I balked at the idea of urinating into a toilet bowl of fresh, drinkable water when I first returned from Lesotho. Not that I’d forgotten that was the norm in America. I’d done it my whole life until moving to Lesotho. But as the G.K. Chesterton quote goes, “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” For the first time I saw it not just as going to the bathroom, but as urinating into a toilet bowl of fresh, drinkable water. To this day, it seems ridiculous. I generally avoid it. I’m wondering though — How much water do I save by feeding the plants instead?

On average, a person urinates five times a day, and the toilets in my house use the standard 1.5 gallons per flush. This adds up to eight gallons a day, or about 250 gallons a month, or 2,920 gallons over the course of a year. That sounds like a lot.

But I haven’t saved that much. I can make a wild guess and say I haven’t used a toilet half of the time (I’m often at work or at someone else’s house), and I’ve been back from Lesotho for seven years now. Over those seven years that would add up to about 10,000 gallons.

Just for fun I can calculate the cost of that. At my current rate of $0.007673797 per gallon, that comes to $76 worth of water.

But I really don’t care about the cost. The cost is secondary to the insanity of using a bowl of water that has been transported thousands of miles from the Rockies or the Sierras and filtered and treated and pumped through millions of dollars worth of infrastructure to get to my house only to be pissed in and flushed into the septic tank. The stupidity of that kills me.

It especially kills me because there is this simple alternative of walking outside and feeding the plants. Or there’s the option of letting the yellow mellow, which is at least a little less stupid.

There’s talk all over the place of changing our habits because of the drought. There are signs on the roads: Severe drought. Save water. And our water district mandates that we only water three times per week between the hours of 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. The University of California, San Diego is converting some median strips of turfgrass over to lower water plants, and they are advertising it everywhere, congratulating themselves for their immense awareness. The governor made his big show of demanding 25% cuts in use. (I’d like to see how he uses water on a daily basis.) He calls this a “State of Emergency.” Water is scarce; we must conserve what little of it we do have. Meanwhile, we piss in it five times a day?


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