We don't all have the same weather at the same time, I know, but we do all experience hot and sunny weather at some point — so if just now it is your winter or pouring with rain where you are, perhaps to bear in mind that this will not always be so.
Here in England we are going through an abnormally fierce heatwave. Some of our urban settlements are finding it hard to conserve enough water to support normal domestic consumption.
A few months ago in the Spring, we had plenty of rain but as the coronavirus pandemic took off, people began to stockpile toilet paper, leaving insufficient supplies in the shops to support normal domestic consumption.
With a degree of reluctance, because some things are best kept private, I feel it may be time to talk about toilet habits.
There are two pathways to consider; one for those who have a garden, another for those who do not.
Garden people first.
If you have a garden, it is helpful to know that human pee is one of the best nutrients for plants. At one point (I don't know if they still do this) in Oxfordshire they were collecting tankers of it to put on the land. If you put your (diluted) pee on the garden, your plants will flourish magnificently, need no expenditure on plant food, and grow crops appropriate to your health profile. Plant food comes in plastic bottles and we are encouraged to reduce our generation of plastic waste. Using human pee instead avoids that problem. So if you have a garden, you do well to collect your pee.
Humanure (human excrement) is also great for the garden, provided you prepare it first. To do this, you need a receptacle that keeps out all flies and animals, and bokashi bran (which neutralises pathogens in a fortnight, rendering it almost odourless and fit to add to your ageing compost). For human excrement, we have a bucket toilet with bokashi bran in the bottom, on top of which we put a piece of paper to catch the dropping, then parcel it up and add it to the curing bin, adding a good handful of bokashi bran on top. So no need to touch the excrement at any point, and the paper parcel adds carbon material (necessary for composting) to the humanure. What paper to use? As simple and natural as possible, whatever you have for recycling.
Our home is in a densely populated urban area, and it is important to us to live responsibly, spreading no smells or diseases. This system works perfectly in that context.
For the pee, we each have a bucket in our own rooms.
My room is just under 7ft x 9ft. Here's my system.
My wardrobe. See that blue thing peeping out at the bottom?
That's my toilet.
Using no toilet paper, is much cleaner. Here's something you may wish you'd never read. At the end of the day, if I always wipe my bottom with toilet paper, my underwear smells slightly of urine (yours will too). If I use a wet cloth instead, my underwear smells entirely fresh at the end of the day.
There are three options.
1) Use a new cloth every time, dropping the cloth you used into a bucket to go out with the laundry. I don't do this, because I see no point in it.
2) Use the same cloth each time. Have some water in a bowl, wet the cloth, wipe yourself, then wash the cloth off in the water, then add the water to the pee to dilute it ready to add to the garden. Wash the cloth properly with soap in the water you use to wash in at the beginning and end of the day (and that water should be in a bowl, to add to the pee, to throw on the garden; don't waste it).
3) Use a squirty bottle of water for a bidet effect. Old vinegar bottles have good tops for this. Then the wipe with a damp cloth gathers no pee, so the cloth stays entirely fresh, but you still rinse it.
System 3 is what Muslims do, and has the advantage that you can take the bottle with you when travelling or out for the day. I would do it for that, but I get on better with system 2.
Then you're all done —
— and the bucket slides back under.
At the end of the day (and at the end of the night) just take the bucket with its dilute pee and use it to put on the roots of your plants. Swill out the bucket with a little further water, again onto the roots of the plants.
You will save a lot of water (laundry of whiffy underwear, flushing toilets, washing self, watering plants) because you are washing your actual self and your underwear will do a couple of days instead of one, you aren't flushing the loo and you have watered the plants. You have also fed the plants (bonus plant food from menstruating women) and spared the Earth the chemical burden of water treatment.
The other pathway, for people who have no garden, is all the same except at the end of the morning and the end of the night you empty the bucket loo into the toilet, and use your washing water to flush.
People with no garden can't really use the bokashi system for humanure either, unless you have a wormery on your property, which would allow you to incorporate it.
All of this has no odour (I have the keenest sense of smell imaginable), no mess, nothing nasty on your hands. It just require you to re-think and gently push back at tribal taboos.
It saves water + +
It feeds the garden
It lifts the burden of chemical treatment from the Earth
It helps stop deforestation
It helps stop the social injustice of cash crops
It helps preserve wilderness and species diversity
It keeps your nether regions a lot cleaner than toilet paper does
It is considerate to your neighbours in times of drought
Suddenly every bedroom in your home has a private ensuite bathroom
To my mind, this is how we build the kingdom and serve the Creator — this is what love is. I am getting less and less interested in religion, which seems to be all words and tribal barriers, and finding more and more satisfaction in these simple, direct ways of practicing faith. Love God, love your neighbour, think outside the box.