We’re Flushing Our Most Valuable Resource Down the Drain – Time for Compostable Toilets

September 14, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Every time we take a dump, we’re flushing more than just poop down the drain. We’re flushing money, energy and our most valuable natural resource — clean water — down it too.

The average American uses nearly 5000 gallons of potable water  per  year just to flush fecal matter down the toilet and even more than that to push it through our sewer systems. That’s over 1.5 billion gallons of water in the U.S alone.

Why are we as Westerners so obsessed with sewer systems that waste fresh water and nutrients and cost a lot to maintain when there are more cost-effective and environmentally sound options?

If you were to collect 12 months worth of fecal matter and completely dry it out, it would weigh a mere 25 pounds, about the size of a duffle bag you’d take to the gym.

That’s small potatoes compared to the 4,757 gallons of dirty water modern indoor plumbing creates. To make matters worse, we need even more water from our dishwashers, showers and sinks, to move it from our pipes to treatment plants. Otherwise, things could get backed up. That’s roughly 80-100 gallons of fresh water per person per day to get down the toilets and through our sewers. For a little context we use roughly 35 gallons for a bath.

If you ever wonder why your bank account is backed up, along with your toilet, it could be the cost of using fresh water to flush your poo. The cost of running a sewer-line from the city to each house is roughly $2,000 per household, not mention the cost of running lines throughout the city and setting up treatment plants.

In King County, Washington citizens spend about $300 million per year to run and maintain sewer systems and treatment plants. Not to mention the cost of sewer overflows — disentangling storm water drains from the sewer system.

Welcome to the world of compostable toilets, where absolutely zero water is used to dispose of our bodily excrement.  Composting is the natural process of decomposition and evaporation to recycle human waste.

There are plenty of brands of compostable toilets that use moss to break down feces. All you have to do is throw it in the trash a couple times a week. It won’t even stink!

But the most affordable and best for the environment is to recycle your own. It’s called humanure.

A humanure toilet is pretty much a wooden box with a lid. Inside the box sits a five gallon bucket. Next to the wooded box is another 5 gallon bucket filled with wood chips or saw dust. Just open the lid, poop, and cover up your handiwork with a couple handfuls of wood chips. When the bucket is full, dump into your humanure bin, where it will decompose for about a year before you can use it in your garden.

Not only will you be saving water, you’ll be saving people too. 25 million die per year simply because they lack sanitary water, and 60 percent are children.

The world is divided into two categories: those who shit in drinking water and those who don’t. We in the Western world are in the former class. We defecate in water, usually purified drinking water. After polluting the water withour body’s excrement, we flush the once pure but now polluted water “away”, meaning we probably don’t know where it goes, nor do we care.” – The Humanure Handbook.