City Makes Sidewalk From Hundreds of Old Toilets

toilet on sidewalk photo.
CC BY 2.0. ElvertBarnes

ElvertBarnes/CC BY 2.0

Toilets are easily the most long-suffering fixtures of modern life, tucked away behind closed doors to endure decades of unspeakable uses -- yet despite their years of doodyful service, most old porcelain thrones are still destined to an equally unpleasant afterlife in a landfill. Faced with this wasteful injustice, the city of Bellingham, Washington recently found a way to put 400 past-their-prime toilets to some good green use as a sidewalk.

Officials in Bellingham say that they strive towards making their city more sustainable, and they've put their money where their mouth is -- by getting folks to put their shoes where their dairy-airs were. When a stretch of pedestrian walkway needed to be extended, the man in charge of the job, Freeman Anthony, had the thought that things could be done in a bit more of an eco-friendly sort of way.

Anthony heard a local charity had just replaced some toilets, so he called his concrete supplier to see if they could be mixed with other materials and used as filler for the city's new sidewalk, reports Washington's KCPQ-TV.

"They said, 'Yeah, I think we can do something with that. We'll throw it through the crusher and see what we come up with'."

crushed toilets photo.

© City of Bellingham

As it turned out, the blend worked perfectly, and soon 400 unwanted toilets were stirred together with recycled concrete to give Anthony the 250 square yards of 'porticrete' he needed to get the job done. According to the City of Bellingham, the final mix contains about 20% crushed toilets by volume and represents about 5 tons of material diverted from a landfill.

Porticrete photo.

© City of Bellingham

Not surprisingly, the city's sustainability-minded inovation has begun to earn it some much deserved attention. Just last month, the project was named the "World's First Greenroad" by the University of Washington's sustainable roadway design and construction rating system, the Greenroads Foundation.

Given the success and lavish praise they received for their use of recycled toilets, city officials say that the potty-party won't stop; there are dozens of other projects underway which apply the same eco-conscious paving material.

In other words, when Nature calls in Bellingham, it's likely just to say 'thanks'.