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Thursday, 8 November 2018

7 billion daily bowel movements - a significant threat to global health, peace and natural environment?

Many of us take for granted the use of a flushing toilet. As the World Toilet Organisation has expressed concern and attempting to mobilise higher standards in human sanitation and treating and making use of the waste more effectively.

Natural (or biological) technologies such as Reed Bed Technologies to clean water effluent is one format that modern cultures have looked at in recent decades. Compost Toilets can do significant good for many urban and rural environments which continually produces a compost/soil substitute source for private gardens, public green spaces, community gardens, allotments, small holdings all the way up to large scale agriculture. It may sound like an impossible logistics exercise - yet 7bn daily bowel movements if handled properly could provide a lot of necessary nutrients for our agricultural systems as well as our urban/rural green spaces.
The massive infrastructure our water services give us (waste water extraction, clean water delivery, rain water re-direction, flood abatement etc) and yet we still have a long way to go of having a zero emission system and zero waste produced so faeces that does not end up in parks or the beaches.
From low tech practise like Compost toilets to higher end technologies of Japanese toilets that wash your bottom for you - many of the solutions in themselves do use high energy embodied practises of manufacture, use and disposal.
Significant changes in attitudes and practises should be considered in both developed and developing countries. It is one thing that 'poor countries' aspire to practises of richer countries when the more affluent could be using more sustainable, locally sourced and dealt with faeces delivery/distribution processes which will be more low embodied in energy and resource use.

This very insightful video: 'The toilet: an unspoken history' BBC 2012 (which I would have renamed: "7 billion daily turds: can the planet deal with it?") The first half of this video deals with design & social evolution - the latter half is more hard hitting highlighting significant waste problems the world needs to deal with - and solutions are presented.

Now really is the time to give a s#@t about sitting on the thrown/spending a penny!
What can you do?