Tainted toilets

The ethical failings of automatic flush

Graphic by Evan Tremblay

As a first-year student, university has been a place full of new experiences – some good and some bad. Although I am a mere University 1 student, I am not afraid to speak out about an issue I have with the University of Manitoba. The issue I have is one not often discussed in today’s world; nevertheless it is one that must be discussed.

I’m talking about automatic flushing toilets. Certainly created by Satan himself, a number two on one of these is worse than a post-exam hangover. As a human being, when I need to relieve myself, I go to the bathroom. And when I need to poop, I choose the nearest bathroom, simply out of convenience and sometimes, quite frankly, urgency.

Perhaps the result of a design flaw, or some sadistic plumber’s master plan, for some reason automatic toilets’ flush sensors are more sensitive than Drake. This results in it flushing often and usually before you are done your business. If I reach for some TP, it flushes. If I yawn, it flushes. If I check the time, it flushes.

You must become a statue and hold your breath if you want to leave the stall unscathed. Even this is not always enough. I once went to sit down on an automatic toilet which flushed right as I sat down, spraying toilet water in places no one wants toilet water.

Taking a crap at university is far from relaxing;  I would enjoy it much more if dirty water weren’t spraying up my ass every time I cough in the bathroom stall. I may hail from a European background, but that does not mean I want to adopt their barbaric cultural practice of getting cold water sprayed in my nether regions.

The administration may argue that this is not a big issue, and that I am simply complaining because I am not a fan of bidets or the French. However, I am concerned more about the environmental and ethical impact of automatic toilets.

According to the progressive plumbing standards, toilets installed nowadays can flush a maximum of 6 litres. If we assume that every automatic toilet flushes 1.5 times per use, then there is 3 litres of water being wasted each time someone uses the washroom. And if all 28,804 University of Manitoba students use an automatic toilet five times a week, we’re talking about 432,060 litres of water lost weekly. The average Canadian adult only drinks about 547 litres of water a year.

That is a ridiculous amount of clean drinking water being wasted for something completely unnecessary. Water is the most precious liquid in the world and we are squandering it carelessly and selfishly as people die of thirst in other countries. We know that ignoring this issue is morally and environmentally wrong.

My poor, wet buttocks aside, the real reason I wrote this article was to address the ethical and environmental problems associated with automatic toilets. The U of M plays a huge role in water management and has an environmental and ethical responsibility, regardless of whether the administration recognizes it or not.

I’m not asking that the university rip out all of the automatic toilets. However, there must be a way to fix the current sensor issue, or in the future, divest from automatic toilets. I am confident that the university will make the right choice, morally and environmentally.