Why I Give a Crap About Poop
A very long time ago (the early 90s) I worked as a receptionist at a fitness club. It was one of my better jobs coming out of university despite the fact it had nothing to do with my Political Science / Sociology degree. The people were nice, the facility clean, and it was one of the rare occasions when I got along with the boss.
Reception areas are really the centre of a space like that, and often people would have conversations around me, so it was interesting to listen in. One day, as I folded the umpteenth towel, my boss and his head instructor were discussing how many unnatural chemicals and preservatives were in food these days. My boss commented on how he felt so much better on his natural and plant-based diet. He felt he would live forever and die a very old man.
At that point, he looked up at me and asked what I thought. In a cynical and not yet woke voice, I said that the only benefit I could see was that he would simply decompose faster than the rest of us.
One of the advantages of living in a city is you never have to think about what you flush down the toilet. You trust because no one has really insisted otherwise, that everything will be taken care of. You trust that all the chemicals and waste will be processed and disposed of appropriately.
So you never have to think about what is in the food you eat or the cleaning products you wash down the drain. It all just magically goes away.
This is not the case in the country. When you are far away from a town sewer line, you have to start thinking about what you put down the drain because, ultimately, you are responsible for it.
When you buy a house in a rural area, the first questions you have to ask are how old is the septic system and how big is the water cistern (or well) because these are essential to comfortable living and they cost a lot to replace or upgrade.
We had neither system on our abandoned lot so we had to educate ourselves quickly. Because I wanted to be as eco friendly as possible, we went with the Waterloo Biofilter system. Luckily, we had space so we invested in a system that could accommodate any addition we might add to the house.
But we were told after it was installed to make sure that we only used natural products and never use anti-bacterial soaps. That's because our system needs bacteria. It uses a system of containers with foam pellets to break down the solid waste. The liquid that results is piped into our weeping tile at the back of the property. The final product is clean enough to become one with the earth again.
It is a perfect zero-waste system.
Choosing this system really made me look at what we consume as food and what is in our soaps, shampoos and cleaning products. The early 2000s was not a great time to find eco-friendly products but I did ok. I learned a lot from bloggers like David Suzuki's Queen of Green along the way. It is way easier now though you have to be careful of greenwashing and learn the top chemicals to avoid.
As for food, well, there are a thousand reasons to switch to natural and organic food, the septic system is just one of them.
The food industry has had the same lobbying power as the oil industry and over the years they have told us all sorts of myths like low fat is better (while they plied all their food with sugar) and that eggs are bad for your heart.
There are so many lies and theories but the bottom line is that everyone has different health needs and that the best diet is the one closest to what our grandparents ate; local food, eaten in moderation, lots of plants, minimal meat, low sugar and salt. The best food has simple and pure ingredients and no chemical preservatives.
It's amazing and scary when you start to really look at what goes into our food. There are whole aisles in the grocery store I don't even walk down any more.
So in the end, you could say that our septic system led us down the path to healthier living.
Your poop is a reflection of your health and what's in it does impact the earth. Just something to keep that in mind the next time you reach for the Doritos.