Problems with the Status Quo

January 8, 2011
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The waterborne sanitation systems that the West continues to export to many areas of the world are unsustainable and ultimately dangerous.   It makes no sense to use precious drinking water to transport feces and urine to sewage plants, where it mixes with toxic industrial chemicals.   Treatment is expensive and necessarily incomplete.  Liquid is released into downstream waterways.   Semi solid sludge is spread on agricultural land in North America, a practice outlawed in most European countries. The problems with the status quo are water pollution, reliance on fossil fuels that diminishes air quality, and soil contamination that compromises both future food security and current food safety.

Learn More:

Sustainable Sanitation in Cities: A Framework for Action. Lüthi, C., Panesar, A., Schütze, T., Norström, A., McConville, J., Parkinson, J., Saywell, D., Ingle, R. (2011). Sustainable Sanitation in Cities – A Framework for Action. Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) & International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU), Papiroz Publishing House, The Netherlands. Within an urban development framework, analyzes the situation urban sanitation throughout the world, focussing on current levels of coverage of sanitation facilities, the quality of these facilities and the resultant impacts on health and environmental pollution.  Makes comprehensive proposals for change in policy and practice.

 Closing the Loop: Ecological Sanitation for Food Security This overview illustates how current sanitation practice is putting the world at risk of disease and starvation and how cycling nutrients through ecosan practice can restore health to soils and water .  Steven A. Esrey, Ingvar Andersson, Astrid Hillers, and Ron Sawyer, 2004. 107 pages black and white.

“Recycling animal and human dung is the key to sustainable farming” De Decker, Kris.  A nicely documented an illustrated  historical look at how future food security depends on excreta reuse.

Crapshoot: The Gamble with our Wastes. This bold, hour long 2003 documentary from the Film Board of Canada can be viewed on line for free or downloaded at reasonable cost for public screenings.
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    Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human, or PHLUSH, is an all-volunteer advocacy group based in Portland's Old Town Chinatown. We collaborate with grassroots organizations, environmental activists, planners, architects, code officials and city managers. We receive support from the Old Town Chinatown Community Association and Neighbors West-Northwest. PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

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