Saturday, December 19, 2009


My favorite actor, who moonlights as our plumber, electrician, carpenter, and general handyman (between rehearsals and performances), has slaved over our vintage toilets. We've got three that he's been fixing and re-fixing.

A leak, in my green bathroom, became major. JC turned off the water main, took apart the toilet till he saw that a large washer was cracked and leaking. The guy who owns our neighborhood hardware store looked at it, groaned, and said --"Hey man, where'd you get this toilet? In India?"

We laughed politely. We'd been reading "White Tiger," a darkly comic novel about a boy growing up in rural India, where electricity and indoor toilets don't exist --just holes as depicted in the "Slumdog Millionaire" movie.

It was serious -- any one of our toilets could spring a leak and become unfixable. And our three vintage toilets use about seven gallons per flush. Aside from our sky-high water bills, we were wasting water. Warnings about water shortages in New York City are dire.

Anyhow, with the help of our hardware store and our super, a new, modern, ultra- low flow toilet was installed. Whosh! It was marvelous. We immediately replaced the other two.

Great! Progress! But then I happened upon "Guardian.Co.UK," the Guardian Environment Network, and read about composting human manure -- read an eco-blogger who felt as if a light bulb went off in his head when he learned about "hmanure," and proceeded to replace his porcelain toilet with a bucket.

Here's one of the pictures I found.

I saw a book review on Amazon for the "Humanure Handbook," by Joseph Jenkins. In his book, Jenkins says, proves, and is touting that we stop wasting water, and replace toilets with buckets, and using sawdust to eliminate odor.

Is it something one can do in the heart of New York City?

Practical Em immediately wondered what would we do with the bucket? Use it for our garden, if we had a garden? We don't, though some New York buildings (in the best, high-rent neighborhoods where upper-upper class people live), have wonderful gardens on their roofs.

Meanwhile, I read about other places that have been experimenting.

In Austin, Texas, a nonprofit group, called the Rhizome Collective, succeeded this year in getting the city to approve what may be the first legal composting toilet in the U.S.

An ecologist in Chicago got her neighbors to stop using their toilets and start saving their poop. More than half of them — 22 of the 35 households — accepted her proposal and have been using buckets for the past three months.

In three months the ecologist picked up 1,500 gallons (5,700 pounds) of excrement, which she'll give back to participants this spring to use in their gardens, after she and Mother Nature have transformed it into a rich bag of fertilizer.

In Marin county, a Portable Odorless Outhouse Project, a/k/a MCPOOP, has convinced the county to put humanure toilets in county parks and town squares.

What about toilet paper? Do you drop the toilet paper into the bucket -- does paper with compost affect the viability compost?

Whoa ... One click, and I was reading about re-usable toilet paper, a/k/a "wipes."

Here's the sales pitch: "They're comfy and definitely green, environmentally friendly. You can use them wet, and they won't fall apart. It's a lot more comfortable and soft on your most delicate body parts. It's also more economical, uses less paper and we deliver -- saves you carrying bulky packages home from the store."

Without judging this product, but wondering why it's "more comfortable," I read the instructions on how to use, and re-use "green" wipes?

The manufacturer says:
(1) "Shake, scrape, swish, or squirt off anything you don't want in your laundry, and then toss the wipe into the pail or container."

(2) "Store used wipes in a wet bag or a diaper pail. " (Manufacturer includes a paragraph about hanging, storing in various out of the way places.)

(3) "Wash wipes separately from other laundry, in hot water, with bleach, and any fabric softener you prefer. Dry in the dryer."

Hmm ...

Is this a subject to be discussing on my blog?

Well ... it's in the news, so other people are wondering about it ...

Okay! I'm glad we have the three new toilets, but ... graduating to the bucket, sawdust, and green wipes?

If and when the time comes, I'll vote for it -- I'll join in, but I have to utter a very quiet "ick" and confess -- I'm glad we're not there yet.

1 comment:

David said...

You need to get a hand held bathroom bidet sprayer and then you won't ever have to worry about running out of toilet paper again. With these you can use a towel to just dry off (yes your own personal towel for those with no imagination) and it's much more sanitary. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off" It makes cleaning the toilet itself a breeze also. For those of us who really like to be clean it is the best invention since the toilet. It is so much better than a stand alone bidet and this is why: 1. It's less expensive (potentially allot less) 2. You can install in yourself = no plumber expense 3. It works better by providing more control of where the water spray goes and a greater volume of water flow. 4. It requires no electricity and there are few things that can go wrong with it. 5. It doesn't take up any more space, many bathrooms don't have room for a stand alone bidet. 6. You don’t have to get up and move from the toilet to the bidet which can be rather awkward at times to say the least. Available at

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