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< prev - next > Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment (Printable PDF)
Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment 33
Ecological toilets
Ecological toilets turn feces and urine into soil conditioner and fertilizer. This
improves people’s health and the environment by preventing germs from spreading
and turning harmful human waste into something useful.
Ecological toilets are safer for groundwater than other toilets because they sit
above ground or use shallow pits. They produce fertilizer and they can be used for
many years. These toilets need more maintenance than pit toilets (but not pour-flush
toilets), so it is important that people understand how they work.
Turning waste into fertilizer
Rich, healthy soil needs organic matter
— what is left when plants and
other living things die and
decompose. This natural
process of organic matter
breaking down into soil
is sometimes called
The soil grows crops
Around the world,
farmers compost their
Fer tilizer
feeds the soil
become food
wastes and add them
into the soil. This keeps
the soil full of nutrients
for growing crops. Just
Human waste can be
turned into fertilizer
Food becomes
human waste
as people need nutrients
from food to grow strong
and healthy, plants need
nutrients in soil to grow
strong and bear fruit.
Germs and nutrients
Both urine and feces carry
Ecological sanitation turns waste into a resource.
nutrients that can improve soil.
But feces can also have many germs that cause disease. For this reason, making
fertilizer from feces takes more care than composting animal manure and food scraps.
Feces should never be used raw. But once they are made into fertilizer, it can safely
help to grow food, trees, and other crops without chemical fertilizers.
Urine carries far fewer germs than feces and has more nutrients. This makes it safer
to handle and very valuable as fertilizer. But because it does carry some germs and is
too strong to use directly on plants, it also needs special handling.