When Eco-Solutions Backfire

Two things to get off my chest: the EPA-regulated gas cans and DIY water-saving toilets. While I embrace the technologies that make sense ecologically, I can be absolutely devastated (I’m that sensitive) when the little solutions go wrong. I guess I’m just built this way emotionally, believing everything is either saving or destroying the world.

Gas and Mowing/Farm Equipment

There’s so much literature about the politics of lawns
right now. This book has been with me for a while.

Living out here on fifteen acres in rural Indiana, even though a good ten acres of my grasses are in conservation programs and go un-mowed below 12 inches (and only then once a year if deemed necessary for maintenance reasons), I still have complex feelings about the few acres of non-garden yard that remains. I came here from the city in the Arizona desert, where xeriscaping was the unequivocal answer, both from a water and an emissions perspective. It’s not that simple out here. It’s not a super easy matter to replace one ground cover with another. Anyway, I wrestle. I read books about lawn alternatives. I re-read books. I stress. In the meantime, I mow.

These spouts are terrible

Now, we inherited a few old gas cans with the property that work fine. However, a year and half ago we had to buy a new one. If you’ve bought a gas can in recent years, you’ve seen the new spouts from hell. They were designed to prevent fumes leaking and spilling, and yet, hands down, they are an environmental disaster. Maybe they work for some people, but I’ve not met any of them. Since I got the faulty EPA can, I’ve spilled gallons! I’ve spilled more gas than in the previous years of my entire life combined. Gasoline pooled on my mower, on my clothes, on my barn floor. I’m sensitive enough that it made me feel like giving up altogether. If you can’t fill your mower without accidents like those, how can you ever feel you’re doing the right thing out here?

It’s not just me. Here’s a news report detailing the problem, and here’s a handy show detailing the solution. (E-Z Spout, a simple spout you can retrofit your gas can with and finally stop spilling f-ing gasoline!)

I’m such a fan of the Environmental Protection Agency in general. I’ve sent letters to my local power co-op asking them to lay off in their editorials claiming the EPA is directly responsible for higher electric bills. (Electric companies have had decades to comply with regulations and transition to clean energy, but they dragged their feet and now are blaming the agency that warned they will charge them for polluting.)That said, we have to acknowledge a regulatory disaster when it’s staring us in the face, and these gas cans are such ammunition for the anti-regulatory folks out there. The story, roughly, is that California came up with these gas spouts, and the federal agency (too) swiftly adopted them. Gas can manufacturers did not have time to make ones that aren’t terribly faulty, so the eco-solution backfired.

So: I bought the EZ-Spout, modified my gas can, and now I don’t want to cry when I fill up my mower. The larger mowing questions will be addressed in time. In the meantime, suffice it to say that rural living does not carry the same solutions that urban and suburban living does.

The Dual-Flush Toilet Modifier

Then there’s this guy: a flush apparatus I ordered from amazon a few years ago. You don’t have to replace your whole toilet — just modify it with this affordable kit. When you’re finished installing, you can use a little water or a lot, whichever is necessary. Sounds great.

Except it’s faulty. The chain and floater thing-y don’t always return to the right place. It can be fixed by jiggling the handle and listening for the water to stop flowing. But if a guest comes over and you forget to tell them about it (or if they don’t have the feel for it), water will continuously run. The tank never fills; water just runs through the tank and toilet. Just as with the EPA gas can, the purpose is mightily defeated. More water is wasted in one flush than ever before.

I failed to find the link for the product I bought (www.one2flushkit.com seems to be defunct). A new internet search revealed some more advanced looking kits from different manufacturers. It’s possible that I just ordered a cheap kit, and am paying (over-paying) for the mistake.

We use well water out here. Our issues are different from those on city water, but we all need to conserve water. This problem remains unsolved; we’re just vigilant about listening after a flush.

So really just a plea: to the problem-solvers out there, make sure your solutions actually work. We’re depending on you.