TOILETS ACCOUNT for 30 percent of a home’s daily water consumption. Of course such wastefulness wasn’t going to go unchallenged in Seattle for long. Back in December, Seattle Public Utilities’ water conservation boss Al Dietemann spearheaded a “flush off” at the Novell Condominiums in the U District, where the public was invited to flush simulated human doo-doo—brightly colored tubes called “water wigglers.” In one corner, your old porcelain throne, draining 3.5 gallons with every flush. In the other corner, a new high-efficiency toilet, the darling of lavatory conservationists, which taps a mere 1.3 gallons per use. The toilets aren’t cheap—prices begin in the low $200s—but Dietemann insists a green loo pays you back in the end, saving up to $100 on your water bill a year, and more than $2,000 over the life of the bowl.

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