If You Want to Save The World…. Don’t be a Doctor

In an environmental science class a few weeks ago we were examining the various areas of domestic water use in the United States. Aside from the massive amounts of water used for farming and power generation,  flushing toilets was the largest water use in homes.At this point our professor told us “Don’t become a doctor, go into sanitization if you want to save the world”. For the remainder of the day all I could think about was the how much water I was using each time if flushed. Not just myself but the constant flushing of toilets throughout campus….

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The solution to stop flushing drinking water “down the toilet” is to stop using water as a means of sanitization. One solution to this issue it the waterless toilet. Fundamentally the toilet is disconnected from a water supply and also disconnected from a septic or sewage system. There are two option and personally I feel the system that turns the waste into compost is more valuable then the alternative design that incinerates the waste. In the first design the waste is composted through the addition of temperature, moisture, oxygen, nutrients and bacteria. The degree of temperature decides the the use of the composted material.  At heightened temperatures this compost can be used safely as fertilizer for food-producing gardens.

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Why? You may ask why this design has not taken off in the U.S. and in developing countries that severally lack sanitization and have limited water resources. Well, the designs are expensive and there are safety standards, primarily in developed countries, that make it harder to implement this method. Additionally some of the low quality systems can lead to major problems during use, cleaning, and emptying. The final reason is simply that these systems require more then your standard toilet.  To avoid problems you must caring for and monitor the compost. Personally , considering the extensive cost of water and deaths caused by unsanitary conditions, I feel that the waterless toilet business is how you can save the world.

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