The tacit notion that whatever we throw away or stop paying attention to simply disappears from existence is called the "toilet assumption."
The derivation of the term should be obvious. And it's exactly the kind of thinking that the sustainable movement constantly fights against, working to keep people paying attention and considering consequences that may not be instantly apparent.
William Toffey is definitely working to raise awareness. But unlike most of us, he wants us to pay attention to what is actually and literally flushed down the toilet. Not just human waste but water, both of which make their way to treatment plants and then, in some form or another, out into the wider world.
Toffey took a moment to talk with me about this (MP3, 3 MB) at last week's Green Drinks Delaware Valley, at the Standard Tap. As he notes, some municipalities are already capitalizing on the potential and capturing the heat and energy that is otherwise being thrown out with the, er, bathwater. Have a listen and for more info on this topic and his Effluent Synergies LLC, check out Toffey's blog, Effluential Visions.