Everyday, Americans flush away around 100 million pounds of waste, using about 32 billion gallons of water. An eco-friendly bathroom at the Bronx Zoo has created a way to preserve some of that wasted water. The Wildlife Conservation Society at the zoo has developed a way to not only save water, but to convert an ordinary public restroom into the energy saving, Eco Bathroom.
The fourteen toilets and four urinals in the restrooms help to save over one million gallons of water per year. The urinals are waterless and the toilets use only 3 ounces of water per flush. This is possible because instead of water, a layer of foam envelops the inside of the toilets when flushed. When flushed, the waste travels not into a sewage system, but into a self contained composting compartment. The compartment has fungi, bacteria, and worms to rid the waste of human pathogens, turning the final product into something similar to top soil.
After using the composting toilets, you can wash your hands at the water saving sinks. The excess water flowing down the sink drain travels through pipes into what the Bronx Zoo calls a grey water garden. The water is not harmful to plants in the garden because it contains no toxic waste and the soap used for hand-washing is biodegradable.
Additionally, the Bronx Zoo Eco Bathroom utilizes natural daylight in its design, high efficiency light bulbs, a radiant heating system within the floor, and a system that harvests rainwater.