharing our experience and the feedback we receive.
Areas we assess will include:
We’ll then share here the user feedback and longterm usage patterns/data as an open source guide for how the different toilets compare to each other. These usage patterns/preferences will then be used to make our purchasing decisions for the other 6 villages.
We researched six toilet companies. Benchmarking the sustainability ranking of each company was done using publicly available data and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Sustainability Index’s following 5 areas: Strategic commitments, Value-chain management, Innovation, Environmental Performance, and Social Responsibility. These 5 areas from the AIChE SI Indices were selected because the information for each of them was publicly available. The figure at right shows the elements evaluated and the indices used for each element.
Each company was benchmarked looking at five specific indices within each of the different categories. These consisted of: (1) if there was a sustainability presence on their website (2) if there was a current sustainability report on their website or available to the public (3) what are their sustainability goals (4) what are their sustainability initiatives and (5) what partnerships/collaborations do they have with other sustainability related organizations. Taking all of this data into consideration, we were able to rank them from most sustainable to least.
We researched 6 different toilet companies to assess their sustainability ranking. Caroma was the most sustainable company, but not far behind were Toto, and Kohler. The fourth most sustainable was Niagara, next was American Standard, and then Nature’s Head.*
Using the sustainability ranking process described above, Caroma USA, Toto, and Kohler satisfied all 5 indices. To further differentiate them, we assessed their Sustainability Initiatives and Sustainability partnerships. Caroma USA was ranked #1 because they had clear measurable sustainability goals that were in alignment with the United Nation’s. Also, their initiatives and partnership were aligned to the goals and their measurable results were published in their sustainability report. Kohler was ranked second followed by Toto. We chose Kohler over Toto because their performance in the Initiatives and Partnerships categories was better. The 4th in the ranking was Niagara Corp, even though they had a few sustainability initiatives and partnerships, and a clear statements about sustainability on their homepage, there was very little specific data available on their sustainability goals and we could not find a sustainability report for them. The 5th ranking was American Standard, the sustainability section on their website was small and insignificant and didn’t explain much of what they are doing in regards to initiatives or goals through sustainable measures. There was also no specific sustainability report found for this company. The last in the rank was Nature’s Head, they had some partnerships, but very limited information in initiatives, goals, and no sustainability report. This may be because they are a much smaller organization though.
*Note that these rankings can change based on any changes in their sustainability indices.
The following toilets were selected from over 10 hours of researching everything available on the market as of December 2018. We chose these toilets and accessories based on current water-saving technology, a thorough assessment of the available reviews, price, durability, and features we felt would make them enjoyable to use. We felt #1 was a clear leader from the five top models featured below. Other toilets exist also, but we didn’t consider them as good as the choices here, so we left them off.
NOTE: New technology is always being invented, check the company websites for their newest models. Even as this page becomes dated, the featured products below can be used as a good base-level starting point for your selection process. We wouldn’t recommend any product that doesn’t meet or surpass the quality and performance of the products listed here. This is how we intend to use this page as we build the Duplicable City Center and 7 sustainable village models. If better products are found when we start making our purchases, we’ll open source share here what they are and our personal experience using them.
This dual-flush and low-water toilet design uses an average of 0.6 gallons of water per flush (GPF). This is 50% less than the standard 1.6 GPF. It has a dual flush technology known as “The Stealth Dual Flush” that has primary and secondary chambers for either a full or half flush. When a full flush is used, it uses 0.8 gallons of water and “vacuum assist technology” for additional power to accommodate solid waste. When the “half flush” button is pressed, only the primary chamber is used. This releases even less water to handle liquid-only waste, just 0.5 gallons, which is over 60% less than the standard 1.6 GPF. We chose this product as our #1 even though their company ranked 4th in our sustainability benchmarking because it saves the most water and had so many positive reviews for the effectiveness of its low-flush system.
This dual-flush sink-on-the-back toilet option uses 1.28/0.8 gallons of water per flush (GPF). Installing one Caroma sink toilet can save 1,000 gallons of water a year for each person living in the household. They pay for themselves in a matter of years, if not months. After flushing, fresh cold water is directed through the faucet for hand washing and drains into the tank to be used for the next flush. The large trapway for this model virtually eliminates blockages. This company ranking #1 in our sustainability benchmarking and the innovative faucet on the back (encouraging hand washing without wasting water) made this our #2 selection.
This dual flush and low-water system toilet uses only 1.28 gallons of water per flush (GPF). This is 20% less than the standard 1.6 GPF. This offers approximately 16,500 gallons of water saving a year. The 3:2 flush valve ratio uses the natural force of gravity to optimize flush performance. The durable canister design also has 90% less exposed seal material than a 3-inch flapper, for leak-free performance. A Comfort Height® feature additionally offers chair-height seating that makes sitting down and standing up easier for most adults. We ranked this toilet above the Toto toilet below because Kohler as a company ranked higher (#2) in our sustainability benchmarking.
This dual-flush and low-water toilet design uses 1.28 gallons of water per flush (GPF). This is 20% less than the standard 1.6 GPF. This saves around 63% more water than a 3.5 gallon toilet. This toilet features the “TOTO’s Tornado Flush,” a hole-free rim design with dual-nozzles that creates a centrifugal washing action that assists in cleaning the bowl more efficiently. It also uses the “E-Max Flushing System.” This is a powerful flushing system that saves water by using a wide valve and extra large siphon jet. This E-Max system would possibly rank this toilet about the #3 toilet from Kohler above, but the Toto (#3) company ranked slightly below Kohler (#2) in our sustainability benchmarking. They were very close though.
This dual-flush and low-water system toilet uses 1.28 gallons of water per flush (GPF). This is 20% less than the standard 1.6 GPF. It utilizes the cadet 3 flushing system, which provides a siphon jetted bowl to distribute water effectively. It can handle 1,000 grams of solid waste in a single flush. This smart gravity design creates a dependable one-flush performance with fewer clogs. Ranked #5 because we felt the toilets above had better features and American Standard ranked as one of the lowest companies in our sustainability benchmarking.
The following compost toilets were selected as part of our 10 hours of researching everything available on the market as of December 2018. We chose these toilets and accessories based on water-saving technology, a thorough assessment of the reviews, price, durability, and features we felt would make them enjoyable to use. Nature’s Head toilets were clear industry leaders with the best quality and performance for their price, so we didn’t feature any of those. We felt #1 was a clear leader from the three top models we chose. The biggest reason for not choosing other brands that also offered quality composting toilets was that their prices were so much higher, sometimes by over a $1000 dollars. If you’d like to look at a couple of these, the Separett-USA Villa 9200 AC composting toilet is priced at around $1,200 on the Separett-USA official website. The Sun-Mar Self-Contained Composting Toilet would be another example, this toilet is approximately $2,000 each on the Sun-Mar official website and Amazon.
This composting toilet uses no water and is a very compact, self-contained toilet. Despite its small overall size, it still has an elongated comfort-sized seat. This toilet works at any temperature and separates urine into a separate container that typically needs emptying about every two days. Before use, the toilet is filled with about two gallons of peat moss and as the toilet is used the spider-shaped agitator handle is turned a few times to mix the waste with the moss. The main toilet reservoir needs to be emptied after about 80 uses. There is a vent pipe with a fan, which operates with an 18” single pin cable for the 12 volt fan hookup (fan is mounted onto toilet at time of assembly) to remove any odors. The low volume circulation fan built into the head provides the added benefit of recycling the air in your bathroom, which helps to make the whole environment smell better.
This composting toilet uses no water and has a hand crank agitator in the base of the toilet to speed up the composting process. This toilet is lightweight, odorless, and compact. With its stainless steel hardware, robust construction and user friendliness, it has a design to withstand the harshest of conditions. It is user friendly and has an easy installation process. The Nature’s Head comes with a 12V plug. A 12V transformer/adaptor will be needed if a 110V power line to the toilet is used. Mounting brackets, fuse, fuse holder, agitator, inside vent flange, and 5 feet of venting hose with attached ends are all included with the toilet.
This composting toilet uses no water and is a lightweight, odorless, and compact toilet. With its stainless steel hardware, robust construction and user friendliness, it has a design to withstand the harshest of conditions. It has an easy installation process and comes with a 12V plug. A 12V transformer/adaptor will be needed if a 110V power line to the toilet is used. Mounting brackets, fuse, fuse holder, agitator, inside vent flange, and 5 feet of venting hose with attached ends are all included with the toilet.
Thinking about a composing toilet but still not sure? To help you decide if a composting toilet is a good choice for you, here are answers to the 10 most asked questions about them. Thank you ShopTinyHouses.com for helping write and answer these.
A compost toilet takes the waste just like a flush toilet. A composting toilet is water-less and will turn your human waste into safe and usable compost. The main difference is that the waste is stored and requires someone to regularly turn or spin it to help the composting process along. Just like a regular garden composter, the compost in the toilet needs to be turned to help the waste break down faster.
When people first consider the idea of a new composting toilet, many assume the toilet would stink up the house. They don’t. In fact there is very little odor at all, and what little smell you get is similar to the smell of wood or mulch. Why? All compost toilet works to get as much liquids out of your solids as possible. By separating the solids and liquids you prevent the creation of black sewage water. This sewage water is the cause of most bathroom smells.
Some compost toilets can be mobile. The ones that are usually have a urine diverting component that is usually in the form of a separate and easy to empty urine bottle. These self-contained travel-ready toilets have to also be able to handle violent motion or jarring without being damaged or without waste leaking or spilling. Composting toilet such as the Nature’s Head toilet are like this and can be mobile.
There is no national building law that applies to everyone in the country when it comes to compost toilets. Each building code is set by your individual county, municipalities, and states. You can find your local guidelines with a simple Google search, but it’s always best to ask your local zoning board before buying your compost toilet.
A urine diverting compost toilet, like the Nature’s Head, works by separating the solid and the liquid waste into two separate compartments. By separating the two, you can minimize the smell of the waste in the toilet. In fact, compost toilets often smell better than a traditional flush toilet. When poo and urine mix together it creates sewage and this sewage is what creates the smell associated with a typical toilet. When poop and urine are separated, you create two reusable materials that can safely be recycled back into the environment.
The majority of compost toilets have some sort of venting to help the composting process. A lot of times this does involve a fan. If you are using the toilet full-time, you need to keep the fan on at all times. This is important so you can enable to the compost to process faster. However, if you are not going to use the toilet for 10 days or more, then you should just unplug the fan and empty the solids bin.
This is not recommended. Adding any compostable scraps like veggie scraps will slow down the breaking down of the solids and fill up your waste bin prematurely. Only use the compost medium that is recommended for your compost toilet.
Read your composting toilet’s manual. Usually though, compostable material can go into a compost pile to finish composting or, if you are just looking for a method of disposal, it can be thrown in a garbage bag in the trash.
Composting works from 55 degrees and warmer. The warmer it is, the faster your waste will compost. When the temperature drops to freezing, the compost will be dormant until heat is reintroduced into the area. With compost toilets, liquids will be your main concern. If you have a urine bottle or tubing with urine, it’s best to empty it in freezing temperatures. That said, composting toilets can be used in all climates and the compost and toilet themselves will be unharmed in freezing weather. The composting will just happen faster and work better if you keep the composting chamber in a heated part of the home and/or insulate it.
The majority of composting toilet users have no problems whatsoever with insects. Since there is no odor, the toilet doesn’t attract insects. There can be an exception to every rule though. Some users choose to shovel dirt, wood chips, peat, and/or other types of organic material from their own backyard to function as bulking material. Sometimes these organic materials contain insect eggs/larvae, which can hatch and invade their operation. There are also sometimes examples of flies getting into the chamber if/when the fan is turned off for several days, but if the fan is left on, the constant moving of air being sucked through will prevent any of that from happening.
Our research also included identifying the best water-saving accessories. We chose these accessories based on their water-saving ability, ease of use, assessment of the reviews, price, and durability. All three of the options below were ones we’d recommend equally. Combining Sink Twice with one of the tank inserts would be an especially easy and effective approach to reducing water usage.
This is a sink that can be added to the top/back of a standard toilet. Sink Twice has a patent pending “fill cycle diversion” faucet that efficiently provides a high volume of water for washing hands, brushing teeth, etc. every time you flush. This water then fills the back of your toilet for reuse during the next flush. It includes a soap holder/dispenser space and is specifically designed to prevent splashes. It measures 17” and is recommended for small toilet backs measuring 14” – 16.75” (measured with the lid off).
These water offsetting toilet bag options are created by Niagara Conservation and they conserves 0.625 – 1.25 gallons of water per flush (GPF). They are affordable, maintenance free, and install in minutes. Just fill the bag with water, screw on the lid, and hang the bag inside the toilet tank. The filled bag displaces water in the tank so that the float valve closes sooner, so the tank contains less water, and less is used with each flush.
This water-offsetting toilet bag option is a durable and maintenance-free option. They save 0.5 – 0.75 gallons of water with each flush. This equates to about 4,400 gallons of water annually for a family of four. Installation is fast and easy, simply fill the bag with water and then hang it in the toilet tank. Easy-to-follow instructions are printed right on the bag and the self-sealing and anti-evaporative valve means zero maintenance once installed. The product fits most standard sized toilets.
Our research also included urinals and that led to conversations about female versus male toilet use. This expanded to conversations about pee funnels and menstrual cups. Both our researcher and Pioneer Sara have used, enjoyed, and recommended them before we created this page. So we expanded our research to include all the options out there so we could promote and share those here too.
This pee funnel has a very open design, which allows an individual to get the angle just right in a confined space. It’s long and short (in terms of height), made with hard plastic, but it’s narrow and a little shallower than the others, all of which we think makes it easier to use. We put this one as our top choice because it is affordable, easy to use, and our own experience with it has been 100% positive.
This feminine accessory is a hard plastic funnel with a retractable tube. The tube makes it larger than some of the others but also can be helpful with directing the fluids and reducing splashing when in use. For these reasons, we chose to make this our #2 recommended choice. Comes complete with directions, carrying bag, and 6″ of retractable tubing.
This pee funnel is convenient and compact but many reviews say it is harder to use than the two above. For this reason we made it our #3 suggestion. On the very positive side, it has a friendly looking design and it squishes down to the size of a golf ball. This is because it is flexible and made of moisture and germ resistant, 100% latex free, medical-grade silicone rather than rigid plastic like the two above. It is also developed, produced, and packaged right here in the USA (by a female-run company) proudly keeping jobs local!
Here are the best menstrual cups we’ve found. We’ve listed them in the order we would recommend them.
Like all menstrual cups, the DivaCup is a reuseable, bell-shaped cup that collects rather than absorbs the menstrual flow. It is perfect for all activities (on air, land, or sea), it is easy to care for and use, can be used for up to 12 hours (including overnight) without leaks or worries, and makes the period experience much better. This is also the cup used by both our researcher and Pioneer Sara. It is our #1 recommendation because of the materials’ quality and lack of colors and dyes.
Here is what Lena has to say about their products: “Lena is a reusable menstrual cup that collects your monthly blood flow. Inserted like a tampon, Lena Cup offers a complete protection and an odorless and sensation-free period. Join thousands of first-time menstruation cup users who say they will never go back to using pads and tampons.” We made this our #2 recommendation because of their sustainable packaging.
Here is what Lunette has to say about their products: “At Lunette HQ, we put a lot of energy into knowing the magical mysteries of a menstruating person’s body and applying this knowledge to our products. Team Lunette is doing a lot more than making and selling the best menstrual cups and products on the market — we aim to educate and inform the wonderful world of menstruation.”
Here are purchasing and review links (paid links*) for all of the above toilets and toilet accessories that are on Amazon.
*As an Amazon Associate, One Community earns from qualifying purchases.
Here are any other resources we’ve found (or that have been shared with us) and we think may be helpful:
One Community has invested over 10 hours of research just on water-saving toilets. Our goal is to open source share our group’s experience with all the ones we use as part of the development of the Earthbag Village and Duplicable City Center. People have diverse preferences, so we will be naming the individual bathrooms based on the toilets within and sharing our experience and the feedback we receive. We will evolve this page with those details and use what we learn in our purchasing decisions as we build the 7 sustainable village models.
Q: Where will you be posting your continued research?
We’ll create individual pages with testimonials and YouTube links with more details. We will then link to all of those pages from this page.
Q: What does GPF mean?
GPF is Gallons Per Flush
Q: Was One Community paid or incentivized in any way to choose the toilets we chose?
No, the research to identify and make the selections we made was done by a volunteer researcher without incentives or input from One Community or any company.
Q: Are there any new innovations with water-saving toilets?
Yes, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation created an initiative called “Reinvent the Toilet.” Here is an article about the winners: http://www.gatesnotes.com/Development/Reinvent-the-Toilet-Challenge-Photo-Gallery One Community is also developing an open source Vermiculture Toilet design that uses worms to process human waste into safe compost.