The flushing toilet. This conniving contraption has been flushing away various bodily discretions since the 17th century. It may seem deceptively benign, quietly resting in the corner of your bathroom as the shimmer of the porcelain bowl manipulates you into thinking this filthy object is harmless. But do not be deceived by the glowing purity emanating from its facade, for it is a cold creature of darkness.
Some may say the flushing toilet is a valuable attribute to any modern house because it provides a convenient space to dispose of one’s waste with the simple pull of a handle. I cannot refute the genuine pleasure in knowing when that weird burrito you ate earlier hits, you do not have to trek out to the woods to seriously scar nearby wildlife, but rather to the comfort of your own private bathroom.
The convenience of the flushing toilet does promote some dangerous ways of coping with serious health problems. If you go out, drink too much, and fumble back to besmirch your porcelain throne, you can flush away all memories of the night along with your regurgitated chili dog. As the contents circle the drain, you may feel some serious regret over your poor decisions and even think about changing your ways. Unfortunately, most people tend to take their chances by continuing to do something that is bad for them until the consequences are serious enough that they are scared into stopping.
People also argue for the cleanliness of toilets, especially when put into comparison with how our predecessors chose to defecate. How clean is the flushing toilet? Just the surface area of the tiny handle is smothered in teeming bacteria growth. The majority of that bacteria are derived from fecal strains. Not to mention the rest of the toilet is basically a harbor for your new pets — all the bacteria thriving within the nooks and crannies of your commode! So no, the toilet is not clean. Even after dousing it in bleach, you still would not be able to kill all those persnickety bacteria.
You may look at your grandma’s little lavatory, with its crocheted seat cover that depicts two kittens playing with yarn and think nothing could be more harmless. But look at this loo again with special glasses that can show bacteria growth, and those kittens will look more like the zombies from Night of the Living Dead.
Surely the point can be made that we have progressed in our ways of defecation when compared to the trek to the woods with your How To Make It To 20 With Most Of Your Teeth Magazine like they did back in the Dark Ages. Alas, even this rebuttal can be flushed away like the spoiled milk you just found in the back of your fridge. Back in those good ol’ days (post-agrarian culture and pre-industrialization), when you had to go you took your shovel and sling-shot, and kissed your family goodbye in case a bear killed you in the woods. Nowadays, chances are pretty high that you will survive your next bathroom trip, but with every flush you are harming the environment around you.
The earth has never before had the number of inhabitants it currently does, and with that means a much higher rate of waste production. All of this waste being produced is highly concentrated, because our society tends to deal with things we do not like by sending them far away and pretending they do not exist — landfills, anyone? Within the United States alone, there are hundreds of thousands of sewage treatment plants. Although all of these plants aim to treat sewage water in order to return it to the groundwater cycle, there is still a negative impact on the environment. A heavily concentrated amount of human waste in one area is unable to be evenly reabsorbed into the earth, which negatively affects plant and animal life. Doing your business in the woods may seem primitive compared to the smart toilets of today that can give you a massage as well as play your favorite classical music, but that previous method was a lot healthier for our planet.
Globally-produced flushing toilets are a commonplace fixture in most homes with running water. They are not something that is going away soon, and they are not a direct threat to human health since most people wash their hands. But one day, when your great-great-great grandchild is taking a last glimpse of our shrinking planet as the spaceship takes off, they will be cursing the flushing toilet for making our home uninhabitable.