“In Ancient Rome, no human waste went to waste,” explains the BBC Ideas narrator in the video above.
“Untreated excrement was used as manure in kitchen gardens while urine was used to produce fabric.” And yet, today, “the average adult flushes away 730 litres of urine and around 91kg of faeces every year.”
Why aren’t we using our never-ending supply of poop and pee as fertilizer and fuel? And how can toilets be redesigned to meet the needs of global populations facing drought and depleated soils? BBC Ideas teams up with The Open University to celebrate The Extraordinary Power of Poo. One example:
The sludge left behind after sewage is processed is good raw material for generating methane. Modern treatment plants add bacteria to the sludge, generating bio-gas, which can be piped to homes or used to power vehicles. It’s a much cleaner fuel than petrol or diesel…
Urine is also a resource that we’re not fully utilizing. Between the water we use to flush it and the half a kilogram of phosphorous that each of us urinates per year, we’re wasting resources. Via aces.edu:
“Phosphorus (P) is essential to all forms of life on this planet. It is an essential nutrient necessary for growth and development of plants and animals on which our food supply depends.”
How can modern toilets and sewer systems be redesigned to maximize our resources?
Related reading at Treehugger: There Is a New Standard Defining What a Toilet Should Do.
Poop! Watch this next: The history of the toilet from ancient Mesopotamia to modern day. Plus:
• Kids Meet A Poop Doctor
• Transforming Human Poop Into Eco-Friendly Fertilizer
• Turn human waste into drinking water – Janicki Omniprocessor
• Powered by Poop at the Straus Family Creamery
• Poop Guy: A dad who is revolutionizing sanitation in Pune, India