Stop ****ing In Our Drinking Water

Bill Gates just announced a major initiative to reinvent the toilet. BRAVO BILL! It takes balls the size of Micorsoft's yearly profits to go public and say that there must be a better way. To be certain; he is addressing the bigger picture of the world-wide problem of improper sanitation and lack of access to a clean place to take a simple dump. I'm talking only about the ubiquitous, and silly, average american toilet.

It is impossible for our culture to not snicker at anyone who tries to reinvent the humble throne. The fastest way to get shot down by the judges on the reality show "American Inventor" was to walk in with anything connected to a toilet. The background music might as well have been the pitiful "wah wah wah..." loser sound bite. Thankfully, some people have started questioning the sanity of flushing a toilet with drinking water. The "Water Legacy" is a filtration system for the home that recycles and routes grey water into the toilet. Good grief! What took so long for this to be be considered? Modern plumbing codes don't allow grey water systems in most places - cross contamination may have been a real problem in the past and separate utility systems would have to be addressed on a massive scale to handle greywater separately but we can't simply continue spending billions of dollars to sanitize all wastewater into drinking water, piping it to our homes straight into a toilet for a few minutes before someone in our family comes and contaminates it and sends it down the pipe back to the sewage treatment plant again. Absolute insanity when you even consider it for a second. Just consider this factor alone: How much drinking water is wasted every day flushing our toilets? (in very round numbers)

The approximate US population -  312,000,000. This includes about 7% of the population under the age of 5. Being very generous here to say that kids under five are not potty trained yet (they probably mostly are or dern well better be - but they didn't give a percentage for under 2 years old.)  We subtract out their population to derive at 290.2 million toilet users. 

Calculating  how many toilets there are  (somewhere between 225 to 350 million), how big the average home is or how many bathrooms there are (2700 square feet and 2.5 bathrooms - 3 toilets in other words)  is more or less irrelative because all you have to do is consider that a toilet user is going to find a toilet to use whether it is at home, school, work, etc. 

How many times a day do we flush our toilets? Plenty of polls are asking for your vote but no serious consensus can be found.  I read the nice even number of 5 times/day plenty of times. 

How much water does a toilet use? Old toilets flushed with 3.4 gallons. HET - high efficiency toilets - use 1.3 gallons. Ultra HETs use as little as .8 gallons. There were plenty of cursed low flush toilets sold that used 1.6 gallons that pretty much demanded you flush them twice to get it all down the pipes. Dual flush toilets and conversions are available that use even less water to flush pee by itself. Calculations get complicated real quick in guessing how many of each type of toilet is used, how many times a dual flush toilet is used per day just to flush pee, blah, blah, blah. It may be impossible to ever know because it is not accurately tracked by anyone apparently. A neilson type home survey of 1000 american's toilet habits over a six month time period would be most fascinating. Only for arguments sake and being conservative can I throw out the average water consumption as 2 gallons per flush.

290,200,000 flushers x 5 times/day x 2 gallons/flush. There it is: 2.9 billion gallons of fresh, highly processed drinking water wasted per day to usher **** down the pipe. Amazing. 

I don't even want to consider how many Olympic size swimming pools that is. It's 440. 

Our toilet, as mentioned before, is a SunMar composting unit with a ceramic ultra low flush toilet. Probably less than 3 cups to flush. And our three member family flushes it about 5 times a day total. A gallon a day to flush our toilet. It's not using grey water - yet. But we do have grey water for the rest of our plumbing system. Rainwater for irrigation. And me and the boy pee outside. A lot. OK, most folks don't have 12 secluded acres of living space to have that most basic luxury of life in the country. Sigh. It all seems sensible, economical, and normal to us and not the least bit uncivilized or inconvenient.