Saturday, February 28, 2009

Toilets: The New Partitioned Kiddie Plates

NEW YORK, New York -- Call it "Much Ado About Poo." If America, or at least its president, is lurching toward a new direction of some degree of responsibility vis-a-vis the energy we use and the waste we create, one of the most neglected nexuses of waste and energy has got to be poop, following close behind pee.

But maybe not for long. The Times is going gangbusters with its fecal reporting, perhaps realizing that its reporting should mirror its medium-term financial prospects, which are shit.

This weekend brings a relative tidal wave of bathroom-humorless stories, namely one about cowpie fertilizer from Connecticut (the state's second-biggest export, after blogs) and another on dual-chambered toilets that separate urine from feces. That's why I like to think of toilets as the 21st-century version of Hello Kitty-brand partitioned plates like I once had.

Boston newspaper readers, always a few steps ahead of New York, naturally, were treated to a much more comprehensive look at the issue last summer -- and the Boston Globe article in question may have been good reading for the Times' Rose George. Ms. George, filing her piece from England, implies that Americans are so far behind in their compost-toilet technology that we need to travel to China to see the toilets in action, or to Sweden to import them. A quick scan of the first half of last summer's Globe article would've shown her, however, that companies in Lawrence, Massachusetts, have been manufacturing the toilets for schools in Weston, Massachusetts, for starters.

Nonetheless, our relationship with human waste is a somewhat ... wasteful ... one, and people are getting smart to this. The getting-smartest thing I've seen, oddly, probably came from a big New York developer that offered a plan to build a huge new skyscraper development in Manhattan's Hudson Yards area that would recycle wastewater and feature "flushless" toilets. Though the developer, Tishman Speyer, failed to sign for the project after its bid was selected and the entire project may be on hold for a long time yet, the day when No. 1 stays away from No. 2 may be fast approaching.

1 comment:

  1. Itchy, for over a year now there's been an uber-green bathroom at the Bronx Zoo. Check out for the article from the WCS's Conservation magazine (though unfortunately mis-uploaded under a different article's heading!)