Environmental Thoughts Part IV


I read in Living The Good life that it takes 1350 litres of water to produce 1Kg of flour, how can this be I wonder…well let me introduce to you Virtual Water…
Imagine walking around a supermarket where every apple, every litre of milk every item on the shelves has a label showing how much water it took to produce. At the checkout there are two totals on the docket, the cost of the groceries and the amount of water it used to produce them.
When we pop a lettuce into the trolley, we might not be carting around 23L of water it took to grow it but we do carry the shared responsability for its use.

The total amount of water used in Australia for domestic purposes is around 12, 000 gigalitres – enough to fill the Sydney harbour 18 times.
Figures vary, but it takes around 16,000L of water for a kilo of beef.

We also wear vast amounts of water in our clothing: 1Kg of cotton takes between 7000 and 29,000L of water to produce. A cotton t-shirt requires 760L.

While it might not seem there is a great deal you can do about your share of virtual water use from agriculture and manufacturing, there is. In Australia we throw away 3.3 million tonnes of food a year. This accumulation of everyone’s uneaten dinners and the ‘left too long in the back of the fridge’ mouldy things. Planet Ark estimates that they represent 2000 gigalitres of water use!

Buy fresh food more often and in smaller amounts.
Plan meals ahead.
Get some chooks. (They eat most of our scraps, and our worms eat the rest)
Grow your own veggies.
Buy organic produce. (Just today I visited a local organic shop down in Gwellup, it’s great!)
Plant trees

The list is massive – See page 16 & 17 of Living The Good Life

On the water theme again…

Every minute in Australia 60, 000L of drinkable water in mixed with our crap, urine and wads of toilet paper, and is forced by a modest wall of water through an s-bend. At that rate, we’re polluting the equivallent of an olympic swimming pool of water and flushing it down the toilet every 16 minutes.
Across Australia that’s 304 gigalitres a year requiring treatment, or 8.8 billion L daily.
Per family, that works out at about 200L of drinking water a day being flushed down the loo!

The irony is…we then spend a pack ($2.9 million a year) on extracting the water from the sewage and working out where to best put it!
Why would the driest nation on the planet mix its drinking water with its crap then spend almost 3million dollars trying to extract it again?

But wait there’s more!
By adding water to our sewage we actually SLOW the rate of decomposition down!
The average person’d faeces have a decomposed weight of around 25Kg per year. NOT MUCH!
Dam walls are built higher and animal habitats and waterways destroyed so we can use 16 kilolitres of water (each) to flush what would eventually amount to 25kilos of humus for our gardens. (buried)

The alternatives are numerous and not all as primitive as you might imagine!
There are numerous companies making alternatives to Australian standards.
Have a look at Bio Loo, Dowmus, Clivus Multrum, Rota Loo and Nature Loo.
Some people have had their challenges with these systems, especially when they don’t follow the matnufacturers advice. But, look into them, I know I am going to…not actually “LOOK INTO THEM” that might not be so nice!
As the book says, “it’s time we get our shit together!” – hey, it’s a quote!

The above comes from pages 14 -17, then 54 – 56 of Living The Good Life

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3 thoughts on “Environmental Thoughts Part IV

  1. Looking forward to using the bio loo when you get one??? Also, any chance of seeing more photos of the fam (not that I associate them with toilets or anything) but that is why I look on your blog now & again…

  2. “Tree Free” toilet paper on the topic of Loos. Yes, might not be quite as soft as some well known products but as we’ve said to our sensitive skinned daughter- if we lived in India or Africa she wouldn’t have the luxury of soft toilet paper! Go the recycled paper.

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