Imagine living in rural Kenya; or, rural India; or, rural China, and Nature rings you up, and says, “Hey, you need to evacuate your colon, pronto!”
Facilities in the developing world can be crude, few, and far-between. In rural areas facilities become a tree or a hole in the ground. And, perhaps, a plastic shopping bag. Once your mostly-digested breakfast from yesterday, or chicken from lunch and the associated fecal coli-form bacteria that is happily munching away on what your body could not use, is placed inside said plastic bag, and tied closed, that bag is then tossed aside, or flung. The “flinging” then becomes known as a “helicopter toilet” or a “flyaway toilet.”
I imagine the “helicopter”-effect arises from the difference in weight and the effect that has on the bag’s center of gravity, causing the bag to rotate through the air as if a propeller. Yay! Kids probably think this is great fun. Much like buffalo chip throwing contests here in the States, I envision places having Flyaway Toilet Competitions. Maybe they even have medals! Get your name in the local paper. I wonder if they would calculate a handicap; some people generate large stools that would translate into greater distances. Against people like me, they would have an unfair advantage. Perhaps classes, like flyweight, welterweight, bantamweight, and heavyweight, similar to boxing, would make for a fair Flyaway Toilet Competition. Winners could receive the Golden Sack.
Seriously, though, 40% of the world’s population does not have access to a toilet, according to the United Nations. Taking care of human waste becomes an issue of sanitation and therefore human health.
A Swedish inventor has devised biodegradable bags to hold human excrement. Anders Wilhelmson’s new Peepoo bag takes human excrement, neutralizes harmful biotics, and converts it into fertilizer. When the Peepoo bag is buried the resulting fertilizer can be used to support agriculture.
I honestly had no idea there was a World Toilet Organization or a World Toilet Summit 2010. I can imagine driving past the Hampton Inn and seeing, “Welcome, World Toilet Summit 2010 Attendees! Please Do Not Leave the Seat Up,” on the welcome sign. I want the “Please Poop On My Day” t-shirt and the other cool swag I bet they have.
But these diligent and thoughtful people are concerned with handling human waste (HW). Can we convert HW into biogas and cook with it? I would hope so; lighting a match in some men’s rooms would probably result in 1st and 2nd degree burns, loss of eyebrows and facial hair, and significant property damage.
What about composting HW? Sure, why not. Kill the harm pathogens, and some chemicals, bury the bag, let it decompose; then, wah-la: fertilizer to help feed the masses.