Toilets are gross. That nice clean porcelain throne you do your private business on is a staple of modern society. Sanitation is a great achievement of technology. Before there were sewer systems, human waste washed into the streets, plugged up the streams and rivers, and causeed the early death of millions from Cholera, Dysentery, Typhoid fever among others. That particualr problem is by no means solved. Billions of people live without proper sanitation to this day around the world. It’s truly shameful. Things aren’t really that much better in “advanced” countries with toilets and intricate sewer systems and treatment plants. When you flush the toilet, where does it go? Good question.
I’m not going to lay it all out, but suffice it to say, it get’s wasted. Human excrement is considered waste, hazardous waste. Nature is quite good at handling waste. So good, that in fact there isn’t any. The little microbial critters that live in our innards continue the digestion process after the material exits our bodies. Chomping away, breathing, drinking, metabolizing, and excreting their own form of feces which is then gobbled up by yet more organisms. Beautiful really, that whole circle of life jazz. This shit (pun intended) has been going on for billions of years, and it will take the vile substances that come out of us and turn them into safe, nutritious food for other organisms, eventually coming full circle to our mouths.
That is, if we let this all happen. For the majority of humanity’s existence we have been pooping in the woods. The microbes within the feces happily breath fresh air (as fresh as it comes in the middle of a pile of shit) and respire as they metabolize the nutrients, eventually rendering harmless the more dangerous pathogens. Urine was sprinkled liberally across the land as animals tend to do. Being essentially sterile and a valuable source of nitrogen, urine provides fixed nitrogen for plant structures, a necessary component of their physiology. This natural fertilizer is crucial as most plants cannot fix nitrogen from the air.
Modern sanitation gets in the way of all of this by starving the bacteria of oxygen and the carbon amendments found in the woods like leaves, grass, whatever. So instead, by defecating into perfectly good drinking water and flushing it away, the normal metabolism that occurs in the woods is replaced by noxious anaerobic decomposition where dangerous pathogens thrive and seep into groundwater making people sick. You know that nasty sewer smell. That’s why there’s so many fecophobes. We treat feces as something to be despised and disposed of. What comes out of those sewage treatment plants is not clean water, and the sludge they scrape from the bottom of the settling tanks should have been fertilizer to spread on agricultural land, but instead it’s now hazardous waste to be wrapped in a giant diaper and buried in a landfill. It of course is mixed with all manner of toxic substances produced by industry, dumped down drains, and washed off roadways into the sewer.
This is no way to handle our metabolism. That’s what all of this is about. That’s everything that we eat, we shit, we create, and we build. That’s our metabolism. The world is more than the sum of it’s parts. Everything is stupefyingly interconnected so it’s important that as a species we recognize our position in the grand scheme of things and take a more active roll as citizens of Earth. More and more people are waking up from the last century of nutrient poor manufactured food with better diets based on locally sourced whole foods, and there has been the growing realization that our petroleum based chemical environment is affecting the public health. More attention is being paid to resource and energy consumption as well as waste and pollution. Inputs and outputs.
What this all comes down to is a matter of responsibility. Is defecating in clean drinking water and wasting valuable nutrients a responsible action? I think not. There is a better way. Look to nature. It’s an ongoing, 3.8 billion year research and development project and it has a lot of good ideas. Me? I’ll compost my poop and I’ll look towards nature for help. Pooping is not something to be ashamed of. Everybody poops. I’m a proud pooper.