The Issue with Toilets

One of the biggest household objects we take for granted in America is toilets.

On Average, about 10% of all water use in the USA is for domestic uses. Of these uses, 40% of water is used to flush toilets.  Currently, the average american household has at least one  inefficient toilet that uses 7 gallon per flush.  Compare this with the amount of times you flush the toilet in a year, and you are wasting water in the thousands of liters. This may not seem important, but water reserves in America are quickly becoming more of a problem- seen already in the droughts of California. A solution to this is using more efficient toilets that waste less water or has the options of BIG flush LITTLE flush. 

Unfortunately, many countries - especially those with severe water needs- do not have the option for efficient toilets... they do not even have toilets. Many developing countries practice open defecation. Others  use a pit/ outhouse system where people go to the bathroom in a hole in the ground. The problem with this is that the pits fill up and people end up dedicating and urinating  around the pit. In countries with a strict caste system, lower caste residents are given the job of cleaning out pits but are offered no protective clothes or gear. Not using toilets leads to serious health issues caused by fecal matter contaminating food and water sources.  Almost 2 million people die a year from fecal related diseases - 90% being children under 5.

The only way to stop this issue is to introduce efficient toilets or safer ways to empty the pits in these countries. The issue with toilets is not new, and success stories of implementing better sanitation have happened.  Singapore is a notable success story that transformed from a developing country with waste in the streets and water, to a self-sustaining economy with " streets and toilets clean enough to eat off of". This was done by enforcing legislation dealing with water use and water ways, incorporating new jobs, and regulating public action more strictly.  Fixing the issue with toilets is possible, but it takes both public and government participation. 

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Anastasia Grigoryeva, Delaware Valley High School


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