November 19th marks World Toilet Day 2020. Not a day to dress your loo up in toilet paper and share a picture of it with the hashtag #HowDoYouLoo, but a day to recognise the importance on sanitary water, worldwide.
Many of us like to help our environment in any way we can, which is why it’s important to get involved. UN Water is dedicated to making dramatic improvements to sanitary conditions throughout the globe. At a time where cleanliness is more important than ever, recognising their work is essential.
Last year, we would have been taking our toilet’s for granted. After all, it’s not exactly a space we like to spend our downtime in. However, 2020 has somewhat changed the importance of the little things in life, especially sanitary conditions.
It may shock you to know that 4.2 million people are living without suitable sanitation during this pandemic. World Toilet Day 2020 is not only a day for us to check our leaky loos and raise awareness on the three P’s. It’s a day to be grateful for what we have and look at how our efforts can make a difference around the world. For other communities and the environment.
What does poor sanitation mean for the environment?
When we mention poor sanitation, we immediately think about people contracting diseases and all sorts of health issues. But how many of us are considering the impacts of this on the environment?
As we know, climate change impacts all areas of the planet. From the depths of the seas to the highest mountain tops and everything in between. In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in natural disasters, including flooding. In areas where safe sanitation is not available, human waste is carried during floods and spread throughout the surrounding areas. This impact crops for farming as well as wildlife trying to survive in the surrounding areas.
Implementing miles and miles of safe waterways isn’t always an option either. Digging up the ground and installing giant pipes may have been a solution 100 years ago, but for the eco-friendly world of 2020, it’s not enough. UN Water is helping to establish solutions, but more importantly, sustainable ones.
How does World Toilet Day 2020 help the environment?
World Toilet Day helps raise awareness. Awareness alone can have a substantial positive impact on helping the environment. You’ve only got to look at the legislation in place to ban plastic straws to see what can happen when we all work towards a common goal. While awareness is the beginning, it is the funding and actions taken that help makes safe sanitation possible.
Just because a system is in place, it does not mean it is good for the environment. Often collecting, transporting, and treating human waste releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which is why a newer approach is needed. Sustainable sanitation is essential. Many countries don’t have the option of multiple waterways running underground or the finances to implement such a system.
In some parts of the world, 80% of wastewater travels back into the ecosystem, so new ideas and systems are needed. Thankfully, efforts are in place to create green sustainable and green solutions.
‘The Brown Revolution’ (such a pleasant name we know), is a way to help cities cope with growing populations. The more people, the more waste and the more opportunity there is to impact the environment negatively. This revolution not only treats waste, but it also provides a solution to a growing problem. It has taken place over the last 10 years in Ghana. Research has finally allowed IWMI/WLE to treat faecal sludge and produce high-quality fertiliser pellets from it. Plant food from human waste – it’s incredible ideas like this that will set the tone for the future of waste.
What can we do at home to support?
In the UK, we have a great set up. Our water companies, like Thames Water, are using sludge to transform it into renewable energy. But they’re also working hard around the clock to reduce water waste and reduce our consumption. Sustainability is a priority for UK water companies, but they can’t do everything for us, which is why we must help from our homes, starting by looking after loos.
A leaky loo can cost you up to £200 a year in bills, but that wasted water also impacts the environment. All the water that flows from taps, toilets and showers across the globe is drawn from sources which make up less than 1% of the planets total available resource, and it’s getting more and more difficult to access it. Saving water where you can, helps to distribute it fairly throughout the globe so that all communities can get the water they need to live in sanitary conditions.