Change the Cistern

by Sarah Poppy Jackson in Bristol, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 17th December 2019 we successfully raised £3,612 with 136 supporters in 28 days

To start a conversation about why we use clean drinking water in our toilets through publishing my book! Hit target, but keep donating!

by Sarah Poppy Jackson in Bristol, England, United Kingdom

We've made the target! But more donations means more books, so please keep donating to support this initiative (see more below).

The Problem

Did you know that the water you drink today is the same water that has always been on earth since its arrival on the planet about 4 billion years ago? 

This water continuously circulates in the hydrological cycle, but only a small amount of that (0.0008%) is available for use by humans. On average a UK citizen uses approximately 150 litres of clean drinking water per day, yet only 4% (6 litres) of that is actually used to drink and an astonishing 30% (almost 50 litres) is simply flushed down the toilet! 

The sewage system in the UK wasn’t designed to function at the scale of its current use. In the near future the world’s water treatment systems (and the earth itself) will be unable to continue to maintain 'business as usual'. The world’s population is rising, the climate is warming and resources are becoming scarce. And we’re flushing away one of our most cherished resources -polluted and wasted - without much thought or awareness of it. We are all connected by water and need to protect it.

Why am I so passionate about this subject?

I grew up surrounded by the sea in the very southwest of Britain in Penzance, Cornwall, with water always present in my childhood.

As an adult, I spent three years living in South America, working on farms, boats, and in cities, where clean drinking water wasn't always available and therefore was extremely precious. I recycled grey water for flushing toilets. I used many compost loos. I vividly remember my first trip to a flushing toilet, whilst still in the airport when I returned to the UK. I had a feeling of sadness, disgust, and injustice as I watched litres of clean drinking water flush away without my control (from a sensor that triggered the flush as I stood up).

Here's one of my favourite views from a compost toilet in Ecuador:

The Book

I studied a Masters in New Economics at Schumacher College and my dissertation looked into the value of water, our relationship to it and it’s use in the sewage system. I’ve collaborated with American publisher Breakdown Break Down Press and Kyoto based artist Kione Kochi, to convert this academic research into a fun, informative and beautifully hand-illustrated book. 

We are using a Riso printer, which makes print outs that layer the colours up and can look like screen prints, but are much easier to make and generate a lot less waste. The environmentally-friendly inks are vegetable based and we are using recycled paper and card (of course!) Additionally, there is no water waste on the user end of the process, where as there are huge amounts of water waste and chemical use in screen printing. 

Readers won’t be asked to change anything, but will simply be presented with alternative perspectives to consider. This is a trending issue; conversations about water (and it’s cost) are on the rise. These changes to water will affect us all.

My request

Please help me get these ideas out into the public awareness so we can start talking about it. Donate what you can to help cover the publishing costs (see below). £10 or more and you'll receive a copy of the book: 'Reclaim Your Sh*t!' (If you don't live in the UK please consider your postage costs in your donation.) 

Share this with your networks. Buy a book for a friend - it might even get some folks to think twice about giving a sh*t!

The book will be accompanied by a 38Degrees petition to stop the use of drinking water in toilet cisterns in the UK. My dream is to change building regulations - and that wasting clean drinking water is a frivolous luxury of the past. 

Thank you. 


We've hit the I can call the printers! We will keep donations open until the end date.

More donations = more books can be produced, which in turn means that more can be sent to book shops, libraries and schools, and more people will join the conversation about the absurdity of using drinking water in our toilets. 

More donations = the human labour required to send all the books out can be paid for instead of voluntary.

More donations = launch events can be organised (I've been imagining an evening with a guided meditation I've created called 'Be Water' using sound to immerse participants into their water bodies and a photographic exhibition to accompany the illustrations in poster form), so yes, more donations means more ideas to get the campaign out there. 

So please keep talking, sharing, liking, posting, tweeting, emailing, graming...whatever method of communication you choose to use...and let's #changethecistern

I thank you. Water thanks you.

The funds will cover the following:

- Riso printing and binding in the US with Breakdown Break Down Press:

- Riso printing and binding in the UK with a small ecologically minded, Leeds based Co-operative:

- the materials: vegetable-based ink, recycled paper (there are only two mills left in Europe producing recycled paper!) and recycled card

- pay Kione for her work

- distribution and postage costs to get the books to you (roughly estimated - so if you live outside of the UK or the US, please consider this when donating)

- more books!

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