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Peepoo Blue?
March 9, 2010 9:05 PM   Subscribe

Cats have toilets. Dogs have toilets. Even rats have toilets... but according to the World Toilet Organization, 2.5 billion *people* worldwide still do not have access to sanitation. Peepoo (YouTube video), developed by Swedish entrepreneur, architect and professor Anders Wilhemson, is a new biodegradable single-use toilet that could help grow crops (New York Times). A layer of urea crystals in the bag kills off disease producing pathogens and breaks the waste down... into fertilizer. If you prefer patent-free alternatives, Joseph Jenkins offers Humanure. You can get his Humanure Compost Toilet System Instruction Manual (Direct Download PDF) free of charge. All you need is a bucket, cover materials (sawdust, rice husks or coffee grounds) and the knowledge in his handbook. Peepoo or Humanure? Poo decide.
posted by stringbean (18 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

posted by shoesfullofdust at 9:14 PM on March 9, 2010

You can get his Humanure Compost Toilet System Instruction Manual (Direct Download PDF) free of charge.

Downtown it would cost you $20.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:44 PM on March 9, 2010

Toilets of the World
posted by XMLicious at 12:07 AM on March 10, 2010

Poo be the judge!
posted by Joe Chip at 2:38 AM on March 10, 2010

i really have wondered why someone hasn't thought of this type of thing for cat litter, too. seems like some smart chemical engineer could make a fortune.
posted by lapolla at 2:58 AM on March 10, 2010

This is a well-timed post, what with there being a half-finished humanure toilet on my workbench right now (hoping to finish it by the weekend). I'm still a bit skeptical that it will, in fact, be scent free, when many of its most ardent proponents also argue that frequent bathing and soap use are the products of cynical manipulation by an insidious corporatocracy, but it's worth a try, given that my work to dig a new pit for my outhouse has gone along the lines of "shovel, shovel, ROCK, dammit, shovel, ROCK, shovel, shovel, ROCK, ROCK, dammit, REALLY BIG ROCK," and so on.

Of course, I think that's also why the Swedes have historically been in the forefront of composting and other waterless toilet technologies—it's a country with a lot of vacation cabins sited in beautiful landscapes that are, alas, mostly rock.
posted by sonascope at 3:35 AM on March 10, 2010

Relatedly, I have long been awaiting the widespread use of that pee-solidifying enzyme from Idoru as an earthquake-resistant, cheap, and green building material. HURRY UP SCIENCE.
posted by elizardbits at 3:44 AM on March 10, 2010

Milwaukee has long been ahead of the curve on this one.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 3:55 AM on March 10, 2010

Awesome good stuff to know when the big one hits Tokyo!
posted by gomichild at 3:59 AM on March 10, 2010

The next time you walk into your home bathroom, a typical office restroom, or even a gas station toilet, consider how much we take for granted in the West. A link at the World Toilet Organization site goes to Girish Menon's short documentary film ..don’t leave me now:
The Slum Sanitation Program or SSP is the initiative of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The program aims at building sustainable toilet blocks in the slums of Mumbai and training slum dwellers to operate and maintain them. Phase I of the SSP was initiated with financial aid from the World Bank.

SSP toilets are built on the demands of slum dwellers. The toilets are clean and well maintained and this responsibility lies with Community Based Organisations or CBO. The CBO consists of enterprising slum dwellers who live at close proximity to a toilet block. Every CBO hires a resident caretaker who lives at the uppermost level of the toilet block along with his or her family.
The film graphically depicts the terrible sanitary conditions that the SSP is striving to improve in Mumbai: with some 78,000 public toilet seats (holes, actually) available, 80% of them are poorly maintained.

Sh_ttiest FPP we've seen in a long time. Thanks, stringbean.
posted by cenoxo at 4:49 AM on March 10, 2010

Of course, I think that's also why the Swedes have historically been in the forefront of composting and other waterless toilet technologies—it's a country with a lot of vacation cabins sited in beautiful landscapes that are, alas, mostly rock.

Those cabins are often in rather cold places with no or limited running water, too, making options like septic fields much less workable. A well-designed composting toilet will work year-round, without the unhappy crisis of a frozen sewer line.

But that's also a significant part of why composting toilets have never become mainstream technology in the developing world -- the problem they solve in Sweden (isolation, cold, etc) are not the same problems you face in dense peri-urban settlements in tropical countries. There has been a long learning curve in implementing composting toilets in the rest of the world, and given how often those projects fail I think it is safe to say that the learning curve is continuing.

A good example of those toilets being implemented successfully could be seen in Haiti with the group SOIL (still working there post-earthquake). Still, it's typical of composting toilet projects -- small, isolated, and with limited potential for scaling up. That's always been the advantage of water-born sewerage -- it can scale up seamlessly to cover an entire city, if the technical capacity and funding is available. Modern non-water options have never been able to demonstrate that scalability or system-wide integration, despite four or so decades of attempts.
posted by Forktine at 5:12 AM on March 10, 2010


Birds do it...
Bees do it...
Even educated fleas do it...
posted by eriko at 6:08 AM on March 10, 2010

Let's do it.
Let's crap in a bag?
posted by pracowity at 7:22 AM on March 10, 2010

While driving between Delhi and Agra in northern India, I saw lots of people, young and old, depositing their human fertilizer directly in the fields.

But, I guess these kinds of biodegradable toilets are more geared toward urban environments with poor sanitation, not rural areas.
posted by little_c at 9:40 AM on March 10, 2010

little_c, open defecation is horrendously dangerous, even in rural areas. Rose George's book The Big Necessity goes into a phenomenal amount of detail about this.

I've been reading it on the crapper for a couple months now. Well. Off and on.
posted by gurple at 10:06 AM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

would the peepoo also be useful for camping? I'm curious if its better (environment wise) to bury the bag instead of just digging a cathole
posted by cubby at 1:38 PM on March 10, 2010

I'm curious if its better (environment wise) to bury the bag instead of just digging a cathole

The NY Times links says:
Once used, the bag can be knotted and buried, and a layer of urea crystals breaks down the waste into fertilizer, killing off disease-producing pathogens found in feces.
Manufacturing and shipping any bags, Peepoo or otherwise, is obviously worse for the environment than using nothing.

But the idea is to control disease commonly spread by human waste. Crap in a bag, bury it, and let the crap remain in isolation while it and the bag and your pathogens all break down into harmless fertilizer rather than put your crap (and diseases) directly into the local soil and water.

And in the long run, simple disease control like that probably is better for the environment, and a lot cheaper, than having to care for sick people by, for example, manufacturing and shipping drugs, providing hospital space, and using up valuable doctor time.
posted by pracowity at 11:29 PM on March 10, 2010


Farm Subsidies Backfire in India
India's Green Revolution increased food production, allowing this giant country to feed itself. But government efforts to continue the miracle by encouraging fertilizer use have backfired.
India has been providing farmers with heavily subsidized fertilizer for more than three decades. The overuse of one type—urea—is so degrading the soil that yields on some crops are falling and import levels are rising. So are food prices, which jumped 19% last year. The country now produces less rice per hectare than its far poorer neighbors: Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
btw Birds do it. Bees do it. Beetles, bats and light summer breezes do it. :P

oh and the 'rats have toilets' link is awesome! (and amazing ;)

posted by kliuless at 6:32 AM on March 11, 2010

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