Where they can connect to sewer systems, flush toilets are a safe way to dispose of shit. They also waste huge amounts of water: between five and 17 liters at every flush.
Costing a tenth of the overall price of a flush toilet, composting toilets also use no water. When one pit is full, users switch to the other, allowing feces to decompose into harmless compost.
Also known as a “helicopter toilet,” defecating into a plastic bag, tying it shut and throwing it as far as you can is an accepted means of waste disposal in slums worldwide.
A concrete slab over a deep pit will contain human excreta, but does nothing to sanitize it. Emptying a full pit is costly, so some people let the rains do it instead.
The most popular type of toilet is no toilet at all. Four in 10 people around the world practise open defecation, in fields, on railway tracks and by the side of roads.
In an anaerobic digester, one person’s shit can produce 30 liters of biogas a year, fuel for cooking, lighting and showering. To be effective, a digester needs 30 kilograms of feces daily, human or animal.
These are a temporary solution for sanitation. They deodorize and disinfect excrement by immersing it in formaldehyde or bleach. These highly toxic chemicals are often disposed of in pits or sewers, contaminating the water supply.
Some versions have removable seats, but essentially, a bucket is a bucket. Shitting in one requires it be emptied daily and removed to a dump by night-soil collectors.
This highly effective means of sanitizing shit uses no water, creates little smell and turns dangerous excrement into sterile ash. It also requires a lot of energy to run, and the ash it produces has no known uses.
Anaerobic bacteria in the tank break down solids, while partially filtered liquids seep into the earth, relying on plants and the soil’s ecosystem to cope with pathogens before they end up in groundwater.
From the pages of COLORS #82 - Shit.