Category Archives: history

A Rough History of Sanitation in the West

Check out our guest post on PHLUSH’s blog.  We jammed packed it full of citations and resources for those getting ready for the Toilet Hackathon happening this weekend.

Our Sewer Catastrophe Companion was featured several months back on the excellent Discard Studies blog. Max Liboiron does excellent writing on waste, reminding people what it’s really about:

Publication of the Year: Shit: A Survival Guide

Our SHIT lab at PNCA has spent the last two months putting together a publication on emergency sanitation. Right as I was headed out the door to go to our final critique I got an email from Carol McCreary of PHLUSH about a survival guide on shit put out by COLORS (yes as in United [...]

Eight Rungs on a Ladder of Citizen Participation

This is a chart from page 42 of Colin Ward’s book “Streetwork: the Exploding School” first published in 1973. the original reference is to Sherry Arnstein’s “A Ladder of Citizen Participation in the USA”, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, July 1969. Streetwork is a great book on environmental education. Nils Norman runs a [...]

Compost-heated Greenhouse c.1750

Ním Wunnan points us towards the Lost Gardens of Heligan, where they have restored to operation a “pineapple pit,” a compost-heated greenhouse in fashion in the mid-18th century for growing pineapples in Britain.  It is, as far as is known, the world’s only operational pineapple pit.

Flush with Inequality: Sanitation in South Africa

Jonathan Lukens sent us this Design Observer article by Barbara Penner on sanitation in South Africa.  It is worth the long read, carefully pointing out the class and colonial assumptions behind by treating dry toilets as engineering solutions for the poor rather than design problems for everyone.  It really gets to the issues of market-driven [...]

Pail Collection and Composting in Skaneateles!

This is the longest-running pail collection system I’ve seen in the Western World.  Run from 1908-1998 around summer cottages in upstate New York, 5-gallon buckets were picked up from public outhouses and private summer cottages.  Sewage was banned to protect the watershed. PDF article here. Continuous interaction with cottage owners has been essential to the [...]

Now you can Buy

Our posters are now up on, along with a buy button.

Links on the history and future of toilets

History Kris De Decker is one of my favorite technology writers, and up on Low Tech Magazine he has a great new article on re-use of human excrement, resource crises, and a 19th century Dutch and French vacuum sewers I’d never known about.  Vacuum sewers are making a comeback. Future Both EcoSanRes and SuSanA (Sustainable [...]

The Other WTO

The World Toilet Organization. Check out this amazingly comprehensive 158 page compendium (PDF link) of toilets, sanitation, and sewage technologies.

Emergency Sanitation Workshop This Saturday

We'll be doing a 45 minute workshop on Saturday June 2nd @ 2pm at King Elementary School as part of Resilience
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