I am a big fan of National Geographic and have been reading the magazine for as long as I can remember and watching the specials on television. Recently I’ve started to look at their website and following them on Facebook.
While browsing this week, I came across a video called, “Holy Crap!” about how human excrement is actually being used as a rich fertilizer in Haiti. That’s right: this is the ultimate in self-sustainability!
Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is a non-profit organization that works in Haiti to protect soil resources as well as turning waste into more valuable resources. SOIL, with partner OXFAM Great Britain, have created a special toilet system which separates urine from the solid waste that will be used for farming. Not only does this mean that there is increased sanitation in Haitian communities, but there has also been an increase in jobs – something Haitians have been lacking since the earthquake that devastated Port au Prince in 2010.
If you’re wondering how the pathogens are removed from the waste, they use sugar cane begas (the stockpiled material left over from sugar milling). Begas are high in carbon and increase microbial action, raising the temperature of the waste-sugar cane begas mixture, which kills pathogens.
As the video states:
Human Poop + Skills and knowledge =
- Public Health
It just goes to show that with a little innovation and initiative, valuable resources for sustainability are at our fingertips. We just have to be willing to work with what is available to us, and not be afraid to get a little dirty.
Lauren Wingham-Smith is a Municipal Peer Review Team Project Assistant with Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited, acting on behalf of the Municipality of Port Hope. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering, specializing in Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Economics. This multidisciplinary background allows Lauren to view both the environmental and human effects of engineering projects. She is also passionate about green innovation and design.