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Op-ed: Toilet 2.0

Op-ed: Toilet 2.0

by Elliot Roth

originally posted at: https://medium.com/@elliotroth

Let’s build Toilet 2.0, and reinvent the way we poop.

We’re gonna talk about poop today. It’s a really important topic that doesn’t get much lip service, because people are uncomfortable discussing butt related topics. But the recycling of waste has to be one of the most important technologies of the modern era.

Over the past millennia, not much has changed about our pooping habits. We still shit in a hole. Granted, here our waste flows away from us and gets processed by waste treatment facilities, but in the third world there is no access to the civil engineering miracle that is plumbing. Poop goes in a hole and stays there. That is why when porta potties were developed, it was such a phenomenal innovation. No longer did you have to pinch a loaf in a ditch. The chemicals in these portable dignity savers broke down your brown trouser snake and were then pumped out for waste processing elsewhere. But what if you can’t move around waste that easy? What if you’re stuck with your poop and you have to do something about it?

The human digestive tract is a marvel of evolution. It is a completely enclosed tube from mouth to anus that reabsorbs consumed nutrients, water, and excretes dead cells, bile, bacteria and more. Human fecal matter in the developed world is one of the most nutrient-rich fertilizers, due to our protein-rich diets. However, the way we currently deal with our poop, is by shuttling it off to somewhere else.

I propose an artificial digestive tract, that reclaims nutrients from fecal matter and allows for the reuse of the disposed waste matter. This system would have all the features of a toilet without the need to install massively complex and cumbersome plumbing through expensive, time-consuming civil engineering projects.

This toilet wouldn’t have to use water, because it will comprise of the mechanical equivalents of a “chewing” mouth to break up the waste, an esophagus, a stomach, a small and large intestine and means of storing the chemicals separately from the waste matter. The device would tap into natural/biological reclamation and recycling methods, to parcel out the chemicals of human waste and turn our poop into useful products. It would also have zero water usage, and never get clogged because it would push waste through a process of smooth muscle peristalsis.

Now, before you start talking about human centipedes and being grossed out by pooping in a mouth, understand that this system will be artificial. It will be an engineered biological system, simply slightly different from the one we're used to. Instead of pooping in a hole and pretending that your waste disappears, let’s treat waste at the source. Let’s reclaim our waste chemicals and repurpose them for use in all kinds of ways. Let’s build Toilet 2.0, and reinvent the way we poop.

Keratin 3D bioprinting

Keratin 3D bioprinting

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