Is this greenwashing — the "third-world toilet"?

That seems to be an awful lot of technology to go into a toilet. I feel like there's a lot of systematic failures here — governmental, cultural and economic — that an expensive techno-toilet just isn't going to fix.

And if we, the developed world, can't even guarantee these people a safe spot to crap in the ground, how on earth are people going to house such scatological technologies? Sanitation isn't particularly a difficult concept — in gravity-fed sanitation systems, you don't even need metal pipes. Terracotta pipes and fired mudbricks can be used to build sewage systems.

It does require a functioning government, though. And a decent chunk of money.

The thing that these toilets don't solve?

The waste demands of economic development — from food and drinking establishments to factories, business and industry consume and produce a staggering amount of waste.

Oct 11, 12 2:46 pm

The article also addresses systems that use no technology at all: 

"The sulabh toilet requires only a liter or so of water per manual “flush.” A family or neighborhood can use the toilet until one pit is filled, then switch to the other one. In a couple of years, when the second pit is full, the contents of the first have decomposed, become sanitary, and can be removed for use as fertilizer."

Infrastructure of any kind requires a functioning government and a lot of money. We are having trouble in the US to not only install plumbing necessary for recycled water, but also to get regulations to allow the use of recycled water for toilet flushing and irrigation.

I think the question the article is trying to raise is that applying "western" strategies of a traditional water/waste infrastructure may not be the most efficient for today's world  and there are other options in both rural and urban settings that are more appropriate. It is about "closing the loop" and some technology free solutions might  work in certain situations, but the reality is that the growing middle class wants the status symbol of the traditional toilet and some of the examples provided start to address that. 

Oct 11, 12 2:55 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: