Floating Toilets That Clean Themselves Grow On A Lake

Imagine you live on a floating lake house. Open air. Chirping crickets. Clear, starry nights. Everything seems great until you need to use the bathroom.

The natural instinct might be to make a deposit in the water. But that wouldn’t be safe. Microbes in your feces would contaminate the water and could cause outbreaks of deadly diseases, like cholera.

A group of engineers in Cambodia wants to solve that problem for the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Over a million people live on or around it. Exposure to wastewater spawns diarrhea outbreaks each year. In Cambodia, diarrheal diseases cause 1 in 5 deaths of children under age 5.

To help clean the lake’s water, engineers at the company Wetlands Work! in Phnom Penh are developing plant-based purifiers, called Handy Pods. The pods are essentially little kayaks filled with plants. They float under the latrine of a river house and decontaminate the water that flows out.

Here’s how it works. When a person uses the latrine, the wastewater flows into an expandable bag, called a digester. A microbial soup of bacteria and fungi inside the digester breaks down the organic sludge into gases, such as carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen.

Continue reading.

Photo: A pod to pick up your poo: The Handy Pod features floating hyacinth plants placed underneath a houseboat’s latrine. The blue tarp offers privacy. (Courtesy Taber Hand)

In India, Dying To Go: Why Access To Toilets Is A Women’s Rights Issue

In May, two young women in rural India left their modest homes in the middle of the night to relieve themselves outside. Like millions in India, their homes had no bathrooms. The next morning, their bodies were found hanging from a mango tree. They had been attacked, gang-raped and strung up by their own scarves. Eighteen months after a gang-rape on a Delhi bus, this incident and others since have galvanized nationwide protests to end violence against women and highlighted caste-related discrimination. The tragic story also underscores the need to talk about another taboo topic: open defecation.

Access to clean, safe and private toilets is a women’s issue. An estimated 2.5 billion people globally lack access to proper sanitation, with the largest number living in India. Women are disproportionately affected by lack of adequate sanitation. Many poor women living in rural villages or urban slums wait until nightfall, reducing their food and drink intake so as to minimize the need for elimination. Girls often do not attend school if there are no private toilets, and this is especially true after the onset of menstruation. Approximately 2,200 children die every day as a result of diarrheal diseases linked to poor sanitation and hygiene, which impacts women as mothers and caregivers. Finally, waiting until nighttime to urinate or defecate is not only dehumanizing, it makes women vulnerable to sexual assault, as vividly illustrated by the appalling events in India.

(More from Cognoscenti: Thinking that Matters-90.9 WBUR)

Children wear cat masks as they play near the rubble of destroyed homes in the neighborhood of Zeitoun in Gaza City in Occupied Palestinian Territory. The masks were distributed to children by the UNICEF-supported Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, a community-based local NGO.

UNICEF is taking the lead role in coordinating humanitarian and recovery assistance in the sectors of child protection, education (together with the international NGO Save the Children), psychosocial support and mental health (with the World Health Organization), as well as water, sanitation and hygiene.

© UNICEF/Iyad El Baba

chelseaobviously asked:

How do you sanitize your used products?

Hopefully this explanation is easy to follow and hopefully I don’t miss anything!

Things you may need depending on what you’re sanitizing:

  1. spritz bottle
  2. cotton balls
  3. 70% rubbing alcohol or higher (the higher the better so it dries faster)
  4. clean paper towels
  5. tissues
  6. cup or jar (something to pour alcohol in and dip products into)
  7. pencil sharpener
  8. baby shampoo

Start by filling your spritz bottle with alcohol, then fill a cup with alcohol (if you have pencils/lipsticks), and spray your sharpener with alcohol (if you have pencils).

  • Pressed powders- Gently wipe the top layer of your pressed powder with a tissue. Spritz with alcohol, the product (don’t saturate too much, one spritz should do) and the packaging..every surface inside and out.Alternatively, you can wipe down the packaging with a cotton ball saturated with alcohol (same goes for packaging on everything). Set it on your paper towels and let dry.
  • Lipstick- Wipe the tip with a tissue. Give the whole lipstick part of the product a quick dip in your cup of alcohol, spritz the packaging with alcohol, or use your saturated cotton balls. ..every surface, don’t forget the inside of the cap. Set it on your paper towels and let dry. 
  • Pencils- Sharpen your pencil, dip the tip in the alcohol, spray packaging or use a saturated cotton ball, let dry on paper towels.
  • Creams/Gels- Spray the product with alcohol, but don’t saturate it too much because that could ruin the product. Spritz the packaging or use your saturated cotton ball, let dry on paper towels. Note: If your product has a lot of divots and dips from brushes then it may not get completely sanitized. 
  • Foundations with pumps- Spritz every surface with alcohol or use a saturated cotton ball, paying special attention to the pump. Let dry.
  • Brushes- Wash with baby shampoo, spritz with alcohol. Let dry on their side.

The following can’t be sanitized: Loose powders, foundations without pumps, and products with wand applicators (mascara, liquid liners, some lip glosses, concealers), squeezy tubes like lip glosses. 

Protip: To keep products that can’t be sanitized germ-free you can use disposable applicators and never go from your face to your product with a used applicator. Using a mixing palette is helpful also, that way you can put your product on there and double dip if you need to!

To Clean Drinking Water, All You Need Is A Stick

Removing all the dangerous bacteria from drinking water would have enormous health benefits for people around the world.

The technologies exist for doing that, but there’s a problem: cost.

Now MIT's Rohit Karnik thinks he’s on to a much less expensive way to clean up water: Use the xylem of a plant.

Now if you remember your high school biology, you’ll know that xylem is the stuff in plants that transports water in the form of sap from the roots to the leaves.

“And the way the water is moved is by evaporation from the leaves,” says Karnik.

It’s somewhat like what happens when you put a straw into a glass of liquid. Evaporation from the leaves has the same effect as sucking on the straw.

Pulling water up to the leaves this way creates a problem for the plant, but also an opportunity for an inventor.

The plant’s problem is something called cavitation, or the growth of air bubbles, which makes it harder for water to reach the leaves. But Karnik says xylem has a way of getting rid of these bubbles.

“The xylem has membranes with pores and other mechanisms by which bubbles are prevented from easily spreading and flowing in the xylem tissue,” he says.

And it turns out these same pores that are so good at filtering out air bubbles are just the right size for filtering out nasty bacteria.

To prove it worked, he created a simple setup in his lab. He peeled the bark off a pine branch and took the sapwood underneath containing the xylem into a tube. He then sent a stream of water containing tiny particles through the tube and showed that the wood filter removed them.

“We also flowed in bacteria and showed we could filter out bacteria using the xylem,” he says. Karnik estimates the xylem removed 99.9 percent of the bacteria.

The results were published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

Continue reading.

Image: Making a xylem water filter is easy: Just peel back the bark and stick inside a tube. (PLOS ONE)

anonymous asked:

In nature where does the poop go? Why are the forests not covered top to bottom in the feces of various animals? (A question inspired by groups of ferel animals that live near-by)(also from yrs of cleaning up my backyard)

But the forest IS covered with feces! You just might not recognize it! 
In the bush (and in your backyard if you are patient enough) fecal matter gets broken down in a few different ways:

1. You call them bottom feeders, I call them recyclers. 
Organisims called Detritivores (e.g. earth worms, beetles, and flies) ingest and digest organic material from other organisms and speed up the process of decomposition. Another group of organisms, Decomposers (e.g. fungi and bacteria) break down organic material using biochemical processes, no internal digestion required. (x)

2. Coprophagy (or why I’m glad I’m not a hindgut fermenter)
Some animals ingest the fecal material of other animals. Now they might do this because they specialize in fecal matter consumption (like our friend the Dung Beetle who is a lovely Detritivore), or perhaps it is in order to gain bacteria required to process plant matter in their environment. (x) Some species, like those in the order Lagomorpha (i.e. hares, rabbits, and pikas) have very short digestive tracts and so they will re-ingest their own fecal material so they can metabolize all of the nutrients within. (x) These are called hindgut fermenters. (x)

3. Don’t drink the water (unless you know it’s treated)
The environmental conditions like the temperature, moisture, and oxygen content of the area will affect the decomposition rate. Hint: This is why it seems like there is dog poo EVERYWHERE after that first big snow melt!
As feces break down they act like every other organic (and inorganic) compounds do, they become a part of the ecosystem they are in. Now this could be through the ways I listed above, or by being integrated into the terrestrial cocktail (if you don’t think poo is in soil please talk to a gardener), or by joining the watershed. That’s right friends, the water is full of poo. 
This is why modern conveniences like water filtration plants are amazing… but something we seem to take for granted. 

Did you know that approximately ONE IN NINE people world wide do not have access to clean water?!? How about 3.4 million people die each year from water sanitation related issues. Of which, the majority of illnesses are caused by fecal matter! (x)

So yes, dear Anon, poop is everywhere. Not always in those neat little scat droppings in the forest, or the cow pies in the field, but it’s in the soil, it’s in the water, it’s even in the air in what is called a fecal mist for up to two hours after you flush the toilet!!! (Who’s gonna put the lid down now?) (x, x
Clearly it isn’t going to kill you… but I would still wash your hands regularly, avoid cross contamination in the kitchen, and don’t go drinking water from a stream or anywhere without the appropriate sanitation / sterilization pills, filters, or other treatment methods

You’ve gotta love a good scat chart.


Can you imagine not having a toilet? Around the world, 1.1 billion people defecate in the open, contaminating their environments and water sources and spreading diseases like diarrhoea, which kills 2,000 children under 5 every day. In the run up to World Toilet Day on November 19, we’ll be sharing images and facts like these.

Pictured, girls walk towards newly constructed toilets in Mhondoro district, Zimbabwe.

© UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi

It’s a game-changing piece of technology, an instrument that brought forth a revolution in sanitation and public health thousands of years ago. Yet most of us in the developed world pay it no mind until the moment it clogs. 

Unbelievably, there are an estimated 2.5 billion people living today who don’t have access to a clean and safe toilet. It’s more than an inconvenience–life without a loo levies huge health and economic fines on people and societies. 

Today is World Toilet Day, which is meant to focus attention on this major issue. This infographic was created by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program. Click here to see the full-size version with more information. Read more below to see journalist Rose George’s TED talk on toilets and sanitation.

Keep reading

Bill Gates Raises A Glass To (And Of) Water Made From Poop

In places where fresh water is hard to come by, how do you come up with clean drinking water?

Easy — get the water from poop.

It’s a scientifically sound idea, and Bill Gates has a video to prove it. In the video, released this week, he stands in front of the Janicki Omniprocessor, a giant new machine that can turn human waste into clean drinking water in minutes. He waits patiently as Peter Janicki — the engineer who invented the contraption — fills his glass with crystal-clear water from the machine.

Without the slightest hesitation, Gates takes a sip. “The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle,” he wrote on his blog. “And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe.”

The Omniprocessor is one of the latest projects funded by the Gates Foundation (which also supports NPR), and the philanthropist wants the rest of the world to back it up as well. The machine’s purpose is to help the 783 million people living without clean water and the nearly 2.5 billion who don’t have adequate sanitation.

“You go into a community and you open the tap. What comes from this is even worse than [the water] you get from the roof when it’s raining,” says Doulaye Kone, senior program officer at the foundation.

Here’s how the Omniprocessor works. Sewer sludge feeds into the machine and is boiled inside a large tube. That separates water vapor from the solid waste, and then the two part ways. Water vapor travels up and through a cleaning system that uses a cyclone and several filters to remove harmful particles. A little condensation takes place and voila — out comes clean drinking water!

Continue reading and watch the video.

Photo: Bill Gates takes a sip of water that came out of the new Janicki Omniprocessor. (Courtesy of the Gates Foundation)


More people have access to mobile phones than to bog-standard sanitation around the world.

The numbers are actually quite close – both are around the 4.5bn mark. But the implications are clear: we value a text, a tweet over one of our most basic sanitary needs: the loo. 

Innovations don’t always need to be shiny and new looking…

Intoducing tippy tap…a hands free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate where there is no running water or where there is limited handwashing facilities. It is operated by a foot lever and thus reduces the chance for bacteria transmission.

Go Tippy Tap!!!

© UNICEF/Zambia/2012/Asindua

Learn more:


Peace Corps Volunteer Builds First Bathroom in Senegal School

Peace Corps Volunteer Karen Chaffraix is working with her community members in Senegal to install the first bathroom facility at a nearby elementary school. The new three-stall facility is complete with running water for hand-washing and will help prevent water contamination and disease through safe and effective waste disposal.

“Continued community participation is essential to the success of the project,” Chaffraix said. “Hopefully those involved will be empowered to undertake future projects and will contribute to improved health and sanitation for all.”