Utne Blogs > Environment

Saner Sanitation

 by Bennett Gordon

Tags: environment, technology, waste water, low-flush, no-flush, toilets, waste, Boston Globe,

The idea of flushing human waste down the toilet, mixing it with water from the laundry, the shower, and the sink, and then trying to treat the whole effluent sludge using expensive, energy-intensive industrial plants is “totally insane” according to Arno Rosemarin, research and communications manager at the Stockholm Environment Institute, quoted in the Boston Globe. There are plenty of other options that people and governments can pursue for more sane and sustainable sanitation.

A global movement is afoot to harness the “neglected treasure” of human waste, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow writes for the Boston Globe. Low-flush toilets, waterless urinals, and composting toilets are just the starting points. Tuhus-Dubrow also writes about “vacuum toilets”—like the ones found on airplanes—bathrooms designed to give nutrients to plants, and toilets designed to separate urine, feces, and greywater. A number of barriers, including psychological ones, are preventing this kind of technology from being implemented, but any one would be preferable to the “flush and forget” system currently in place.