The Beacon

Green Day, Mate!: Tips from Down Under

During my two week vacation in Australia, I noticed some easy ways Australians save energy every day. Wherever I went, from international airports to hotel rooms, snorkeling boats to youth hostels, I checked out two locations: the bathrooms and the wall sockets.

Before you write me off as some sort of nosy freak, let me explain. I did not encounter one bathroom in Australia that wasn’t outfitted with a dual flush toilet or a single wall socket that didn’t have a switch.

Dual flush toilets work just like their name implies: instead of just one disposal option, users can use a half flush for liquid drops and a full flush for a somewhat heavier deposit. While water conservation is extremely important where I was -- there is a severe drought in southeast Queensland -- these toilets are the standard all over the country. Using the appropriate amount of water during each bathroom visit adds up to real savings.

Australians also limit their use of precious resources with switches on their wall outlets. By turning off power at the wall, you can leave appliances plugged in without passively draining power.

But are these energy saving options available to us in the States? While I have yet to see or read anything about wall outlets with individual power switches, dual flush toilets are becoming more popular. You can buy new or if your finances (and green sensibilities) inhibit you from starting from scratch, you can purchase retrofit kits that transform your standard commode into a throne of sustainability.


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