New toilets flush with less gusto

The new residents of McClellan Hall found a surprise waiting for them when they got back to campus for move-in week: instructions for using the toilets in their bathrooms.

As part of a campuswide effort to conserve water, the University this summer installed “green” toilets in McClellan, the annex for juniors in Trumbull and Jonathan Edwards colleges. The UPPERCUT™ Dual-Flush toilets — which flush upward for liquid waste and downward for solid waste — have been a fixture at the School of Medicine for over a year.

“It was kind of weird at first,” Courtney Sender ’10 said of using the toilets, which come with green-colored handles and instruction plaques. “It was funny to find the sign on the back of the toilet. But it is a good idea, and it’s really easy to follow.”

The different flushes release different amounts of water to ensure that the water use is not excessive. According to the Web site of the Sloan company, which manufactures the toilets, this feature saves approximately a gallon of water per flush.

Yale is not the first major university to install environment-conscious toilets. According to Sue Garrison, a spokesperson from Interline Creative Corp, Sloan’s public-relations firm, schools such as the University of California, Santa Barbara and Purdue University have already installed dual-flush toilets.

“When I first heard about the toilets, I thought ‘Oh, awesome,’ ” Zai Divecha ’10 said. “They’ve already had dual-flush toilets in Europe, and I thought it was good idea to save so much water.”

Re-fitting each existing toilet with an Uppercut handle costs about $50, and the water saved as a result pays for its installation within three years, said Jim Allen, Sloan’s president and CEO.

But the low-flow option on the toilets has caused trouble for some McClellan residents. Many students interviewed said they have found the flush is not effective in dealing with waste that cannot easily be categorized as liquid or solid waste.

“On low-flow it just spits out and shreds the toilet paper,” Divecha said. “And on high-flow I have to flush twice to make it go down. The toilet’s already clogged once.”

Others complained that the low-flow option, which uses 1.1 gallons of water, is not practical in daily use.

“These toilets just don’t work,” Will Martino ’10 said. “You have to flush several times, which wastes more water and defeats the whole purpose. It’d be better to just get them out of here.”

The Yale Office of Facilities has forwarded complaints from McClellan residents to the Office of Sustainability. The Office of Sustainability did not return repeated requests for comment.


  • Anonymous

    Please come perform for us…please.

  • Düsseldorf

    It says nothing here about what these toilets do to your actual dumps. The first flush not only "shreds toilet paper" it also grinds your dumps into little pieces, which causes for a disgusting sight and a far worse smell, as much more gas is set free than usual.

  • Jon K. ' 78

    Another possible issue is that a "pipeline" (whether for crude oil or bathroom stuff) needs to have lots of "stuff" flowing through it to flush it out properly (I think).

    Any pipeline engineers out there, reading this ?

    I can't help but wonder if these endless reductions from the original 5-gallon per flush down to almost zero … will just be a bonanza for the Roto-Rooter man ?

    Jon K. '78 (BK)

  • Sad

    While Yale is worried about flushing toilets that are "environmentally friendly" and spends thousands of dollars on it, most people in the third world have no running water and have no food. Waste of money in my opinion.

  • yo

    they say nothing here about the poop. I agree with Dusseldorf, I dropped a doozle and it completely grinded my poop to shreds! I don't care how much money or water is saved or wasted, these toilets STANK!