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Eco-Friendly Toilets: Your Questions Answered

By the Vevano Home Team
March 25, 2021

The world continues to grow ever more conscious about natural resources and that includes water usage. Using less water is both environmentally friendly as well as easier on your wallet in terms of water and sewage bills.

Toilet flushing alone accounts for nearly a quarter of all indoor household water use, making that the best place to start on your journey to becoming more water-conscious within your home.

A lot can go into choosing a toilet for your bathroom, especially a water saving toilet, so here’s a guide on how to choose an eco-friendly toilet based on your frequently asked questions.

The History of Flushing Toilets

The first toilet that emerged in the 16th century used several gallons of water for a single flush. We’ve come a long way since then. And yet, most toilets made before 1982 used 3.5+ gallons of water per flush (gpf).

In 1994, through the Energy Policy Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated that all toilets use only 1.6 gpf. A few states have taken up the challenge further by restricting flushing limits to 1.28 gpf, such as California, Texas, New York, and Georgia. Colorado has even made WaterSense-certified toilets a requirement.

Currently, 1.28 gpf is considered the gold standard for high-efficiency toilets (HET), which is required for a WaterSense® certification from the EPA along with other performance benchmarks. Ultra-high-efficiency toilets (UHET) further enhance water savings and are especially eco friendly, using between 0.8 and 1.1 gpf.

Now, low flow toilets are all the rage in terms of efficiency and water conservation, and it’s easy to see why.

What’s the difference between GPF and GPM? How do they help water conservation?

Gallons per flush (GPF) is specific for toilets and urinals, whereas Gallons Per Minute (GPM) is also known as the flow rate, which is applicable for showerheads, faucets, and hand showers.

The lower the GPF and/or GPM amount, the less water used which means less water wasted. The ideal GPF for an eco-friendly toilet is less than 1.28 gpf to conserve water, even though 1.6 gpf is acceptable in most American states.

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense® label can apply to both categories of plumbing (toilet/urinals and showers/faucets) and implies that products with the label work towards water conservation efforts. In order to gain the certification, they must rate high in both water efficiency and flushing effectiveness, as they meet strict water flow performance guidelines established by the WaterSense® program. For toilets, the GPF should be 1.28 or lower, whereas for showerheads 2 GPM is required to earn the WaterSense® label.

bathroom faucet

Which flushing types use the least amount of water?

Toilets will either come in single or dual-flush models. From there, the types of flushing technology will further determine how eco-friendly your toilet is.

Gravity-Assist Toilets - Like the name suggests, gravity is the worker in this low-flow toilet type as gravity ushers water from the tank into the toilet to whisk the contents away through the trapway. It’s often found in single flush toilets and as the half flush in many dual-flush toilet models. Since this isn’t a “power” flush, you may find that you need to flush more than once on occasion to fully clear your toilet. This is the lowest cost option and it’s the most common, so it’s also easy and affordable to fix if any issues arise.

Dual-Flush Toilets - A dual-flush toilet, sometimes called the double-flush toilet, often has two flush buttons or a lever with two distinct levels of a flush. It marries a gravity-fed flush for the half flush meant for liquid waste (approx. 0.8 - 1 gpf) with pressure-assisted flushing mechanisms for a full flush for larger loads (1.28 - 1.6 gpf). Dual-flush toilets are growing in popularity due to the water savings they offer (about 20 percent less water than the conventional single flush options), though they are a little more expensive.

Pressure-Assisted Toilets - Waste doesn’t stand a chance against pressure-assisted toilets. This is the powerful flush using pressurized air to force the water and waste down harder and faster for a more efficient flush. Pressure-assisted toilets are not very quiet, but they get the job done with fewer clogs and less water. Thanks to using a plastic insert to hold the water, these toilets also won’t sweat, making them even more eco friendly. Pressure-assisted options cost on average 30 percent more than conventional toilets and also cost more to fix.

Vacuum-Assisted Toilets - A brand new option on the market, vacuum-assisted toilets have the power of the pressure-assisted toilet in clearing waste from the bowl but without the noise. Vacuum-assisted toilets suck the water and waste from below, rather from the top. This flushing technology is highly efficient and most models use 0.8 gpf or less, making it one of the most eco-friendly flushing technologies available.

Double-cyclone Toilets - Another newer technology, double-cyclone toilets use minimal water for a powerful and efficient flush via two “cyclone” nozzles to usher the water and waste down the piping, as opposed to the little holes in the rim where water is usually pushed through in other models.

What about water-free toilets?

There are a few water-free toilets on the market today. Water-free toilets don’t use water or plumbing at all and the waste is kept in the interior receptacle until removed. Water-free toilets are a great option where plumbing may not be readily available, such as camping, worksites, tiny homes, and other portable locations.

Composting toilets are a type of water-free toilet, but they use anaerobic processes for waste decomposition, plus evaporation processes to remove water, to make human waste safe to use for composting.

What should I look for when choosing an eco-friendly toilet?

For your water conservation efforts, look for toilets with the EPA’s WaterSense® label that indicates both water and flush efficiency, ensuring only 1.28 gallons of water (or less) are used per flush. That’s nearly 60 percent less water per flush than most other toilets, which can save American households up to $100 per year on their water and sewage bill.

Certain brands of toilets may also come with their own technology or label that suggests they take water conservation seriously. For example: American Standard products (toilets, showerheads, faucets, etc.) with their signature FloWise® technology ensures great performance with the highest possible level of water savings. American Standard reports that the average family saves up to 33,000 gallons of water each year using plumbing with their FloWise® technology.

eco friendly toilets

What is a MaP rating for toilets?

Maximum performance testing (MaP) is a flush rating system that classifies toilets based on their flushing capabilities, or how much solid waste a toilet can handle. The rating takes into account the toilet’s ability to remove waste and reduce/resist clogging. The higher the rating, the better the flush. A rating between 600g-1000g, which removes about 35 grams of waste in a single flush, is considered Great Flushing Performance in MaP.

More than 3,800 toilet scores can be found on the MaP testing website, see how your toilet ranks!

What eco-friendly toilets do you recommend?

We offer a few low water consumption, high-efficiency toilets from different brands on

American Standard FloWise Elongated One-Piece Toilet - This high-efficiency, ultra-low consumption toilet uses 20% less water than conventional toilets without sacrificing performance (water consumption is 1.28 gpf). This elongated model combines style, comfort, power, and efficiency into a seamless one-piece design. It also features EverClean, which prevents mildew and the growth of stains, as well as a slow-close seat for safe and quiet closing.

american standard one-piece toilet

Toto Drake II Elongated Two-Piece Toilet - Simply and beautifully designed with an elongated bowl, this toilet model features the quiet advantage of Toto’s powerful, water-saving Tornado flushing system, which only requires one flush. This toilet also features CeFiONtect glaze that prevents the build-up of mold, mildew, limescale and waste, keeping your toilet cleaner. Seat comes separately (pair it with a Toto washlet, a bidet seat attachment).

toto drake toilet

We also carry many dual-flush toilets that offer the half & full flush options for liquid and solid waste to optimize your water use.

Brands that have stepped on board to produce popular high-efficiency toilets include Toto, American Standard, Kohler, and more.

Anything else should I consider when choosing a new toilet?

Ultimately, it comes down to size (check that rough-in size), type of toilet, type of flush, budget, and your preference for each to suit your home. For more details, see our guide to choosing a toilet in 5 simple steps.

If you want to go a step further in conservation and money savings, consider an integrated bidet toilet combo or a bidet seat attachment. Not only do bidets and bidet attachments use minimal water (⅛ of a gallon), they also reduce how much paper waste you use in terms of toilet paper, which saves the trees and saves you money.

Bidets are a great way to further elevate your experience in the bathroom since bidet seats and toilets often come with a host of other comfort features such as jetted water cleansing, heated seats, air dry, water temperature control, air freshener, and more. Due to these features, bidet toilets and bidet seat attachments require electric support and usually a water hookup as well. If you want to know how standard toilets fare against bidet toilets, we break that down here.

For a deeper dive on toilets overall, their construction, and accessories, see our ultimate guide to toilets here.

No matter the type of toilet, always check customer reviews for experience and reliability.

More and more toilets are being made with water conservation in mind, so there’s no doubt that you can find an eco-friendly toilet that meets your needs, works within your budget, conserves water and other resources, and creates a seamless experience in your bathroom. Reach out to our designers today for further questions on updating your bathroom.