Editor’s note: OK, we’re usually not so potty-mouthed, but, as you’ll see, it’s perfectly (and literally) appropriate this time around. We’re pleased to have Simran Sethi and Sarah Smarsh join us as guest contributors, and share with you their series on the surprising journeys of everyday things. They will be posting previews on Green Options before launching the posts on Huffington Post. Here’s a sneak peek at bathroom fun.
What you may not realize, cherie, is that whatever you flush down comes back around. Our waste fertilizes our fields and is pumped back into the waterways that are our major sources of drinking water. Let’s take the journey from toilet to tap, shall we? Oui oui. (We’re affecting French here for a touch of sophistication in a post centering on fecal matter.)
Americans use about 70 gallons of water indoors, every day. About three-quarters of that is used in the toilette—shower, bath, sink, crapper—and over one-quarter is used whisking away our waste. You can cut this water usage by making sure your toilet isn’t leaking, using a composting or low-flow toilet or even displacing the water in the tank with a brick or container filled with sand . Your toilet is not a trashcan, so save cigarette butts, tissues and used condoms for the basket, not the bowl.
We don’t want to bum you out, but cutting water usage means a lot in an era when more than a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. According to Claudia McMurray, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, “On any given day, approximately 50% of the world’s hospital beds are filled with patients suffering from water and sanitation related diseases. Each year 1.8 million children in developing countries die from diarrheal disease – the second leading cause of death after pneumonia.”
When aiming for more equitable water usage, hippie wisdom comes in handy: If it’s brown flush it down; if it’s yellow, let it mellow. S’il vous plait. (Our hippie is French.)
The crapper journals continue on Huffington Post.
Thanks to the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Lacey Johnston for research assistance.