I’m kidding. Kinda.
While my husband abides by most laws and social constructs, he has begun to take the phrase “nature calls” quite literally, so much as is possible.
Because it is better for the earth, our bodies, and society as a whole.
There are some ‘green’ habits that I LOVE, and others that take a little convincing. I was (and am) that girl that avoids talking about poop and utilizes the phrase ‘passing gas’ to dress up what many term, ‘farting’. I am outdoorsy, but I have my limits. Moving away from my porcelain throne, and seeking a more natural outhouse, is definitely a habit that will take a little getting used to. However, after researching toilets and modern plumbing, I will admit, my husband’s newest form of living out permaculture principles, may have some merit.
The problem with our modern “flush” toilets:
- Water Waste.“According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an average household of four uses about 400 gallons of water each day, and toilet flushing alone can account for over a quarter of that total.” Fresh water is a sought after commodity, and we use, at minimum, 5 liters
(and sometimes more for older toilets) to flush the toilet. According to an article titled “Humanure is No Laughing Matter”, By Jonathon Engels “The toilet accounts for over a quarter of the water usage in the average US household (and not far off in most other industrialized nations). Obviously, this means that over 25% of the fresh water we use in our homes has no greater purpose than to usher human excrement away.”
Our society uses copious amounts of water! I never recognized how much water we use, until I lived in Bethlehem, Israel for 5 months. While living there, water to the city would periodically be shut off for days, sometimes weeks. We had to preserve every single drop, and I became very conscientious very quickly, of how much water it takes to do simple activities, like wash my hands, wash vegetables, take a shower, or flush the toilet.
- Pollution. Marine life pollution is something we need to take into account. Also, fresh water pollution is a concern. (I live near Lake Michigan, and there are often warnings about the toxicity of the water due to sewage leaks). Furthermore, soil systems and land masses are often hurt in the process of putting sewage pipes throughout cities and towns.
The benefit of outdoor toilets and/or composting toilets:
- Less Odor. “They” say composting toilets leave less odor than normal toilets, because of the ventilation system. When the waste is released it is suctioned into a different area, and that air flow aids in pulling odor out of the toilet bowl and room rapidly. This article explains more about how the odor is reduced.
- End Product is Recycled. Our plumbing system, as it stands, requires bleach, and a ridiculous amount of extra chemicals to “rectify” our perfectly natural excrements. While it is true that our poop and pee does require some time and attention before it can be used as compost. It does not require all of the chemical toxins that “ok” it to be dumped into our oceans and lakes.
- Lower Cost, Overall. A system of composting our own feces and peeing onto the land requires absolutely NO enormous processing plants, chemical cocktails, or water bills. Sewage can be an expensive part of being a homeowner, and composting toilets helps to offset that. In fact, in Milwaukee County ALONE, 70 million dollars is charged by the city for water sewage treatment, per year! You can find this information HERE. 70 MILLION dollars!!! Can you believe that? Needless to say, our modern plumbing structure not only costs us individually, but it costs us as a society.
- Reducing the problems of water waste and pollution mentioned above. 🙂
Permaculture is all about figuring out a way to bring abundance and quality to our everyday lives, while preserving a world that allows future generations to do the same. Our modern plumbing system is not cost effective for the public or our government. In addition, the “cleaning” and dumping process is not only toxic and expensive, but it is misusing a vast amount of waste that could be healthfully recycled back into our natural ecosystem.
As an admitted ‘princess’, this was one of the hardest blogs, I’ve ever had to write. However, sometimes, even a princess has to admit, it is better that our ‘dumps’ be beneficial to the environment than purely expensive and toxic”waste”.
So what can you do? First of all, on a personal level, follow the saying “If it’s yellow, let is mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.” This will, at least, curb your water usage. Another cool tactic to conserve water is this super creative sink built above the toilet, so that the water we use to wash our hands can be recycled into the toilet.
Then, look into composting toilets. Composting toilets give us our clean ‘porcelain throne look-alike’, while also giving back to nature’s cycle. Is it possible to get a composting toilet where you are?? They are not that unusual, Home Depot even carries them! (Look for a blog coming later this spring about our adventure with our first composting toilet). Seek places that allow you (legally) to relieve yourself outside. Look into creating greywater systems and learn about how you can conserve water in your household. Then start sharing this blog and others like this one, to get the word out, and create awareness. Maybe, someday, our modern plumbing system can make greater, more earth friendly, advances…and people can start being responsible for their own sh** 🙂