Thinking about what happens to your sewage as you flush it away may not be the most invigorating thought after the daily deposit; but if you knew that thirty percent of the water entering your home leaves via the toilet, you may think twice about it. Three times when you consider you are throwing away a rich source of carbon and phosphorous, that could rival the best farmyard manure.
The current system of mixing human waste with water is clearly not the most ecological or economic. The modern “flush and forget” mentality stems from an out dated 19th century invention to prevent the spread of diseases like cholera via our waterways, so sewers were built to run waste away from communities to the sea. Even in this age, sewage is treated then sent to sea, adding to the oceans phosphorus levels to the point of killing sea life.
The problem of human waste has been around for a long time, and the promising new ‘Loowatt’ system could be the answer to our prayers. This waterless toilet stores your excrement in a biodegradable film made from starch, within a cartridge you empty one to two times per week. So already we are moving away from the flush and forget state of mind, which I am sure many will take issue with, but if we can have food waste in our homes till we choose to remove it why not with our own waste? Even better the packaging system of Loowatt makes the smells of the waste unable to escape.
So you empty your cartridge every week into an anaerobic digester. The digester contains millions of microorganisms that live in an oxygen free environment. They break down the waste to gaseous products of methane (65%), carbon dioxide (33%) and other trace elements. Methane makes up a large part of the natural gas supplied to homes, and can also be used to generate electricity. The final by product of the anaerobic reaction is semi liquid manure which, though not sounding all too great, can easily be separated into plant food and rich fertiliser. So these products from human waste can be useful resources. Trade your waste for useful biogas and fertiliser.
Inventor Virginia Gardiner’s vision was to take the Loowatt system to developing countries around the world to create a more sanitary way of dealing with waste. The Loowatt financially beneficial to the community in providing fertiliser to be put back onto farmland and natural gas which once sold could contribute to economic stability within the community. Her and the Loowatt team have high hopes to transform the lives of people in developing countries, and being a part of a worldwide movement towards greener and more sustainable living.