An informal Internet survey I just conducted pegs the average time we spend on the toilet in a lifetime is somewhere in the range of one to one-and-a-half years. For those in the town of Bellingham in Washington state, that time is about to increase: a new city project is using old toilets as part of Bellingham's sidewalks.
It's not a joke, it's the epitome of eco-friendly thinking. Freeman Anthony, a city worker in charge of extending a pedestrian walkway, remembered a story about a local charity that had just replaced 400 toilets. Thinking it was a shame those old toilets would go to waste, Anthony asked his concrete supplier whether they could use the old toilets as a filler for their project.
The toilets were crushed and added to a concrete mix and a new blend was born. They called it "porticrete."
The toilets accounted for about 20 percent of the final mix and gave Anthony enough porticrete to pave 250 square yards of the walkway. An even nicer number? The fact that it saved 5 tons of porcelain from the city landfill.
The city, which prides itself on its commitment to sustainability, has promised the new material will be used in other city projects. It's a win-win when you consider not only is it eco-friendly for the city and its landfills, but that it also cuts city building costs by filling out and extending traditional building materials.
The new walkway has put Bellingham on the map for it's environmental leadership. It won the first "World's First Greenroad" award from the University of Washington's sustainable roadway design and construction rating system, the Greenroads Foundation. Greenroads must meet 11 requirements and can pursue 37 voluntary credits toward one of four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Evergreen. The Bellingham project got Silver certification.
Let's hear it for Bellingham's toilet trail!