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Proper Green: Mellowing Roommate Disputes

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What happens when green bathroom habits aren’t necessarily being clean? Proper Green offers advice on how to deal with this potentially messy roommate situation.
Dear Proper Green,

I moved in with a new roommate, and while I’m all for recycling and turning off the lights, he takes greening our apartment a little too far for me — he follows the saying, “If it’s yellow let it mellow!”

He’s never asked me to follow this rule, but I really hate finding the toilet bowl in that state. How can I get him to stop?

- Mike D.

Dear Mike,

Is it just the idea that has you a little squeamish? Consider the math: On average, a person, ahem, "yellows" 7 times a day1; multiply that by the average 1.3 gallons of water used to "flush it down"(on toilets installed after 1992 — the gallons-per-flush is much higher for older models)2, and we're talking about 63+ gallons of water you could save every a week by following your roommate's favorite mantra (and 127+ if you keep letting him follow it). As I think we can all agree that decreasing the frequency of your flushes is definitely beneficial to Mother Nature, it sounds like the real question here is, "Yes, it's green, but is it clean?"

If you're worried about the cleanliness of the toilet bowl, perhaps you can ask your roommate to make sure he's following up weekly with a good eco-cleaning. There are lots of homemade, natural, non-toxic cleaners you can make for your commode including one here on eHow.

Only you can determine your comfort level with seeing a very personal side of your roommate in your shared powder room. If it's just too much to take, have a conversation with your fellow lodger, and find some compromises — consider all the other ways you can help conserve water in the house. From installing low flow faucets, to taking shorter showers, to saving rain water for watering plants, offer up some solutions that will make him comfortable as well.

Good luck!

Recyclebankers: How have you gotten visitors to abide by your green rules? Share your own thoughts in the comments below!

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About Proper Green

Proper Green is all about good manners in a green world. Ideas about what constitutes proper behavior within the green movement are still evolving; we aim to help smooth the way, so you can lead a greener life and so we can all be respectful of all shades of green. Good manners, like our planet, need care, attention, and dedication. Proper Green is here to help and inspire!

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Proper Green
Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and... more

  • Lisa H. 3 years ago
    good info
  • June N. 3 years ago
    We follow this rule at night. It may mean we're cleaning the toilet more often, though.
  • Denise C. 3 years ago
    It is awesome to be having this conversation. Change requires conversations. My husband hates the yellow, while I don't. (Plus I hydrate so much that I am not very yellow) We compromise. When he isn't home, I keep it yellow. I flush out of respect for him. I know I make an ecological impact, while still respectitng his feelings on the matter. Roomates can find ways to make a difference while keeping respect for one another's differences.
  • Lucy R. 3 years ago
    Great article!
  • Debbi F. 3 years ago
    We have four boys and the "mellowing" really takes its toll. We have to compromise and flush more frequently.
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