Being green in Japan: flushing the toilet

Posted on 14.07.2014


So, the toilets here are a bit different from what I’m used to back in the states, or in Germany. For starters, there’s no German ‘shit shelf’ for me to inspect my poo (for which I’m grateful), but also, since most toilets are separated from the room with the sink, the toilets here have water that runs on TOP of them, for you to rinse your hands.

wash your hands... at the toilet!

wash your hands… at the toilet!

The issue is that the water runs for WAY too long. I’m done washing my hands in mere seconds, and this just keeps going. I’m not sure if this water is wasted, or if it flows right back into the tank, but I have a feeling it’s going to the sewers after it flows through the top of the toilet. This water doesn’t fill the toilet, either, it is completely separate. I think we may go through twice the water of our US counterparts with one flush.

My boyfriend and I practice the ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ idea, as we’re not home very often. Also, we’re a bit lazy when it comes to having to go ALL THE WAY DOWNSTAIRS to get drinks. We both keep water bottles next to the bed, since dehydration due to AC use is normal here.

At first, we just refilled our water bottles using the water from the faucet at the top of the toilet. The water tastes fine, and all of the ‘OMG radiation from Fukushima’ hysteria is falling on deaf ears. They have soft water here, and it seems fine, and it’s being wasted.

But only one of those bottles in the above picture is my actual water bottle. I’ve taken to reusing my old water bottles for water storage for my balcony garden, as well, since the water faucet on the balcony is connected to my washer. So all of the bottles you see in the photo are effectively used to water my plants.

I flush the toilet ONCE, and all of these are filled, AND there’s an overflow. So whenever the bottles are empty on the balcony, I bring them in and leave them in the bathroom. When I’ve got enough of them there, I flush the toilet.

Granted, we flush a whole hell of a lot more during the summer, when the urine starts to smell (the house doesn’t have central AC). But as we pay our own water bill and can see the usage, this extra flushing hasn’t amounted to a huge increase.

I really can’t believe HOW MUCH WATER flows when we flush the toilet. It is a new level of insanity that seems to go right in hand with the ‘3 layers of plastic packaging’ that seems mandatory for food items. This is technically one of the greenest countries in the world, and they are SO wasteful with some things.

Also, after 6 months of drinking the water: no problems.