“Eco-San” – Ecological Sanitation


May 30, 2013 by John Crapper

Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...

Clean water – 1% of the total!

Only 1% of global water is drinkable, therefore, it is a precious resource.  Water used in flush toilets is often of drinking quality. .  Each of us pays good money to have purified water pour into our toilets.  We then do our business and flush it into the sewer system.  We also pay hard-earned money to carry our excrement away to a sewage treatment plant.  Along the way it is mixed in with all kinds of foreign substances including chemicals, solvents and medical waste.  At our sewage treatment plants varying energy intensive expensive processes are utilized to separate out the contamination from the water to return it to as pure a state as possible to be recycled.

Section of a wastewater treatment plant.

Section of a sewage treatment plant – energy intensive, complicated to build and costly to run and maintain.

The mix of domestic and industrial effluent in this water cannot be treated properly because heavy metals and other pollutants make this water unsuitable for reuse.  It makes water treatment difficult.  All wastewater treatment plants use some natural/biological processes, but nature does not normally have this wastewater, so there are no microbes that can deal with this mix. In order to treat waste, treatment plants have to do this in stages. Each stage treats a different component of the mix by creating the right environment for microbes to do their work (aerobic, anaerobic, anoxic and the right pH). This is costly and requires energy.  The remaining sludge’s value, as a result of human excrement being mixed with other sources of contamination, is diminished.  Because of the complexity of the treatment process, treatment plants tend to be large. This requires costly infrastructure to build and maintain.  It is truly an ass-backward system and ass-backward thinking.  There is a better way – an ass-forward way!

Looking at our excrement not as waste that needs to be treated, but as a resource needing to be put to full use, is the key to an ass-forward approach to the whole issue of sanitation.


Ecological sanitation (Ecosan) offers a new philosophy of dealing with what is presently regarded as waste and wastewater. Ecosan systems enable the recovery of nutrients from human feces and urine for the benefit of agriculture, thus helping to preserve soil fertility, assure food security for future generations, minimize water pollution and recover bio-energy. They ensure that water is used economically and is recycled in a safe way for purposes such as irrigation or groundwater recharge.

The main objectives of ecological sanitation are:

    * To reduce the health risks related to sanitation, contaminated water and waste

    * To prevent the pollution of surface and ground water

    * To prevent the degradation of soil fertility

    * To optimize the management of nutrients and water resources

The following two videos take just about 19 minutes to watch.  I ask you to take that time to familiarize yourself with the Ecological Sanitation process . 


Ecological Sanitation systems are currently being implemented  overseas in developing countries and water-shortage areas.  Implementation of ecological sanitation systems and principles in the United States are mainly found on a limited basis in rural areas.

People who work in sanitation sometimes have visions.  Eco-san people see a future where instead of controlling pollution after it happens, we prevent it in the first place by some kind of source separation.  Water separated from excreta; urine separated from feces.  The discarded products of the human body given treatment appropriate to one name (shit, meaning to separate), not another (waste, from the Latin vastus meaning unoccupied or uncultivated).  A cleaner new world where people put out their trash cans full of fecal compost to be collected on a Monday, like they do with garbage.

The Church of the Holy Shitters hopes and prays for the expeditious arrival of this vision!  The technology presently exists to implement this transition. It is the lack of attention, drive and motivation that are the problems.  This Church is dedicated to transforming our ass-backward thought processes with regard to sanitation and ushering in a new ass-forward eco-san way of dealing with our own shit.

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Our climate is changing. I'm humorously serious about addressing it. I'm convinced my ego is the main culprit. My religion, Holy Shitters, demands I humble myself and celebrate the fact my shit stinks.
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