By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Chances are there’s an Earth Day celebration near you this month.  (Still looking for one? Check out, which not only lists major events, but invites you to take a green pledge under its Billion Acts of Green campaign, which is very close to logging its billionth act.)

HydroRight dual-flush converter

HydroRight dual-flush converter

As you can imagine, I’ve been to dozens of green festivals and Earth Day fairs over the years. It’s a must for someone writing about green living practices. And it remains a pleasure.

At each new fair I am heartened to see we’re evolving into a society that’s more mindful of its impact on the natural world, and even though progress is sometimes achingly slow, we’re finding paths to sustainability.

Then again, I get excited about dual-flush toilets. I know, it’s not The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…. And yet, the dual-flush has come a long way!

The dual-flush toilet that tickled my radar this past weekend was actually a kit that converts an existing toilet into a lean, mean dual-flush machine for just 20 bucks.

It’s a double win: It saves water, costs relatively little to install, and pays for itself within about a year.

I have one, actually. It works great and it’s been a comfort to know that flushing no longer wastes needless gallons of potable water; water that in another part of the world would be considered far too valuable for such a chore. I’ll save the lecture, but just consider for a moment that those of us in the developed world can command a glass of pure, disease-free water to flow instantly from our tap. (Unless of course we live in a major city that hasn’t fixed its lead-leaching pipes. But I’m kidding. Not really.)

Here’s the story on toilets. Once upon a time, they routinely consumed two to three gallons to flush. No one thought much about that. But multiple three gallons by even three flushes a day, per toilet, per neighborhood, per city, per state etc. It’s a no-brainer that we’re contaminating a lot of water that later needs re-filtering and sanitizing at the other end. So there’s a water cost and an energy cost and a chemical cost associated with this simple function that we all take for granted.

Dual flush toilets can now get the job done for less than a gallon per flush – and that will save water, energy, chemicals etc., rippling outward like a blessing. Well, almost like that.

So you’ve got two options. When you replace your toilet, get a dual flush model or a low-flow model that uses less water all the time (a little over a gallon for all flushes) or, if your toilet works just fine, you can try converting it with a dual-flush adapter kit.

The dual-flush adaptation device I saw demoed at the fair, the Hydro Right, reduces the water used for light flushes by one-third, even in low-flush toilets. The “heavy” flush uses the same amount of water as the toilet would otherwise. This isn’t the only model out there. Shop it, and check out comments from users.

And get to a green fair. You may just find something that thrills you.

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