A Short Biography of Human Excrement and Its Value

Back when all humans were nomads, they would do their business and move on. Then when people started to settle down into stable communities, we had to figure out our shit. In the Bible, God told the Hebrews how to treat the promised land. Outhouses became a thing, and many societies recognized the fertilizer value of our waste, either on a household scale or as an industry. Larger cities posed a problem, though, and that's how we ended up with modern sewage systems. While we've created a world where we never have to think much about human feces, seven billion pounds of excreta every day is a problem.

Lina Zeldovich, author of the book The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth and Health, tells how her grandfather would ceremoniously clean out the septic tank once a year and use the sludge as fertilizer for trees, garden soil, and to activate the compost. She also goes through a short history of how people have utilized human waste over millennia and why we should go back to using our gross domestic product more sustainably instead of paying to treat it as a problem. Read The Power of Shit at Aeon. Oh yeah, it contains the proper amount of puns for the subject. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Myotus)


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