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Saving the World, One Flush at a Time

The View from my favorite Outhouse:

It takes 1.6 Gallons of water to flush the average toilet. (Older toilets require 4-7 gallons a flush.) Ninety-five percent of all household water goes directly down the drain. That’s a lot of wasted water. With several major cities around the world in danger of going dry in the near future, shouldn’t we all be concerned?

One way to reduce wasted water is to flush less often. Yes, I know, that’s ‘Icky.’ It’s impolite not to flush, and what is more important than being polite? Certainly not preserving the world’s fresh water. A few years ago, while visiting an environmentally conscious organic farm, I heard the phrase, “If it’s yellow let it mellow if it’s brown flush it down.” It’s catchy, don’t you think? And it reduces the ick factor. If it’s yellow, it can’t be too gross right? Yellow, after all, is the color of Smiley faces.

And then, there’s the more extreme solution. The out-house. It’s not for everyone of course. If I dug a hole in my front yard and put up an out-house my HOA would…well, they’d shit their pants I think. (No water wasted there!) The thing is, it’s not so bad, using an outhouse. I used one for three weeks and I didn’t mind it. It was a great way to wake up in the morning. Refreshing even. Seriously. I threw on my coat and boots and stepped outside into the bright sunshine and fresh cold air and suddenly I was wide awake. The trek woke me up even more. I love a walk in the morning. The sound of cows mooing, and geese calling and little birdies chirping were an added bonus. And the dusting of snow on the seat that floated in through the cracks during the night? That’s a quick wake up in itself. Better than coffee.
And after dark? That was fun too. When the moon is bright you don’t even need a flashlight. And it’s a great excuse to look up at the stars. I’d forgotten what it was like to gaze up at the stars, without street lights dulling their brightness.

Lately, I’ve begun to wonder how I ended up in the suburbs, living in a carefully designed neighborhood with a whole lot of pavement and green grass (how much water does it take to keep the grass green all summer? Too much, I’m thinking!) There are four toilets in my townhouse. Four. Two each. I cleaned them all today. And I wondered, how many more hours of my life will I spend cleaning toilets?

Someday, when I retire, I’ll live in the country, growing my own organic vegetables, walking on dirt and dead grass, sleeping under the stars on warm nights, and saving water by using an outhouse.

No Bingo, or shuffle-board for this senior citizen!

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