Last August, I wrote an article on compost toilets and how they can help towards a meaningful reduction in water consumption, prompted by the (at that time) unimaginable heatwave (40ºC) we had in the UK. Who knew that less than twelve months later, drought and excess temperature would be in the headlines again!
Most people are completely unaware of how much water they directly consume (in other words, the water that is pumped into and used within their dwelling for daily life and activities).
Average UK domestic water consumption is 140 litres per person, per day.
Up to 30% is used for flushing the toilet.
By having and using a waterless toilet, there is massive scope for a reduction (up to 30%) in water consumption, together with associated reduction in sewerage and the costs, energy and infrastructure used for processing it.
We should care greatly about this, not only because the UK climate (like many others) is getting hotter during the summer, which together with changing land use, means droughts are becoming more common and are happening earlier in the year.
For example today, June 16th 2023, a hosepipe ban has been announced in Kent and Sussex as freshwater supplies have dwindled after not fully recovering from the incredibly hot summer in 2022.
Data from the Met Office (see images below) illustrates the increase in mean temperatures, decrease in rainfall, and increase in sunshine duration, all of which are having serious effects on the wider environment and water supplies.
For a more detailed look and explanation of the data, have a read of this details article published on Carbon Brief:
We are living in a time of unparalleled climate change and one aspect of this (and there are many others) is resulting in demand and supply pressures on drinking water supply.
For me, it makes sense to consider implementing compost toilets in domestic premises, even if just as a ‘second loo’, so the home owner has the ‘reassureance’ of a conventional toilet but the choice of saving waster or not.
With up to 30% of domestic water consumption being for flushing the loo, installing compost toilets would have an immediate and massive impact on water consumption.
What are the barriers to a wider adoption/use of compost toilets?
People have perceptions of compost toilets, perhaps as a result of using a bad one at a festival or event, without realising that modern domestic compost toilets don’t smell and can look very ‘normal’.
Many people are also very faecophobic and the thought of the contents of the toilet not being ‘flushed away’ bother them.
Compost toilets can also been seen as a ‘last resort’ and installed in places where people really want a flush toilet, but for reasons of location (water or sewage availability) cannot.
There are no magic answers to these issues, other than a slow and steady education of people to see the advantages and usability of compost or waterless toilets.
However, my concern is whether ‘we’ have time?