A short biography of human waste and its value | Aeon Essays - Deepstash
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Holy Crap!

Holy Crap!

Human and animal excrement is a natural, renewable, and sustainable resource - if only we can overcome our visceral disgust of it!

An average adult produces about a pound (or half a kilo) of poo a day. That means that New York City, with its official census population of more than 8 million, pumps out more than 8 million lbs (or 4 million kg/4,000 tonnes) of excrement a day. Tokyo surpasses that slightly with 8.3 million lbs daily. China’s capital Beijing, a huge urban conglomerate of 21.3 million dwellers, beats NYC and Tokyo combined.

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Those Sewage Systems Aren't Environmentally Friendly

Those Sewage Systems Aren't Environmentally Friendly

  • In the developed world, we built flushing toilets, underground pipes and gigantic sewage treatment plants to protect ourselves from our massive sh*t piles
  • Yet, these marvels of modern engineering have done significant damage to Earth's ecology.
  • Soils grow barren, so we use synthetic fertiliser, which isn't anywhere near as good as the real shit and also is very polluting to produce.
  • Restoring that broken link is essential to our food security and healthy ecology.

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10 reads

What The World Does With Poo

What The World Does With Poo

  • For the most part, we try to distance ourselves from it as much as possible. The exact mechanisms of that process depend on where you live.
  • In the Western world, we flush it down the toilet.
  • In the less fortunate places, it’s left to decompose in pit latrines or underneath trees.
  • But no matter the country or the culture, the common thread is that we try to move our ordure as far away from us as we can.
  • We’re universally disgusted by it. It’s excrement. It’s yucky by definition. It’s appalling by sight and smell.

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8 reads

Dumping Poo In Water Isn't A Great Idea

Dumping Poo In Water Isn't A Great Idea

Dumping waste in a local body of water has proved dangerous. The infamous pandemics of cholera that swept through Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries were started by faecal contamination of drinking water. Even today, diarrhoeal diseases sicken and kill about 827,000 people a year in the developing world, according to the World Health Organization.

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We Don't Let Poo Go Back To Where It Can Do Good

We Don't Let Poo Go Back To Where It Can Do Good

 If you think about where our food comes from, particularly in colder climates, you’ll realise it’s grown someplace else. As our bananas, apples, lettuce, corn and rice grow, they extract nutrients from the land.

That food is then trucked, shipped and flown to where we live – and where we eat it and excrete it. Yet, we don’t return that organic matter back to where we got it from, as my grandfather did. We don’t drive, sail or fly to return this organic bounty to the land. We flush it down the drain.

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The Drainage System Can Collapse The Earth

The Drainage System Can Collapse The Earth

Our local sewage treatment plants clean that water from pathogens, but not from the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium this wastewater is rich in.

These potent fertilisers usually flow into a body of water nearby, constantly overfeeding the lakes, rivers and the ocean.

That results in toxic algae blooms, dead fish and decaying waterways, which are not biologically designed to absorb so many fertilising chemicals. Likewise, our Earth is not biologically designed to keep growing food without us feeding it.

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The Soil Needs Poo But We Are Depriving It

The Soil Needs Poo But We Are Depriving It

  • Because we don’t ship our shit back to where the food comes from, we keep perpetuating the redistribution of nutrients on the planet.
  • Soils grow barren, so we use synthetic fertiliser, which isn’t anywhere near as good as the real shit, and also is very polluting to produce.
  • In our quest to rid ourselves of our dangerous dark matter, we’ve broken the essential rules and laws of Mother Nature.
  • By taking our poo out of the equation, we altered not only our agriculture but the entire planet’s ecology.

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A Problem To Solve For The New Generation

  • With so much smart tech, why haven’t we closed our metabolic rift? The problem is that we have to mend another huge fissure in the excremental ideology – not the metabolic but the mindset one.
  • Unlike people in ancient societies, we still think of our excrement as the ultimate waste product that needs to be dealt with. We still don’t view it as an extremely valuable and versatile asset.
  • We spend our efforts and money to remove the dangerous filth rather than to acquire and use a superb product of our metabolic bodies. And that’s the leap of thinking we must achieve to fix the problem fully.

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CURATED BY

anty

I’ve got 99 problems and I’m not dealing with any of them.

CURATOR'S NOTE

Human and animal waste has been misunderstood all along. It is what keeps the earth's ecology balanced.

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