lunes, 2 de abril de 2018

Why wet sanitation is washed up, while dry is high and dry

The Shitty State of Human Sanitation
(Part 1: The Problem, originally published in 2013 in Estoy traduciéndolo al español.)

For Chekhovs Kalashnikovs very first interview on Change Makers, we will be talking with Chris Canaday, a biologist from California, about the broken and dangerous state of human and water sanitation systems and the solution to this problem that is damaging our environment and health.

I think that, before we talk about this revolutionary sanitation system, it is important to touch on why the current system is broken. Can you elaborate on how the contemporary western toilet came into being and the devastating effect that it has had on the environment and our health?

People in Europe used to live in total filth in their cities, throwing their excrement out the window. Porcelain flush toilets had been worked on for some time, but only in 1861, after her husband had died of fecally transmitted typhoid, Queen Victoria ordered flush toilets to be refined and installed in much of Britain.

It is also reported that she was so obese that she had trouble squatting and someone decided that it was not dignified for the queen to squat. They gave her a new porcelain throne and then, via mass psychology, all the Western World has wanted the same thing as the queen of England, even if it is not good for them or their environment.

The modern flush toilet has contributed greatly to the cleanliness of cities, but has not really solved the problem, just moved it farther away. Water always gets recycled and there are always more people living downstream. Developed countries spend millions and probably billions of dollars trying to clean up their wastewater, but never really succeed.

The modern flush toilet is largely based on the concept of “out of sight, out of mind”. It is also a prime example of selfishness: cleaning up the environment close to the user, while contaminating everyone’s general environment. 
It is interesting to note that at the same time that Water Closets were being developed, Earth Closets were, too. There was even one reportedly used in Buckingham Palace for a while. Over time, Water Closets won out as the standard for Modern Western Society, likely due to their ease of use and maintenance, as long as piped water comes to the house and sewage goes away.

Another key way in which the current, water-based sanitation system is “broken” is that it is based on the illogical, unsustainable and linear concept that natural resources should be used once and then thrown away. Flush toilets not only throw away huge amounts of water, but also all the nutrients found in the excrement.

With a simple push of a lever, we effectively deplete our agricultural soils and contribute to the eutrophication of rivers, lakes and oceans and, in them, the formation of hypoxic dead zones.
 If these nutrients were instead given back properly to the soil (and if the population were stable), we could forget about the non-renewable, unsustainable chemical fertilizers that are currently the basis of Modern Western Society’s food production. Those who learn to recycle these nutrients in an orderly way now will have every advantage in the future when these chemicals run out, and when there are possibly 9 billion people on Planet Earth, all wanting to eat.

Water is so essential and vital that we simply cannot live without it. Nonetheless, modern homes in developed countries dump between 25 and 40% of their water down the toilet, and the number engineers use in Ecuador is closer to 75%, given the high incidence of unmaintained toilets through which water flows constantly. We need to promote a culture of respect for water, as a source of life, which should never be treated as a garbage dump.

If these are not enough reasons to consider the current water-based toilet to be broken, obsolete and illogical, please consider the following unreliable, unhygienic and not-so-easy aspects of flush toilets:
  • They often need to be scrubbed after each use, if they are going to be presentable.
  • They frequently need to be flushed more than once for everything to go away.
  • They occasionally get plugged and need to be cleared with a plunger, with sewage splashing or overflowing out.
  • They make so much noise that everyone in the building can hear when they get flushed.
  • The great turbulence of flushing creates a plume of microscopic, fecally contaminated water droplets that then land on everything in the bathroom, including the toothbrushes.
In the interest of full disclosure, flush toilets can be somewhat ecologically and socially sustainable in places where water is abundant, human settlement is dispersed, and the soil is absorbent, such that septic tanks (for settling out the solids) and leach lines (= drain fields; for allowing the contaminated water to absorb into the soil) can work properly, at more than 16 meters from wells or streams, and if the septic tank sludge is treated in reedbeds. 

Constructed wetlands are also important tools for treating wastewater, but they require a fair amount of land. On top of this, who knows how far all the different modern synthetic chemicals can travel in the water and the soil? So, in summary, it is most prudent to not mix our excrement in water from the beginning, especially if we have large numbers of people grouped together in a city.

So the reason Colon Cancer is skyrocketing in the Western World today is because we aren’t completely clearing our bowels, thanks to a custom-made invention for a morbidly obese queen?

Yes, and not just colon cancer, but also constipation and hemorrhoids. The natural position human beings have used when defecating, over millions of years, since before we were people, has always been squatting. In this position, the outlet is straight and the body can eliminate its waste more easily, efficiently and completely. When sitting, the outlet is not straight, certain muscles contradict each other, one needs to push more, and not all of the feces come out, so there is more constipation, hemorrhoids, and the colon never gets a rest from being in contact with festering feces, causing a greater incidence of colon cancer).

Squatting has the added advantage that it is more hygienic, especially with respect to women, since the user’s private parts do not touch anything. (Most women apparently never actually sit on a public toilet, but actually sort of hover above, which is much more uncomfortable than squatting all the way down.) Also, the squatting position is more accessible and intuitive for little children, since the floor is the same height for everyone, while a toilet bowl made for adults is much too big, uncomfortable and unsafe for them. Furthermore, in Urine-diverting Dry Toilets (UDDTs), the squatting position allows for a more certain separation of the urine and the feces, plus it is easier and cheaper to build.

In Ecuador, where does all the sanitation waste go? How much water is used and what effect does this have on the environment?


Almost all of Ecuadorian cities’ wastewater goes straight into rivers or bays, except for Cuenca, Shushufindi, and a few other cases where wastewater treatment is done.

The amount of water is huge and the excrement’s nutrients fertilize algae that end up dying and thus consuming the available oxygen in the water, creating the eutrophication and hypoxic zones mentioned above. But the biggest threat is that of pathogens in the water, which are responsible for the majority of disease in the world.

Many people have daily contact with rivers, for bathing, washing clothes or drinking, even only minutes after others have defecated in it, so it is obvious how disease can proliferate. Need more proof? Check out this:

Human Sanitation in Bumbay, India

I can just imagine the collective shit and piss from the hundreds of thousands of people living in Ecuadorian cities like Coca, Tena, and Puyo flowing into these Amazonian Rivers. What I find scary however is that this problem is not confined to Ecuador or even the South American Amazon but is worldwide.
What happens to communities that live on river banks, lakes, and areas prone to flooding with respect to worms, bacteria, and water-bourne diseases, like cholera that can be prevented with this system?

Yes, it is a discomforting thought, but the volume of shit is actually much greater if we remember that the millions of people who live in certain Andean cities in Ecuador, including Latacunga, Ambato, Riobamba, Cuenca, and Loja, also dump their waste into Amazonian rivers. Unfortunately, as you say, this situation is all too common in the world, where 90% of wastewater goes into the environment without proper treatment.

Even in countries like the United States, where things are presumably all under control, there are thousands of “sanitary accidents” every year, in which untreated sewage goes straight into the environment.

There are also numerous pharmaceuticals that cannot be removed from the water via conventional methods, such as antibiotics, antidepressives, and artificial hormones from birth control pills.

In addition, the current system of trying to kill the germs in the water with chemicals in one city, and the next downstream, and the next downstream, is a recipe for these germs to get resistant to these chemicals, especially if at the same time people are drinking and bathing in other peoples antibiotics. This has generated multiresistant strains of microbes that we cannot kill with chemicals to heal the people who get sick with them , nor can we be sure to disinfect a swimming pool even by adding chlorine.

In terms of health, the worst thing about flooding is that everyone is in everyone else’s shit.
This is an even bigger problem on the coast of Ecuador, where huge areas get flooded, with millions of people being affected, and it is getting worse with Global Climate Disruption. Urine-diverting Dry Toilets (UDDTs), on the other hand, can simply be built above the highest level of the flood waters.


One of the scariest results of all this fecal contamination, aside from diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, poliomyelitis, hepatitis, and other microbial diseases, is the high incidence of roundworms of the genus Ascaris, which infect about one-seventh of the world human population . There is a reason that the word for disgust in Spanish, “asco”, is so similar:
  • These can be almost as thick as a pencil and up to 40 cm long.
  • When babies are deparasitized, their diapers sometimes look like plates of noodles.
  • Adult female roundworms produce 200,000 eggs per day and these can be viable in shaded, moist soil for years.
  • The eggs do not just get swallowed and develop into adults in the intestines. Instead, they have intermediate stages that navigate in the host’s bloodstream, throughout the body. Eventually, they come out into the alveoli of the lungs, get coughed up and swallowed, and only then become adults.
  • Roundworm infection is a big factor in many children doing poorly in school, since the worms consume so much of their food that little is left for the kids’ brains.
In Part 2 of this article Chris Canaday will tell us about the solution to human waste disposal and how it will solve much of the planets sustainability problems.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

The Shitty State of Human Sanitation
(Part 2: The Solution, originally published in 2013 at

water-sanitationIn Part 2 of this interview about human waste disposal and water sanitation Chris tells us the solution to all of the problems mentioned in Part 1: The Problem.

How did the new design for a sustainable human waste disposal system come into being?

In the 1950s, before the regrettable Vietnam War, a team of Vietnamese doctors analyzed why so many people were sick and how to control this. They found a great number of people were collecting “night soil” in buckets that were emptied in the morning directly in agricultural fields, where people worked largely barefoot.

The doctors realized that 90% of the fertilizer is in the urine that transmits no disease when dispersed in the soil, while essentially all the health risk is packaged with only 10% of the fertilizer in the feces. The answer was to keep the urine separate and set it free on the soil immediately, while jailing up the shit, until it is not shit any more.
Mr Shit and Ms Piss in English
In their case, they applied a detention time of three months, plus they added wood ash. This team that invented Urine-diverting Dry Toilets (UDDTs) was apparently anonymous, although it would be good for credit to go where credit is due, and to know more about the process.

UDDTs were later picked up by the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden, as a solution for the abundant cabins out in the Swedish woods, where running water is not feasible in the winter due to freezing, but they would never accept that their many beautiful lakes get contaminated.
They also actively promote these as a means to improve the health and sanitation of billions of people in the world.

I also suspect that certain ancient cultures had UDDTs, in particular the densely populated Amazonian peoples that made Terra Preta do Indio (Indian’s Black Soil, in Portuguese), until they were apparently decimated by Old World diseases soon after the arrival of Europeans.

No one knows yet exactly how they made these deep, dark, rich, long-lasting, productive soils, in the midst of extremely poor, highly weathered, clayey Amazonian lands, but I highly doubt that they were wasting the nutrients in their feces while they were doing so.
 ”Documentary: The Secret of El Dorado”

improved sanitation system 
Can you explain how the design for this human waste disposal system works?

It is very simple and seeks to follow the natural order of things. The urine and feces that the body excretes separately are kept separate, to be dealt with separately, since they are totally different things.

The urine is caught in a funnel toward the front, since both men and women pee forward, and it goes back to the soil and the plants, where it transmits no diseases. (A bit of the urine from women may drip farther back, but this small amount is not a problem.)

Urine is normally sterile and there are only a handful of weird diseases that it ever transmits, plus for that to happen it has to go into rivers or contact the next person directly. The various microbes of urinary tract infections and vaginal infections either get destroyed rapidly in the soil or are natural inhabitants of the soil anyway. Many of these come from the gut, but here they are in much smaller numbers and are highly diluted, as compared to in the feces.

In addition, sexually transmitted diseases cannot live outside of the body any significant amount of time.
Sit Right

Feces drop farther back, directly into alternately used chambers or exchangeable receptacles and are covered immediately with dry cover material, such as soil, wood ash, sawdust, rice hulls, or a mix of these. They are then stored, protected from the rain, for at least six months in tropical countries or a year in temperate countries, so that all the disease organisms die and it all just becomes soil.

In fact, all the worst diseases, like cholera, diarrhea and typhoid, are wiped out in a much shorter time and the guideline of six months or a year is so that intestinal worm eggs, which are the most resistant pathogens but are much less life-threatening, are also eliminated. Most victims of these worms do not even know that they have them.

Shit is a temporary condition. After its jail sentence, it’s no longer shit: we open the chambers or receptacles and find dark, humus-rich soil, with no smell or health risk.
UDD-dry-toiletThis stands to reason, since our pathogens are adapted to living in water without oxygen inside our guts, not in a pile of dry material, especially if there is soil in the pile, with all of its bacteria, fungus, protozoans and invertebrates.

These soil organisms are entirely at home in such a pile, where they eat and rip up anything that is over-abundant or out of place.

After this jail sentence, we can also apply secondary treatments involving heat, sun, earthworms or composting together with food scraps (especially thermophilic composting), for extra peace of mind or to speed things up.

We can build UDDTs for sitting or for squatting. In addition to all the health benefits mentioned above for squatting, this also allows for better separation of the urine and easier, less expensive construction.

Modern Western People tend to suffer from a psychological disease called fecophobia, which is an irrational fear of feces. Shit is a normal part of life and there is no disease in it that the user did not have from before, so, if the person is healthy, there is no health risk in his or her shit, only an unpleasant smell to be controlled and nutrients to be taken advantage of. If the user is sick, their pathogens get destroyed in the UDDT, as long as it is being managed properly.
dry-toilet-sanitationThere can be a health risk if, in a multi-family system, some of the users are sick and they are not using their UDDTs properly, such that some of their feces get mixed into the urine, but this can be controlled by storing the urine for a number of months (depending on the climate) or distributing it below the surface of the soil, where no one will have contact with it. The greatest health risk occurs when we do not think rationally about this and do the irrational act of throwing it in the river, where others can have contact immediately.

UDDTs are literally a matter of loving and trusting Mother Earth, in which we respectfully give back that which we no longer need, to let her deal with it. If we turn back the clock on shit, we find delicious food on the table. If we turn back the clock again (twice in the case of meat), we find beautiful plants growing in the sunlight. One more click and we see rich soil, so what is to keep it from becoming soil again, if we turn the dial forward again?

(Some commercial models do not use cover material, but rather have electric fans to make sure the air is always going away from the user. One of these is the Ecodomeo, which has a pedal-operated conveyor belt that carries the shit away)

The design has changed very little since the 1950’s. Have you made any modifications to make it better suit the Ecuadorian Andes and Amazon?

My line of work has been aimed at making UDDTs as easy and inexpensive to build as possible, while keeping user acceptance high.

In other words, my goal is for the building of a good dry toilet to be more a matter of a paradigm shift than a big capital investment. For this reason, I have found ways to build with readily available materials, especially since factory-made units are mostly not available in Ecuador.

One of the biggest changes I made from the start was to distribute the urine immediately via perforated hoses in the soil, instead of storing the urine in jugs, to later dilute and apply it as fertilizer among crop plants.

Organic farmers looking for every bit of natural fertilizer for their plants might be willing to do the latter, but the average user will not want to deal with smelly, fermenting urine every few days. In most of my designs, these hoses are buried 10 cm below the surface of the soil, among productive plants, like fruit trees, that can put the nutrients to good use.

In the interest of making UDDTs accessible to everyone, I published a paper in the Austrian online magazine, Sustainable Sanitation Practice, on Simple UDDTs that may be built with recycled and other readily available materials, such as disposable plastic bottles and wood: Some of the models shown here cost close to nothing.

Another surprising innovation is the storage of feces in the ubiquitous, woven, polypropylene plastic sacks used to sell rice, flour and many other products. These make excellent receptacles for this use, since humidity can evaporate out and oxygen can filter in, but flies, smells and pathogens cannot get in or out.

At first glance, people would imagine liquids oozing out, but they never do, thanks to the dry and absorbent cover material. Also, these sacks last for years and years, if they are not exposed to the sun’s UV rays. One of the biggest advantages of using interchangeable containers, like sacks, is that, at the first sign of  any problems with smell or flies, you can simply change the container and the problem is resolved immediately. Another is that the feces get covered better in a small container, as compared to a big chamber.

One of the most practical ways to use these sacks is to place them as liners of plastic bins, so the sacks are held open nicely and it is easy to change them. It is also good to make holes in the bottom of the bin, and have it propped up off the ground, to allow humidity to evaporate out and for oxygen to get in, since all the worst smells associated with latrines and sewer lines are generated by bacteria that live in the absence of oxygen.

Even more surprising for many, I have found that the finished compost from this system is the best material to cover new shit. Many of the right soil microbes are still there, likely in an inactive state (like fungal spores and bacterial endospores), ready to jump back into action when there is more shit (with its moisture) to have a party in.

In this way, natural selection and the rapid evolution of microbes are working in our favor, helping them get more efficient at breaking down exactly our shit, in exactly the conditions we keep them in. In contrast, the system of water-based toilets and trying to kill the germs in a short time with chemicals is a recipe for evolution to produce microbes that are more and more resistant to the chemicals used and that are potentially more and more virulent in disease

This recycling of cover material makes the operation of UDDTs much more practical and inexpensive, especially in cities and isolated locations, since new cover material does not need to be acquired and transported constantly, nor does much of the finished compost need to trucked away. That which does have to go would not have to go very far, if neighbors, nearby neighborhoods or nearby cities sign up for UDDTs or if urban agriculture is being done.
Another good reason to use the finished compost as cover material is that it filters odors much more efficiently than most other materials, removing and breaking down up to 99% of volatile organic compounds.

It has also been shown to eliminate 75% of the reduced sulfur compound emissions that most contribute to the characteristic aroma of shit in a laboratory study of conditions similar to those of commercial composting operations (Büyüksönmez et al. 2012, ), and up to 97% of the stench from landfills (Hurst et al. 2005)

There have been a couple of isolated cases of dogs or rats being attracted by the odor and messing with the sack that is receiving the feces, but only when sawdust was being used a cover material, not when finished compost was being used (and this is another reason for the plastic bin mentioned above).

Hygiene Hypothesis of Disease
Furthermore, there is research showing that children who grow up in overly clean and disinfected homes, without contact with soil, have a much higher incidence of asthma and allergies, since their immune systems do not have anything to train on.

  family with better sanitation
So, having soil-like decomposed feces in the bathroom as cover material may well be a health benefit, instead of a health risk like one might suspect, as long as we are certain that the actual pathogens have died during its storage or treatment.

Humans evolved in complete ecosystems, including all the normal microbes, not in sterilized boxes, so it would make sense that bringing more parts of the ecosystem into the city would make it healthier for people.

This is all the more reason to build green, living roofs and vertical gardens on urban apartment buildings (and I have figured out how to do this with disposable Coke bottles).

At the moment, you are working with Achuar communities to implement this system. Has it been difficult to explain the environmental and health benefits of this system? What are some of the problems and breakthroughs you have had?

Changing anyone’s toilet habits is an imminently cultural endeavor and it is usually an uphill battle. People need to understand the concept, but, almost more importantly, they need to see and smell that UDDTs work.

I have built UDDTs with a variety of ethnic groups here in Ecuador, including mestizos, Kichwa, Shuar, Achuar, Waorani, and a little bit among the Secoyas. Of these, the Achuar have, so far, shown the greatest degree of acceptance. They are culturally very hygienic and traditionally live in houses scattered widely out in the forest, so they always had lots of forest to hygienically deposit their feces into. They covered them with soil and leaves, where the ecosystem absorbs them, without anyone else having contact with them.

The Achuar have only had permanent contact with white people starting in about 1970, when schools and landing strips began to be built and they started settling fairly densely around these.
It is also worth remembering that all the worst diseases were brought by the Europeans and it is estimated that 90% of the indigenous people in America died of those diseases when Europeans first came to America.

I think that potentially the Achuar have been quite concerned about fecal contamination for the last several decades, since they started living together in villages. Each family could be fairly certain of its own health and not so certain of that of the others, but all the children come together daily at the school and do their business behind the same trees. Also, it is a matter of privacy, since some of the villages are pretty large, with the houses fairly close to one another.

When I explain UDDTs to them, I emphasize the fact that, with open defecation in the woods, all these microbial enemies are set free, ready to attack us at any moment, whereas, with a dry toilet, these enemies are jailed up until they all die. They usually get the idea very quickly, but it is still a process to get them to build and use them, since old habits die slowly in any group of people.
In the last year and a half, we have built 31 UDDTs in 15 Achuar villages with the ACRA Foundation (of Italy) and the Chankuap Foundation (of Macas, Ecuador), with support from the European Union and the Municipality of Taisha 

Over several years, the Pachamama Foundation and I have built over 21 UDDTs in the Achuar villages of Pumpuentsa and Kurintsa, with a high degree of acceptance
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore are being built all the time and volunteers are welcome to help with this. As I write this, the Achuar village of Juyukamentsa is organizing to build UDDTs for each of 16 families and I would like to find a volunteer to help them, especially to contribute to good replication of the design, wood preservation, and education about their proper use and maintenance.

So if the Amazonian Achuar tribe can be convinced, could your average Australian, European, or North American can be convinced as well? Can you envision a time when the whole of humanity uses this system or are our heads too far stuck up our collective asses to change our behavior for the better?

At first glance, this may seem like a system that is only applicable for hippies, organic farmers, and Indians out in the woods, but, in reality, it is a prime alternative for everyone who wants to be civilized with their neighbors, future generations, and Nature. It is also fully feasible in cities, especially if the relatively small amount of shit is stored on-site during its jail sentence and is then recycled as cover material, while the urine and excess soil is used locally in urban agriculture. (Remember the vertical gardens I mentioned?)

We can also greatly shorten the jail sentence by storing the shit in solar ovens, potentially down to less than a day of good sun, since all we need to kill fecal pathogens is 7 minutes at 70°C, 30 minutes at 65°C, 2 hours at 60°C, 15 hours at 55°C, or 3 days at 50°C. (Feacham et al. 1983 and Strauch 1991, 1998, cited by Richard Higgins)

This is also more practical than cooking lunch in a solar oven, since untimely clouds do not make us put up with hunger.

The trick is to make these toilets as easy-to-use and presentable as possible. We currently ask users to add a cup of cover material after each use, but they do not always remember to do so and they often do not aim very well, spilling it into the urine funnel and around the toilet. For this reason, mechanisms are being worked out to add the cover material mechanically, such as in one project (that I was marginally involved in) that works via a pedal:

I even have a design in mind in which the user will not have to remember to step on a pedal, nor would it involve electronic sensors.
volunteers at dry toilet Another factor is that many users will not want to deal with the shit and the piss. This can be resolved by setting up service-provider companies that come to homes and offices to change the containers, hygienically process the contents, and (optimally) put the resulting fertilizers back to work in their own agriculture.

With these companies applying the final products in agriculture themselves, this would increase the reliability that everything gets its proper treatment, while converting it back to delicious fruits and vegetables, which will be infinitely easier to market than the pee and the poop.

This nutrient recycling is logical and necessary if we want to have sustainable agriculture and food security. An adult eats a lot of food, but is not growing, so all the nutrients eventually come back out and, if we give them back to our crop plants, they have exactly what they need to make our food again (together with solar energy).

In this way, we can forget about chemical fertilizers, if we also have a stable population size. Of course, we have to eventually forget about chemical fertilizers, because they come from non-renewable sources.

Commercial ammonia and urea, for nitrogenous fertilizer, are produced with natural gas from oil wells (as a hydrogen source to combine with nitrogen from the air), and natural gas is already starting to run out, with the peak of production estimated to occur in 2020

It is even estimated that half of the protein found in present-day human beings was made with nitrogen originally fixed by this artificial process, thus being one more case of fossil fuels subsidizing economic and population growth.

Phosphorus is also a finite, non-renewable, unreplaceable resource and phosphoric rock extraction is estimated to peak around 2035, with reserves remaining mainly in Morocco after that. Peak Phosphorous is the scariest thing you’ve never heard of.

UDDTs are an important tool for combating Global Climate Disruption more CO2 absorbed by fertilizing plants and trees,more carbon sequestered into the soil by integrating organic matter,less methane emitted by avoiding anaerobic fermentation of feces in water,less need for chemical fertilizers (another big source of GHGs),less use of petroleum for pumping and treating water,less need for cement for building big sewers (since cement production is a big source of CO2.

Improved water-holding capacity of soils, in the face of droughts, easy construction above the high water line (or on a floating structure), in the face of floods,less demand for precious clean water.
dry toilet sanitation system
Many rule out the mainstreaming of these dry toilets, as they cannot imagine the masses changing their toilet habits. This sort of toilet is not for everyone, but it is for everyone who wants to build a sustainable future for their children and those who do not learn to recycle nutrients will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs.

The Chinese have been recycling nutrients into the soil for thousands of years and this is one of the reasons they have had a continuous, advanced culture for such a long time. Recycling animal and human dung is the key to sustainable farming

Of course, they have not always done so in such an organized way, but there are now more than a million modern UDDTs functioning in China

I am convinced that more people can learn to do what cats do by instinct: cover their shit with soil. Let’s keep water clean by keeping shit dirty.

Thank you so much for sharing your time and knowledge! To follow Chris Canaday and his team’s work, check out these websites:

viernes, 5 de mayo de 2017

Wurinatu -- un Urinario Público Florido para Mujeres / a Flowery Public Urinal for Women

(Scroll down for English.)

Una gran preocupación de las mujeres es la privacidad en el momento de orinar. Otra es el riesgo de infecciones si el baño no está limpio. Peor si se tiene que orinar en un lugar público, donde no se sabe quién ha estado ahí con qué enfermedades ... y solo hay inodoros para sentado ... y la gran mayoría de las mujeres no quieren sentarse, por temor a los gérmenes. Además, les duelen los músculos de las piernas al orinar "medias voladas" encima de esos inodoros y no pueden vaciar sus vejigas tan completamente. Es un gran problema para la mitad de la población y, a continuación, sugiero una solución.

El Wurinatu resuelve esta situación y permite a las mujeres orinar con privacidad, menos olores y gérmenes y hasta en un entorno natural florecido. Comparto esta idea con el mundo mediante una licencia de "Bienes Creativos Comunes" (en particular, se debe reconocer mi autoría, contarme cómo le va en su aplicación, avisarme de mejoras que se hagan y negociar conmigo su uso comercial).

Wurinatu es una contracción de "Women urinate in nature" (Mujeres orinan en la naturaleza), pero también suena como: "¡Wuu! Orina, tú.", "Worry? Not you.", "Oui, nature.", "Vou urinar. Tú?", "Wow, urination is innate." y "We're ornato." (¿Suena como algo interesante en los idiomas que hablan ustedes?)

Consiste en:
  • Un tanque de 1000 o más litros, como los del transporte del concentrado de CocaCola.
  • Un césped, con el debido suelo, adaptado encima del tanque.
  • Paredes de plantas para privacidad y para proteger el tanque. Pueden ser de setos de arbustos o trepadoras sobre sombráculos. (En caso de ser necesario, se podría incrementar otra estructura de privacidad en la parte de afuera.)
  • Gradas para subir.
  • Un embudo plástico de unos 25 cm diámetro, donde la mujer orina en cuclillas. (Hemos usado estos en Inodoros Ecológicos Secos con Separación de la Orina éxitosamente desde el año 2000.)
  • Una malla plástica en la "garganta" del embudo para prevenir el ingreso de basuras.
  • Una manguera hasta el fondo del tanque, para que el olor no pueda regresar donde la usuaria.
  • Salida del aire apestoso debajo de la tierra de una jardinera, donde la tierra absorbe el olor y los microbios lo consumen.
  • Una Fuente a Pedal, hecho de una botella plástica, para lavar las manos, con el agua regando las flores (véase una a continuación).

(Si hay agua entubada o un tanque, también podemos hacer algo similar para el lavado de manos con la válvula de inodoros de agua.)

Las ventajas incluyen:
  • Se puede bajar completamente en cuclillas, para mayor comodidad y, como es la posición más natural, permite vaciar más completamente la vejiga (y hay donde agarrarse para equilibrio).
  • Más aire y menos olores, como no hay un techo.
  • Más luz (durante el día) y el sol ayuda a quemar microbios.
  • La lluvia lo limpia (y la usuaria puede usar su paraguas o chaqueta... y solo tienen que estar ahí un instante).
  • Cualquier salpicada de orina fuera del embudo es absorbida y transformada por el césped.
  • Hay menos preocupación de patógenos fecales, ya que es un sitio únicamente para la orinación (y puede haber multas para las que defequen aquí).
  • Observación de colibríes y mariposas que consumen un néctar mientras la mujer emite otro.
  • No requiere conexión al agua entubada o al alcantarillado.
  • 1999 mujeres pueden orinar medio litro cada una antes de que se llene.
  • Las personas que caminan afuera podrán escuchar si algo malo ocurre adentro.
  • Permite guardar la orina pura para luego extraerla para usar como fertilizante en la agricultura o jardines (incluso podemos agregar otros ingredientes para fermentar mejores fertilizantes, como Nadia Andreev hace en Moldova).
La orina es una gran fertilizante y contiene el 90 % de los nutrientes que un ser humano emite. Su mayor constituyente, aparte de agua, es la urea, el principal fertilizante comercial. Este líquido dorado se extrae del Wurinatu mediante la llave en su parte inferior. Puede llevarse en canecas de 20 litros (colocadas en un pequeño hueco en la tierra frente a la llave) o un camión tanquero.

La menstruación no es un problema. Se puede quitar cualquier sangre del embudo y del césped con una botella de agua en chisguete (= atomizadora, rociadora) que está amarrada a la estructura con una cuerda (y no está incluida en la ilustración). Las copas menstruales pueden vaciarse y enjuagarse en el embudo; las mujeres pueden traer botellas de agua limpia de sus casas o usar la misma botella de chisguete (según la ubicación y la población de usuarias). Si hay agua entubada, se podría instalar una manguera rociadora, para estos fines. Toallas y tampones pueden desecharse en el tacho de basura. La mezcla de un poco de sangre en la orina no es un inconveniente en su uso como fertilizante:

Estoy buscando dónde hacer el primer Wurinatu. En especial, pienso hacerlo en una universidad, colegio, escuela, estación de bus, parque, oficina, fábrica u otra concentración de mujeres. También, quisiera encontrar quién nos done o venda económicamente estos tanques.

  • Donde hay suficiente espacio, se podría hacer esto sin el tanque y las gradas, simplemente encauzando a una manguera perforada unos 10 cm debajo de la superficie de la tierra, entre árboles frutales, plantas de banano, áreas de reforestación, etc. Podría estar al lado de la casa para mayor facilidad y seguridad, aun en la ciudad, si hay un jardín lo suficientemente grande como para fertilizar.
  • También tengo pensado cómo hacer esto en los metros y otros lugares donde no hay suficiente luz para las plantas. En este caso, sería de hacer las paredes de privacidad de plástico traslucente hasta la altura que sea necesaria y, de ahí hasta el tumbado, una malla. Al ser traslucente, los transeuntes y policías podrán ver que no ocurre nada malo adentro, además de lo que podrán escuchar fácilmente por encima de las paredes. La malla protegería a la usuaria de cosas que se lancen por encima de las paredes. Podría estar abierto toda la noche, ya que no se prestaría para cometer crímenes. (Esto es un gran problema en Nueva York y muchas otras ciudades.) Podríamos llamarlo un "Wurinetro" (Women urinate in the metro).

Cuando hay la 'llamada de la naturaleza',
es mejor estar rodeada de la naturaleza misma.

Vean también este urinario más sencillo, pero muy efectivo:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Wurinatu: a Flowery Public Urinal for Women
A major concern for women is privacy when urinating. Another is the risk of infections, if the bathroom is not clean. Even worse, if you have to go when you are out in a public toilet, where who knows who has been there with who knows what disease ... and there are only sit-down toilets ... which most women do not want to even touch, for fear of germs. In addition, it hurts their thigh muscles to "hover" over those toilets and they cannot empty their bladders completely. This is a big problem for half of the population, and here I suggest a solution.

The Wurinatu solves all these problems and lets women pee in privacy, with fewer odors and germs, and even in a natural, flowery place. I share this idea with the world via a "Creative Commons license" (in which my authorship should be recognized, I should be told how things go with its application, be advised of any improvements that are made, and any commercial use needs to be negociated with me).

Wurinatu is a contraction of "Women urinate in nature", but it also sounds like: "¡Wuu! Orina, tú.", "Worry? Not you!", "Oui, nature.", "Vou urinar. Tú?", "Wow, urination is innate.", and "We're ornato." (Does it sound like anything interesting in the languages you speak?)

It consists of:
  • A 1000-liter plastic tank (an IBC, intermediate bulk container), like is used to transport CocaCola extract.
  • A lawn, with its respective soil, on top of the tank.
  • Privacy walls of hedges or vines on trellises. (If needed, an additional privacy structure could be added to the outside.) 
  • Steps.
  • A plastic funnel of about 25 cm diameter, where the woman can urinate squatting. (We have been successfully using these in Urine-diverting Dry Toilets for 17 years.)
  • A plastic mesh folded into the "throat" of the funnel to keep junk out.
  • A hose that reaches to the bottom of the tank, so that odor cannot come back toward the user.
  • The smelly air that comes out of the tank filters through the soil of the flower planter, where microbes consume the malodorous substances.
  • A TippyTap for hand-washing, made from a plastic bottle, with the water irrigating the flowers underneath. (See below.)

(If there is piped water or a water tank, we can also arrange something similar for hand-washing with the valves from flush toilets.) 

Advantages include:
  • Women can squat all the way down, which is more comfortable and, since this is the most natural position, it allows the complete drainage of the bladder. (There is also somewhere to hold on to for equilibrium).
  • More air and less smell, as there is no roof.
  • More light (during the day) and the sun helps to kill microbes.
  • Rain cleans it (and people can continue to use their umbrellas and jackets ... plus they only need to be there for a moment.)
  • Any misdirected urine gets absorbed and transformed by the lawn.
  • Less concern about fecal pathogens, since this is a place only for urination (and there can be fines for those who defecate here).
  • The woman can watch hummingbirds and butterflies drink one nectar while she emits another.
  • No need for piped water or sewer lines.
  • 1999 women can each pee half a liter before it fills.
  • People walking outside can hear if anything bad is happening inside.
  • The stored urine can be used as fertilizer in agriculture or gardens. (It can even be fermented right here with other ingredients to make an even better fertilizer, like Nadia Andreev does in Moldova.)
Urine is a great fertilizer and holds 90% of the nutrients that humans emit. The most abundant substance in it, aside from water, is urea, which is the number one commercial fertilizer. This golden liquid is removed from the Wurinatu through its valve near the bottom. This could be via 5-gallon jugs (that we can put in a small hole in the ground) or a tank truck.

Menstration is not a problem. Any blood on the funnel or the lawn can be washed away using a spray bottle tied to the structure with a string (not shown in the drawing). Menstrual cups can be emptied and rinsed into the funnel, and women can bring bottles of clean water from home for this or the same spray bottle could be used (depending on where the unit is and who the users are). If there is piped water, a spray hose can also be installed for this. Disposable pads and tampons can be thrown in the trash bin. A little bit of blood in the urine does not impede its use as fertilizer:

I am looking for the first place to build a Wurinatu. I am especially interested in doing it at a university, high school, grade school, bus station, park, office, factory, or any other concentration of women or girls. I would also like to find someone who can donate these tanks (or sell them to us at a low price).

Variations on this theme:
  • If there is enough space, this could be done without the tank and steps, by simply distributing the urine in the soil via a perforated hose buried 10 cm below the surface, among fruit trees, banana plants, reforestation, etc. This can be right next to the house, for more ease and security, even in the city, if there is a big enough garden to fertilize.
  • In subways and other places without enough light for the plants, the privacy walls could be made with translucent plastic that is just as high as necessary, with mesh reaching all the way to the ceiling. The translucency would allow passersby and police to see if anything bad is happening inside, plus they hear easily over the walls. The mesh would protect the user from things being thrown over the wall. It could be kept open all night, since it would not lend itself to crime, thus very important in New York City (NYC) and many other cities. We could call it a "Wurinetro" (Women urinate in the metro).

When nature calls, we want to be surrounded by nature.
Also see this simpler, but very effective, urinal: