Category Archives: human waste

Top 10 Ways to Put Human Waste to Use in an Environmentally-Friendly Way

Recycling of human waste, which refers to feces and urine, has many benefits. According to research, on average a human produces fifty liters of feces and five hundred liters of urine. Instead of disposing this in the landfills or treating it and releasing it in the environment, human waste can be exploited in several ways.

And as much as dealing with human waste may exposes one to diseases and unpleasant smell, efforts can be made to ensure the process is human-friendly. Besides, it cannot be as bad as some of the harmful chemical products produced by leading chemical producing companies. In other words, the process of handling the human waste can be made human-friendly and used for the betterment of the environment as outlined in this article.


1. Biogas

Methane gas which is produced by human waste can be tapped and used to produce biogas. Biogas could be used to generate electricity, cook food, and heat water for domestic or industrial use. This is through a process that involves collection of methane in an enclosed container free from oxygen. High temperatures are favorable in the decomposition of organic matter. Biogas, when burnt in the presence of oxygen, it reacts to produce energy.

Use of biogas as a renewable source is of great advantage in numerous ways as it does not pollute the environment and reduces deforestation aimed at producing energy. Biogas contributes to environmental protection by capturing methane that would have been released into the air. If methane would be released into the atmosphere, it would lead to damage if the ozone layer.

2. Fertilizer

Human waste can be utilized as a fertilizer to increase the production of food. The waste is however recommended to be treated at least once before its application on the farm. Treatment is applied to the collection of feces, urine and water from households that is digested by bacteria to reduce the number of pathogens and make the sludge less biologically active hence stinks less.

The use of sludge in agriculture threatens residents around the farm with odor and might pose health problems for those working on the farm. Urine can irrigate fields in the case where water is scarce. Where urine is involved in irrigation, there has to be keen consideration on hygiene. Even though urine poses a danger to human health, it contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus that are essential minerals to plants. Access to urine for irrigation is cheap bearing in mind its usefulness.

3. Fecal Transplant

Clostridium difficile is an infection of the gut characterized by inflammation, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Overabundance of bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract is the cause of this infection. A remedy to these bacteria is the use of feces from a healthy person and delivering it to the gut of the patient. Delivery of feces can be done in several ways such as using a tube through the patient’s anus and rectum or shooting of frozen fecal matter through one’s nose.

Fecal transplant is preferred because invasive surgery involves chopping, removing, or diverting of organs to get rid of bad bacteria. Moreover, fecal transplant is quick, inexpensive, and more effective than antibiotic administration. Of importance is that through this procedure there is reduced antibiotic resistance which is the ability of microbes to resist medication that previously treated them. However useful the procedure is, careful selection of the donor is important to avoid passing of bacterial and parasitic infections.

4. Hydrogen Fuel

Hydrogen fuel can be deduced from human waste through the same process as the one of passing current through water. It proves to be more efficient with less energy required in the process. Water is distilled from human waste solids then the waste is left in air-sealed tanks for microbial action to take place. This results in the formation of methane and carbon dioxide.

Methane formed in this process is cheaper as compared to relying on natural gas. Methane and carbon go through a tri-generation process that produces hydrogen fuel, heat, and electricity. With the abundance of human waste, consistent supply of hydrogen fuel can be achieved. Hydrogen fuel can be utilized in running of rockets and production of electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

5. Brick-making

Who knew that human waste could be used in the making of bricks? Incinerated sewage sludge ash is combined with vegetable oil in the making of bricks. These bricks are carbon-negative as oil used is derived from plants, which have sucked carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Also, in utilization of such bricks in construction, one protects the environment considering that traditional bricks are made using processes that emit carbon dioxide. Human waste that traditionally would be sent to a landfill is utilized to build structures of many kinds without a scent and it is pocket-friendly.

The bricks are lighter and stronger which means wide usage of such bricks would revolutionize the construction industry not mentioning improvements could be made to them to make them better over time. Making of these bricks could serve as a source of revenue for many.

6. Fuel

In developing countries, the majority of the households cook using biomass. Charcoal being the major source of energy, leads to the degradation of forests. A great solution is the use of human poop heated in the sun as fuel. This alternative fuel burns for two times longer compared to charcoal and releases lesser carbon monoxide. Packaged as briquettes, one ton of these briquettes saves around 88 trees and proves to be a cheaper source of energy.

The process of making this fuel begins with treatment of fecal waste by heating it in a waiting container so as to remove any harmful pathogens. The waste is heated by the sun to temperatures of around 60o C for three hours. Further improvements in technology would help mean that the lowest possible temperature and time can be used to sanitize waste. Upon cooling, hard and solid briquettes are formed as a result of the high fiber content present in feces.

7. Source of Metals

Human feces can be a good source of gold, vanadium, silver, and copper which carry numerous advantages. Gold present in human waste is significant to the extent if it was found in rock during exploration, it could be worth mining. It is currently estimated that 13 million dollars worth of metals can be extracted from one million Americans.

To recover the metals from the human waste, leachates could be used. Leachates are however responsible for damaging of ecosystems when they leak into the environment. Careful use of leachates in a controlled setting therefore proves vital. In our bodies, the metals play an important role in maintaining our joints and transmitting electrical signals.

The extraction of metals from fecal waste prevents the release of toxic substances therefore, protecting the environment. As an example, Japan has recorded a higher gold yield compared to Hishikari gold mine through sewage mining carried out in a sewage treatment facility.

8. Janicki Omni Processor

The Janicki Omni Processor combines solid fuel combustion, steam power generation, and water treatment in the recycling of human waste to produce energy and clean drinking water. Therefore, the process can be used to sustain millions in the world who lack access to clean water. The process begins with human waste being fed into a dryer to remove moisture thereby reducing it to dry fly ash.

Heat generated in this process is used to heat water in boiler pipes to form steam, which runs a generator to produce electricity. This electricity is enough to power the whole processor and surplus can be sold. Steam that leaves the dryer goes through a series of filters before condensation and distillation to produce clean water. The Omni Processor doesn’t let out foul smell and meets current emission standards.

9. Cosmic Radiation Shield

Life in mars is expected to pose a great risk to the health of those who will visit it since there is exposure to radiation from cosmic rays. The extent of the effects posed to human beings on exposure to galactic cosmic rays is not clearly known but it is known to increase the risk of cancer.

To protect humans, human waste together with water and food can be put in bags and used as a shield against radiation. This will be lined on the space shuttle used in interplanetary travels. From the earth the bags will initially be filled with drinking water then on reaching Mars, upon depletion of the water, they will be replace by bags with human waste.

10. Source of water

Due to the potential of producing water that is not potable from human waste, electrolysis of this water can be used to produce oxygen and hydrogen. This method of producing oxygen is used as a backup oxygen system for astronauts on long missions. Arguably, this method of extracting non-drinkable water can be utilized further to come up with water that is safe to drink by treating it.

Human waste in production of renewable energy is a milestone. Moreover, it serves as a major contribution to the environment. Through recycling of poop that would have ended up in a landfill and polluted the environment, benefits such as biogas, fertilizer, fecal transplant, hydrogen fuel, building bricks, metals and drinking water can be obtained. Therefore, human waste proves to be cheap and an environmentally-friendly alternative. No matter how unpleasant human waste is thought to be, it has great potential in changing the world.

Image credit: pexels


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

How Open Defecation Affects Human Health and Environment and its Solutions

Open defecation is the empting of bowels in the open without the use of properly designed structures built for handling of human waste such as toilets. Open defecation is particularly associated with rural and poverty stricken regions of the world, especially Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Open defecation statistics from around the world have shown a statistical relationship between the regions that have the highest percentage of those that do not use toilets or other human waste facilities and low education or poverty. The World Bank Statistics suggest that regions with high rates of open defecation experiences tremendous problem in terms of sanitation and proper waste management.


According to Wikipedia,

Open defecation is the human practice of defecating outside—in the open. In lieu of toilets, people use fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water or other open space. The practice is common where sanitation infrastructure is not available. About 892 million people, or 12 percent of the global population, practice open defecation.

Reasons for Open Defecation

The reasons that have been given for people who don’t use toilets have either been poverty that makes it a challenge to build latrines or lack of government support in providing such facilities. In cases where the toilets are available but people still end up preferring opened defecation, the reasons can extend to cultural issues related with sharing toilets among family members.

An example is a case where it is forbidden for a man to share the same toilet with his daughter in law. In some other cases, people end up preferring open air defecation due to the freedom it gives them as opposed to using a small dark structure or the displeasure in using toilets that are filthy or not clean.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India accounts for 59 per cent of the 1.1 billion people in the world who practice open defecation leading to some serious negative effects on both their own health and the environment. Let’s look at the how open defecation affects human health and the environment

Effects on Human Health

1. Water borne diseases

Diarrhoea and other problems associated with the ingesting and exposure to human waste affect children under the age of 5 years the most since they are very susceptible to diseases. This exposure is because most of open defecation happens next to water ways and rivers. In urban areas, this can include the drainage systems that are usually meant to traffic rain water away from urban areas into natural water ways.

Such areas are often preferred because open defecators have a belief that the water washes away their waste. What they seem to forget is that most of such areas are not properly empowered to treat the water to remove human waste and the microbes that move with it. Such a practice is contrary to proper sewage channels that treats waste black water and channel it into water systems free of any disease causing germs afterwards.

Therefore, the result of open defecation near water ways is that it is carried into the water system minus treatment. As a consequence, the contaminated water ends up in the main water source. When people in these regions use the water as it for drinking and cooking (since the water is not boiled most of the time because of poverty and lack of education) it results in water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and trachoma.

2. Vector borne diseases

Apart from water borne diseases, when the human waste collects into heaps, it attracts flies and other insects. These flies then travel around the surrounding areas, carrying defecate matter and disease causing microbes, where they then land on food and drink that people go ahead and ingest unknowingly. In such cases, the flies act as direct transmitters of diseases such as cholera.

3. Compounding the problem of disease exposure

The saddest fact about disease transmission caused by open defecation is the cyclic nature of problems that then begin to manifest. The most common diseases caused by this unsanitary act are increased cases of diarrhoea, regular stomach upsets and poor overall health. With diarrhoea, for instance, it means that people cannot make their way to distant places due to the urgency of their calls of nature, so they pass waste close to where they have their bowel attacks.

It simply ends up creating more of the same problems that started the disease in the first place and in turn, leads to more people catching diseases and less people using the facilities. The result of this is more sick people and more opportunities for the disease to spread.

4. Malnutrition in children

Malnutrition in children is another health problem associated with open defecation. Once a child is a victim of one of the diseases passed on due to the lack of proper sanitation and hygiene, they begin to lose a lot of fluids and lack of appetite for food. As a result, it gives rise to many cases of malnutrition in children.

Also, the situation is worsened by intestinal worm attacks passed through the human refuse. Altogether, these problems lead to stunted growth and weakened immune system that makes the child more susceptible to other diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Effects on the Environment

1. Contamination via microbes

The environment also suffers as a result of open defecation because it introduces toxins and bacteria into the ecosystem in amounts that it cannot handle or break down at a time. This leads to build up of filth. Also, the load of microbes can become so great that in the end, they end up in aquatic systems thereby causing harm to aquatic life.

At the same time, it can contribute to eutrophication or the formation of algal blooms that form disgusting scum on the surface of the water ways which disturb aquatic life underneath the water by preventing oxygen and light diffusion into the water.

2. Visual and olfactory pollution

Heaps of human or just the sight of it cause eyesore and nauseate anyone who is close. The stink emanating from the refuse is also highly unappealing and pollutes the surrounding air. Such places also attract large swarms that make the area completely unattractive for the eye.

For all those unfortunate to see the regions affected, it creates a sorry sight and reduces the dignity of all those living in the squalor of those regions. The smells augment the problem by disgusting those who live within the affected regions making life awful.

Solutions of Open Defecation

To solve this issue, it takes the action of individuals and even the intervention of the government to address the cultural, economic and social challenges in tandem.

1. Provision of toilets

First, there is a need to ensure that there are enough toilets. Since these regions are usually very poor, it will take the efforts of the government as well as the good will of local organisations such as CBOs and NGOs to help fix the problem. Construction of pit latrines and other toilet options such as compost toilets is necessary to help deal with the problem of lacking sewer systems. Governments should also try to establish incentives for people to build their own toilets by providing subsidies and putting up public toilets in strategic locations. 

2. Corrective civil education

Another platform that needs to be addressed is the negative cultural association that people have with toilets. The people should be informed and given civic education to enable them break away from their cultural beliefs on issues such as the fact that toilets are not supposed to be shared.

In other words, cultural norms and beliefs must be changed over time through education and awareness creation. With time, people can become informed and drop the beliefs or at least adjust and make concessions about the ones that are most destructive.

3. Incentivise public hygiene participation

By creating government programs that encourage sanitation and personal hygiene, individuals must be involved and forced to take up the responsibility of enhancing their hygiene as well as overall health.

Through such programs, people can get to learn the importance of their environments and work towards ensuring that they do not harm themselves by partaking in open defecation. It eventually reduces healthcare burdens on the government and lessens the number of those who practice open defecation as it will be seen as a terrible activity.

Image credit: flickr


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)