Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why does it always lead to this?

I'm not sure how many dinners you can get through with your family without some kind of potty humor, especially if you have boys? I grew up with a younger brother and seriously, the topic was often brought up at the dinner table - either through actions like gas, jokes or noises......can anyone relate?

Anyway, I actually think it's pretty useful stuff to talk about if you are interested in greening up your family, that is if you can get past the whole my-brother-is-being-gross stuff!  I was reading some notes today on the Transition Town movement website and noticed some facts about water use in the household.

Did you know this is the average breakdown of where your household water use is?

  • 33% gets flushed down the loo
  • 25% is used washing ourselves 
  • 18% is spent on drinking and in preparing food 
  • 12.5% is used in our laundry
  • 8.5% is used when we do the dishes and,
  • 3% is used to wash the car and water our extensive vegetable gardens!
If you combine the amounts for toilet water, showers/bath, and laundry water - that accounts for a whopping 70.5% of our household water use.  Have you ever wondered what you will say to your grandchildren (or even great-grandchildren) when they ask why we ever took good drinking water - about 6-9 Liters (1.6 to 2.4 gallons) PER FLUSH - pooped in it and then flushed it away!? My goodness!

So what can you do?  There are a lot of different options to help and which one you are able to implement will depend a lot upon your living situation.  If you are renting, then perhaps water saving tips would be most useful to you.  If you own your home and are interesting in eventually doing some renovations there are a variety of options available to you from changing your entire toilet system to re-piping your house to have greywater systems (for sink/showers and laundry for example).  And for the really adventurous - you can switch to composting toilet systems. I've used a few and when properly maintained they don't smell at all!

Here are some resources for you:
Water Saving Tips from Australia - one of the most water conscious countries in the world
Greywater Design Information from Oasis Design in the USA - Publish a very informative book
Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure
To wrap up this text, I have to finish off with one of the coolest inventions I've seen in a long time - The LooWatt. It's a toilet made of 90% horse dung (I know! Go figure?!) where people in developing nations can take the contents to a central outdoor biodigester which provides a free source of biofuel for cooking.  The LooWatt features a biodegradable lining that stores excrement in a sealed, ordor free container.  The system is low-cost mechanical and the design may be useful in many developing countries where installation of sewage systems is impossible, and improper waste disposal spreads many devastating waterborne diseases. VERY COOL!

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
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