Stop Flushing Away Our Future

This is a short article on a subject of critical importance to ecology, food security, water security, and our future. There are many ways that we are busily flushing away our future. (See Requiem For The American Dream, A Short History of Progress, When Technology Fails, Koyaaniskatsi, Baraka, The Road Warrior, and Surviving Progress, for an overview.) Here I am talking about one of the major changes we need to make most urgently. This one happens to be remarkably easy.

(Bigger changes include putting extra insulation and weather-proofing in your home, putting solar panels on your roof, going 90% vegan, going organic, buying local, switching to an electric car or at least a hybrid, biking instead of driving, planting a garden, or digging a cistern or a pond, or both. But this change below is simple, easy, and cheap.)

If you are designing or building a home, consider that standard flush toilets (including low flow models) grossly unethical, environmentally destructive in the extreme, and the next thing to the spawn of Satan. They need to be off the list of options even worth considering, along with all fossil fuels, spray foam and rigid foam insulation, to name a few items – all of which are toxic to humans, environmentally devastating, or both. That leaves two options, which I will discuss below.

(Chemical toilets are a non-option because of odour or toxicity, or both.)

Composting toilets are by far the best, ecologically; home made composting toilets (humanure) are better yet. And the newest Earthship water recycling system may be best of all – or at least equal, ecologically and in terms of building self-reliance and resilience, to composting toilets.

The composting toilet system requires emptying once a year, depending on the model (you can hire it done if you are squeemish about manure – which, as a gardener, and we all should be gardeners, you must get over). It can look very similar to standard flush models, or even better, and is a very simple conversion.

Alternately, if you are rural or have a back yard, or even a patio, you can build a tiny “water closet”, toilet room, or WC, and put a purchased or home built composting toilet in there. Or put one in the basement or back shed. Use the composting toilet regularly, and save the eco-destruction flush model for rarities or guests.

Human manure is a taboo subject, traditionally, in the Puritanical West; but in Asia, and in practical-minded Switzerland, it is well known and traditionally used. It is no different from using manure from cows, pigs, goats, chickens or sheep on your garden. In all cases, manure must be properly composted for one year before it is safe either for plants or contact with food gardens. But once composted, it is safe for people and healthy for soils and plants. (Naturally you should wash all veggies before eating, whether store bought or home grown.)

Standard flush toilets that do not recycle black water need to be banned now, immediately. They are tremendously wasteful of water (low flow models are not remotely good enough); and they are effectively taking nutrients from top soil and farmland, and flushing it into waterways, poisoning our rivers, lakes and oceans while degrading farmland. The result is massive systemic soil depletion leading rapidly to crop failure, famine, and a systems crash of agriculture and food production globally; and to increasingly severe water shortages and water wars.

Obviously, upon reflection, these are future scenarios we would wish to avoid. But we are creating them right now – and they are approaching fast, like black clouds marking an enormous hurricane on the horizon, coming our way.

And what are the majority of people doing? With regards to the environmental crisis generally, and other political and social crises, which are interlinked, such as corporate rule and fascism, they are busily creating their own future suffering; and in effect, they are running as fast as they can, headlong into the approaching hurricane.

A global awakening is underway. But we must accelerate it, and make urgently needed changes now, in terms of waste and water systems, energy systems, transportation systems, food systems, and our political-economic systems, or we are in for a very dark age ahead.

JTR,

July 29, 2020

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