|Image from the Wikimedia Commons|
We’re lucky to have another guest post by Nancy Klehm (see a nice interview with her on foraging here). Nancy visits us at the Root Simple compound at least once a year. What follows is an account of a plumbing misadventure she had on her last visit.
To give you some context, ever since we’ve remodeled our bathroom and switched to a low-flow toilet we’ve had periodic backups. We think there is a low spot just within reach of our turlet snake. The toilet flushes OK most of the time, but at least once a week I’ve got to deploy that damn snake.
I don’t use a flushie often, I made the decision to ‘go dry’ years ago, adopting the bucket toilet + sawdust system as it pairs nicely with my composting obsession and food growing habit.
I stayed at Erik and Kelly’s back in February. Their low flush toilet and antique piping can’t seem to handle even the most modest bodily donation. Once a flushing attempt proves unsuccessful, and immediately following the ‘oh no…’ guilty grimace, a light-hearted blame game plays out and then according to homestead rules, Erik snakes the toilet. The closet augur is kept on the front porch (to greet visitors?). Erik augers for a few minutes, flushes successfully, marches the tool back outside to air out and we settle back into our routines relieved that our burdens are flowing into the larger mystery of pipes and their soupy contents to the municipal waste treatment plant miles away.
But with Erik and Kelly out of town on one of the weekends during my stay, the daily chores of feeding the kittens, letting out the single hen to roam the yard and snaking, if so needed, fell on me. And yes, the toilet clogged and no, I did not assume the blame. I am regular enough (2-3x/day) as are Erik and Kelly for the record [editor’s note: the editors demur from either acknowledging or disavowing the hypothetical frequency of their natural propensities.] to avoid creating such monsters and yet, the flushie needs snaking every day soon after the post-caffeine effect.
Using a closet augur looked pretty self-explanatory, but I decided to check in with YouTube University and watch ‘the pros’ do it. I was fortunate to find a true pro: Ramona’s Plumbing, a D.I.Y. plumbing site with 36 videos uploaded of Greg Chick, a licensed plumber in flipflops who walks you through fixing problems on a variety of topics including faucets, showers and yes, toilets.
I watched a 10:37 minute video of Greg dislodging a ‘soft blockage’ of intentionally placed, wadded paper towel. He was sensible and upbeat, but the bowl in the video was clean. The one I was working on was not. My tool was the poor cousin of the streamlined one Greg was using. So I opened the window wide, and with a burning candle and a wad of mugwort smoldering on the back of the tank, I swung the augur into the bowl and batted a foul. I closed the door and grabbed the phone. Fortunately, I managed to reach Erik and he coached me through my next attempt. My heart-rate jumped ugghing that augur coil into the tank. I yanked it out. There was a sloop. I flushed. Pooping in a bucket with sawdust ultimately feels more sanitary, sane and more manageable as very little can go wrong with such a simple system.
And, when I sat with cup of tea to write this, I had just snaked the toilet for the 6th time in three days. Sure I was glad to learn a new tool and this skill, as well as earn some more insight into the workings of water toilets and yet, snaking a toilet is one of the more compelling arguments for why I ‘go dry’.
Considerations for abandoning your flushie (and switching over to the bucket):
- Your body’s nutrient should be returned to the Source and by that I mean Mama Earth. This has always been the way. Now is the opportunity to revisit this connection.
- Pooping into sawdust allows you to observe your waste, an indicator of healthy body function. This is commonly understood in the medical community be it Western, Aruvedic or Chinese.
- Human waste is a source of healthy soil if properly composted. (subset of consideration #1) It is sane and safe to compost your human waste if you are a competent (read: very experienced) composter of other organic waste and have the place to do so that will not create a nuisance (aka SMELL) for your neighbors or family.
- Waste should not foul potable aka drinkable water. Waste treatment plants use chemical and loads of energy (gas and electricity). Electricity by the way, depending how it is generated also uses large amounts of fresh water.
- Greywatering your house is a much more enjoyable way to stretch into your plumbing fantasies than dealing with a clogged flush toilet.
- Your water bill will plummet. Toilet’s account for 30% of our daily water useage.
- It’s quiet. No one knows you are ‘using it’ even if you are on the phone.
In other words, Disconnect to Reconnect, folks.
Since I haven’t been able to convince the most thoughtful people I know to join the dry movement, I am investing in a closet augur and taking this show on the road.