+
Science

How the porta potty could be an unexpected key in the climate fight

This company has transformed the 'least inspiring product' into a champion for sustainability.

How the porta potty could be an unexpected key in the climate fight

Everyone poops, but very few think about where their drain ends.

When you flush in most U.S. cities, your poop is carried by valuable water into a vast network of aging pipes – many of which were installed around World War II – to a centralized treatment plant that wasn’t designed to handle extreme weather events or sea level rise, occurrences we’re experiencing more frequently as a result of climate change.

While the future of sanitation may look bleak, it doesn’t need to be.


In fact, you may not know that waste does not need to be wasted. Poop and pee are packed with valuable nutrients that are currently extracted from the earth to make fertilizer. And in nature, these nutrients cycle from food, through the human body, back into the soil to support the growth of new life.

climate change

Recycling human waste could help combat climate change

Image via wasted.earth

Here’s some context on how climate change is affecting our waste systems. Seas are rising faster than ever (1-2 meters by 2100), and hurricanes are getting more intense and frequent. By 2050, “moderate” (typically damaging) flooding is expected to occur, on average, more than 10 times as often as it does today.

When this flooding occurs, our wastewater treatment plants – often placed on coastlines for ease of effluent discharge – are vulnerable to inundation leading to service disruption.

For example, in 2017, Hurricane Harvey rendered 40 wastewater treatment facilities inoperable due to flooding. Even a month later, 7 facilities remained disconnected, leaving communities with nowhere for their waste streams to be treated before entering surrounding water bodies.

And when these facilities get flooded and services are disrupted, people don’t stop pooping.

Untreated waste leaks into the surrounding environment, causing environmental contamination, aquatic dead zones, biodiversity loss, and public health crises.

We can view this looming disruption as an opportunity to redesign our world in a way that is regenerative, intentional, and informed by nature’s wisdom – where humanity is not only surviving, but thriving along with all life on our planet.

In the case of sanitation, some companies are looking to nature’s design for inspiration.

One of these companies is wasted* – founded to transform the least inspiring product in the world: the porta-potty.

wasted* rents their re-imagined portable toilets to construction sites and events, and transforms the collected waste into fertilizer to support local agriculture.

While their immediate focus is on the traditional porta-potty market, the wasted* vision is to provide climate-resilient, circular sanitation infrastructure in the places that it’s most needed – from large metros to developing countries, disaster relief zones, and refugee camps.

By transforming the portable toilet, wasted* aims to shift the way we relate to what we leave behind – seeing it not as waste, but as a valuable resource. In doing so, their aspiration is to change the way we as humans view ourselves in relation to the rest of life – not as separate from nature, but deeply interconnected.

Other major organizations pushing forward the circular sanitation economy are the Rich Earth Institute, VunaNexus, and Sanitation360 – who are focused on developing processing technologies that transform human waste into fertilizer.

Sanitation is just one piece of a very large puzzle to mend our relationship to the rest of the living world. But as is said by peecycling pioneers at the Rich Earth Institute, we can pee the change we wish to see in the world.


Brophy Tyree is a guest contributor to Upworthy and the CEO/Co-Founder of wasted*

Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

Keep ReadingShow less

Tater Tots, fresh out of the oven.

It’s hard to imagine growing up in America without Tater Tots. They are one of the most popular kiddie foods, right up there with chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. The funny thing is the only reason Tater Tots exist is that their creators needed something to do with leftover food waste.

The Tater Tot is the brainchild of two Mormon brothers, F. Nephi and Golden Grigg, who started a factory on the Oregon-Idaho border that they appropriately named Ore-Ida. The brothers started the factory in 1951 after being convinced that frozen foods were the next big thing.

According to Eater, between 1945 and 1946, Americans bought 800 million pounds of frozen food.

Keep ReadingShow less

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Developmental scientist shared her 'anti-parenting advice' and parents are relieved

In a viral Twitter thread, Dorsa Amir addresses the "extreme pressure put on parents in the West."

Photo by kabita Darlami on Unsplash, @DorsaAmir/Twitter

Parents, maybe give yourselves a break

For every grain of sand on all the world’s beaches, for every star in the known universe…there is a piece well intentioned, but possibly stress-including parenting advice.

Whether it’s the astounding amount of hidden dangers that parents might be unwittingly exposing their child to, or the myriad ways they might be missing on maximizing every moment of interaction, the internet is teeming with so much information that it can be impossible for parents to feel like they’re doing enough to protect and nurture their kids.

However, developmental scientist and mom Dorsa Amir has a bit of “anti-parenting advice” that help parents worry a little less about how they’re measuring up.

First and foremost—not everything has to be a learning opportunity. Honestly, this wisdom also applies to adults who feel the need to be consistently productive…raises hand while doing taxes and listening to a podcast on personal development
Keep ReadingShow less

A guy with road rage screaming out of his car.

A psychologist who’s an expert in narcissism has released a telling video that reveals one of the red flags of the disorder, being an erratic driver.

"Most people, when they tell the story backwards of a narcissistic relationship, are able to see the red flags very clearly,” Dr. Ramani said in her video. “However, seeing them forwards isn't hard. But if you see them too late, it means you've already been through the narcissistic relationship, you're devastated and have likely wasted a lot of time."

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, Professor Emerita of Psychology at California State University and author of several books, including “Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving A Relationship with a Narcissist.”

Keep ReadingShow less
www.youtube.com

Man hailed 'Highway Hero' for running across four lanes of traffic

Holy cow, Bat Man! You're always supposed to be aware of other vehicles when you're driving but what do you do when you notice someone has lost consciousness while speeding down the highway?

It's a scenario that no one wants to see play out, but for Adolfo Molina, the scenario became reality and he didn't hesitate to spring into action. Molina was driving down the highway when he spotted a woman in a blue car who lost consciousness as her car careened down the shoulder of the highway. The concerned driver quickly pulled over in order to attempt to rescue the woman.

But there was a problem, he had to cross four lanes of traffic on the highway just to make it to the woman's still moving car. That obstacle didn't stop him. Molina sprinted across the highway, crossing right in front of a black pick up truck before running at full speed to attempt to open the woman's door and stop her car.

Keep ReadingShow less