With a growing global interest in climate change and sustainability, families nationwide are looking for actionable things that they can do in their own households to make a difference. But the big question weighing heavy on everybody’s mind is how.
How can they help? What can they do? With so many different trends and fads competing with each other right now, it's almost impossible to figure out what you should actually be doing.
One thing that almost anybody can do to reduce their negative environmental impact and improve sustainability without reducing their quality of life whatsoever is investing in the ultimate small footprint toilet - the composting toilet.
A lot of people view composting toilets as something new, an evolution on the raging popularity of hipsters and veganism, but that’s not actually the case. Prior to the invention of indoor plumbing, outhouses and pit-style toilets were the norm.
At first, they were quite simplistic creations, like Henry Moule’s 1860 design that “flushed” a small amount of dirt over human waste to be buried in their gardens at a later date. While primitive, they got the jobs done.
Today, however, composting toilets have evolved to take a much different form. They’re typically waterless (though some use low amounts of water or foam to flush), and process generated waste on-site. For more info on modern composting toilets, see our full guide.
Composting toilets aren’t exactly cheap, costing between $1,500 to $8,000 for a commercial unit (traditional toilets are only a few hundred dollars for comparison), so it’s important to really get into and think about what it’ll bring to your life and how it’ll improve it on a day to day basis.
One key thing to consider, however, is that a composting toilet can be built for a fraction of their market price if you do most of the work yourself. While this naturally won’t be an option for everybody, it’s an interesting idea for the mechanically inclined. All you have to do is buy the materials, watch a few tutorials, and you’re good to go.
Even if you go out and spend a lot of money upfront for your composting toilet, you’ll make some of that money back each month on your electric bill.
While electricity costs vary wildly from city to city and throughout various countries, they all have one thing in common. Composting makes that number go down, down, down. So if you can hold onto your composter for long enough, you’ll actually find yourself spending far less all-in than your neighbor down the street that keeps his household traditional.
One of the greatest, inadvertent benefits of owning a composting toilet is the waste itself. I know that it sounds crazy (it feels crazy to type out too), but it’s true. You’d never believe how multi-dimensional your own waste can be.
That’s where the true beauty of increasing your sustainability lies, reworking things you’ve been fooled into viewing as useless to solve problems in an environmentally conscious, forward-thinking way.
Your new small footprint toilet can also have a big impact. Naturally produced organic waste is the perfect addition to any composting pile, and the number one way people dispose of the waste generated from their composting toilets. Once the compost has been broken down sufficiently and looks like topsoil, you can even use it as a fertilizer for your plants and garden.
Additionally, your organic waste can provide soil with vital nutrients and microbes that will make it much healthier and help your plants grow. Be sure to not use your composting toilet on your edible plants, though. Restrict it to the non-edible ones to ensure everyone stays safe.
Perhaps the most exciting thing to do with your waste byproducts is starting a small fruit tree farm in your background. Not only will it provide you with delicious fruit for years to come, but it could be a fun family activity growing them. And once you’ve got a few trees planted and set up, spread some compost around them to increase the nutrient density of the surrounding soil.
The average American family uses 74 gallons (280 liters) per day. About 33% of that gets flushed down the toilet. Perfectly clean, drinkable water swirling down the drain wasted.
Clean, drinkable water is a luxury a lot of people don’t currently have. According to an Oxford study, around 20% of the world don’t have immediate or easy access to drinking water. With that information in hand, it’s hard to justify the rate in which so many of us flush it down the toilet, especially when we don’t have to.
A single person can save 6,600 gallons of water each year while simultaneously producing around 80 pounds (roughly 36 kilograms) of highly usable compost. With a composting, small footprint toilet, not only can you do your part to keep things sustainable, but you can also take your non-edible garden to the next level. It’s pretty hard to say no to that.
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