Waste Not Want Not

I recently came across a very interesting project being undertaken by the Centre for Global Engineering (CGEN) at University of Toronto. It’s called Reinvent the Toilet Project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation has been giving grants for this project for the past three years now, to increasing number of universities and organizations.

The Reinvent the Toilet Challenge aims to create a toilet that:
Removes germs from human waste and recovers valuable resources such as energy, clean water, and nutrients.
Operates “off the grid” without connections to water, sewer, or electrical lines.
Costs less than US$.05 cents per user per day.
Promotes sustainable and financially profitable sanitation services and businesses that operate in poor, urban settings.
• Is a truly aspirational next-generation product that everyone will want to use—in developed as well as developing nations.” (GatesFoundation.org)

Rethinking waste has been a topic of great interest to me. Waste is a common by-product of every living thing, humans especially. The current thinking with our waste in the Western world is, ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’. We flush it down the toilet, we tie up the garbage bags, and let someone else deal with it.

Waste is a complicated issue, and it is treated differently in different parts of the world. In some parts of the world, it is not adequately treated due to lack of sufficient services and resources.  The ‘Waste Not Want Not’ philosophy embedded in the challenge proposed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one worth commendation for encouraging a change in the way we think about toilets, and the way we view waste.

For the purpose of this blog, due to my interest in waste – that of the toilet, the kitchen, and the grocery stores, to name a few – I hope to delve deeper into the topic.


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