Many years ago, I participated in the national youth volunteer-service program called Katimavik ("meeting place" in Inuktitut). As one of a dozen youth living together in the same house, I came to see environmental efforts as not only an ideal, but a necessity for getting through the day. Even after switching to evenings for my showers, I still had to be quick about it if I wanted anyone else to have hot water after me. Likewise, we kept our utility bills low by turning the thermostat down in the winter - in northern BC, no less - and saved money on gas by taking public transit to our volunteer placements. These are behaviours I continue to practice.
As you can probably guess from the title of this post, we also committed to the selective flushing mantra, "if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down". The only time this caused a problem was when we embarked on a weekend road trip, and the last person to use the bathroom before we left didn't have the presence of mind to make an exception to the rule. Please note: after two days, pee in the toilet smells bad!
I'm curious to know whether any of you save water in this way in your homes, and if you don't, what the barriers are. However I'm also writing this post because I recently came across a great public service announcement video published by a Brazilian environmental organization. Check it out:
Pee During Shower (english subtitles) from Fernandosanches.net on Vimeo.
It was Jen at the Clean Bin Project blog who posted the video at the beginning of the month, and I'm happy to report that she received a lot of positive comments. More than half of the readers admitted to having done this a few times, if not regularly, while those opposed to the idea cited cleanliness and squeamishness issues as impediments, as well as the idea that "there's something unacceptable about it". So here are my arguments: as far as I understand it, if you're healthy, your urine is sterile. In other words, we can't catch anything from each other by coming into contact with each others' pee unless our immune systems are compromised, in which case we're probably more likely to catch a cold or the flu. To minimize any lingering smell, peeing at the beginning of your shower closest to the drain should do the trick. Remember, the end result of this activity is that once a day, you're not flushing the toilet: instead, you're peeing in the shower while already using the water to clean yourself - it's a direct grey water system. As for whether this act is inherently right or wrong, that depends on your upbringing and the beliefs you choose to value. In my opinion, it's much more of a travesty that we put drinking water into our toilets only to soil it with human waste and regularly use up to 13 litres of water to rinse away a couple hundred ml of mostly sterile urine. To me, that's what's unacceptable about the present situation.
Your turn: do you let it mellow when it's yellow? Do you pee in the shower? If you don't do either, what are your reasons?