October 2012 Newsletter of Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH)
Pee, Poo & You

Global Sanitation Visionary Visits Portland

by Carol McCreary

We were honored to host the engaging and inspiring Jack Sim, Founder of the World Toilet Organization in Portland from June 2 to 5. The visit of Mr. Toilet followed a Reinventing the Toilet event in Seattle, in which PHLUSH's Abby Brown and Poonam Sharma also participated. Sim brought global sanitation to center stage in meetings with senior officials and local journalists. At an address at Mercy Corps, the celebrity toilet activist was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) who is well known for his legislation in support of international water and sanitation in the United States Congress. “When we are children, our parents tell us not to talk about [poo]” said Sim. “This is a really serious problem. What you don’t talk about, you can’t improve.” Drawing on his usual blend of humor and surprise, he outlined the imperative of bringing toilets to 40% of the world's people who do not have them. He highlighted the universal need for privacy, dignity, cleanliness, and safety and made the case for a business approach to toilet provision with the 2-billion-strong bottom of the pyramid market.

Photo by Charles Maclean of Philanthropy Now

Prior to his arrival, Sim requested a packed schedule with little down time. Point person Abby Brown mobilized other PHLUSH volunteers to arrange more than two dozen interviews, speaking engagements, and visits that highlighted innovative toilet technologies. At a Portland State University laboratory, Professor Radu Popa and Professor Terry Green demonstrated the potential of black soldier fly larvae in commercial waste management and recycling. From there, Sim and PHLUSH volunteers traveled to Scott Olsen's New Earth Farm to see black soldier fly larvae and several years of Bokashi used at a commercial scale cycling nutrients from food waste. At the Oregon Health Sciences University's Global Health Center, Dr. Jay Kravitz hosted a gathering in honor of our Singaporean guest. An eager supporter of the Portland Loo, Sim met with City Commissioner Amanda Fritz and project engineers before setting out on a tour of the city's now iconic street toilets. The fun-loving Sim was also treated to some of the best entertainment the Pacific Northwest has to offer. At the Starlight Parade he was a guest of the Royal Rosarians, civic leaders who have organized the city's annual Rose Festival for more than a century. The visit of the WTO chief was possible thanks to community sponsors: Green Flush Technologies, MDML, Philanthropy Now, Steel Bridge, The Rippey Family, and Trillium Hollow Co-Housing.

Next Living Cities: Global, Urban Ecological Sanitation

by Jeff Holiman

The future of global urban ecological sanitation (ecosan) requires architecture to adopt more functionality. There is function in structure just as in living systems. Urban ecosan will require greater strategic placement of living plants and DNA. For example, think of a wall or a roof. A wall or roof is usually made of blocks or bricks, wood, concrete, insulation and drywall, shingles and goo, and paint to make it look pretty. Now think of organelles or organ systems. Such organ systems include endoplasmic reticulum, golgi apparatus, lysosomes, mitochondria, nucleus, connexons, histones, nerves, muscles, bones, vessels, livers, kidneys, brains, and new ones forming as we speak. Take the idea of the wall or roof and combine it with the idea of organelles or organ systems. This new wall or roof would have membrane layers - some permeable, some semi-permeable, some not permeable, some flat, some folded, or round. 

Photo by M. Rehemtulla via Wikimedia Commons

Imagine. Walls or roofs have fruit, nuts, and leaves growing on the outside. Trunks and branches add form, and rainwater and greywater is transformed as it becomes potable. Roofs and windows are portals with apertures able to control electromagnetic streams. Basements of the next Living City contain bio-digesters, worm bins, black soldier fly nurseries, fish tanks, rain tanks and biofilters, microbial fuel cells, and food stores. Kitchens and bathrooms are on upper floors so gravity assists movement of urine, feces, and organic wastes along a pathway of transformation to a substrate that will become a nutrient for a nearby food system. Global urban ecosan will require a different level of appreciation for natural systems - a reality where there is no alternative to on-site treatment, no concept of waste, only organic and natural processes that generate clean air, clean food, clean water, clothing and shelter, all powered by our closest star. Visualize a city where wilderness is everywhere.

Recode Hosts Ecological Sanitation Workshops in Oregon

by Molly Danielsson

Our enthusiasm for ecological sanitation has led us to volunteer with another awesome Portland project called Recode Oregon. Recode is a grassroots group working to legalize sustainability through connecting citizens directly with regulators to transform codes. Thanks to funding from the Bullitt Foundation, we conducted interviews with experts in conventional and biological waste treatment from Sweden to California to create educational materials (like this visual of the regulations surrounding waste treatment) about ecological sanitation. Recode is currently touring the state from Pendleton to Coos Bay to talk about cost effective management options so that excrement doesn't transport nutrients, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products to our water sources. The goal of the tour is to get the conversation going with regulators and communities about dealing with existing pollution from nitrogen and phosphorous and also growing problems with new pollution like pharmaceuticals and personal care products. 

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)’s Onsite Rules that govern systems like septic tanks and sand filters are currently undergoing a review process that will be open for public comment October 1st to 18th. We are in an interesting situation in Oregon where urine diverting and composting toilets are permitted under the Plumbing Program of the Building Codes Division, but not the DEQ’s Onsite Wastewater Management Program, even though these systems treat waste on site. If a household needs to reduce nitrogen in wastewater, they can choose from a list of ‘nitrogen reducing systems’ provided by the Onsite Department. The average cost of these systems is $20,000, and they must meet NSF 40 test which does not test for nitrogen removal.
Composting toilets and urine diverting toilets cost from $1,000 to $6,000, and they reduce nitrogen in a household wastewater up to 80% by not mixing excrement and urine with other household water. Our proposal to DEQ is to add composting toilets and urine diverting toilets to the ‘nitrogen reducing systems’ list to allow home owners more affordable choices to safely manage their waste. We encourage people to attend the public comment in Portland on October 18th. We will include in the proposal that all systems should be tested to verify treatment and that any information about maintenance is shared with all homeowners. 
After three years of collaboration on various projects, Molly Danielsson and Mathew Lippincott have joined forces again under the new name MDML to focus on providing simple, concise instructions and documentation for complex projects. Check out their new website


Recode Ecological Sanitation Workshops for Oregon

Molly Danielsson and Mathew Lippincott, owners of MDML and frequent volunteers with PHLUSH and Recode  Oregon, are currently touring Oregon talking to communities and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials about ecological sanitation opportunities and obstacles. Citizen activists are lending their expertise to this timely discussion of how to protect Oregon’s water and soils given our current infrastructure. The next workshops will be held:
Corvallis on Tuesday, October 8th, 7-9pm, 645 NW Monroe Ave  

Eugene on Wednesday, October 9th, 7-9pm, 150 Shelton-McMurphey Blvd

Newsletters and Online Resources on Global Ecological Sanitation

There is a wealth of information on the Internet about ecological sanitation. We polled PHLUSH volunteers to learn their favorite newsletters and online resources. Here they are:
E Source Sanitation News
Sanitation Updates
SSWM Toolbox
SuSanA Forum
Sustainable Sanitation Alliance News Mail      
WASH Advocates Newsletter
WSP  Newsletters

Upcoming PHLUSH Events

In the final quarter of 2012, we will be supporting two important global campaigns with local and online advocacy:

October 15, 20012 - Global Handwashing Day

Celebrated worldwide, GHD is an opportunity for individuals and organizations to engage on a key topic of hygiene and public health. Handwashing is part of toilet design but many people prefer this discussion to that of toilets. PHLUSH is celebrating GHD online. Please make use of the resources that we've gathered for you. They include public health articles, teaching aids, social media tools, posters, and stickers from international, national and local sources.
November 19, 2012 - World Toilet Day

Last year, we introduced the Twin Bucket Emergency Toilet for World Toilet Day. Since then we've trained hundreds of people in its use. This year, we'll be promoting Portland's official emergency sanitation solutions to the earthquake-vulnerable cities of Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver BC. If you'd like to join us in contacting city officials, emergency responders, and citizen activists please get in touch at

Guest Blog Posts

The PHLUSH blog is embedded in the homepage of our website. We welcome your comments on recent posts and submission of new posts by guest writers. Posts should focus on sanitation issues and will be reviewed prior to publication. Interested in writing something? Email us at to let us know.

PHLUSH Needs You

We invite your participation and look forward to helping you find the volunteer gig that is right for you. We need researchers, bloggers, conference presenters, outreach specialists, graphic designers, scientists, engineers, managers of communication projects, international networkers, tweeters, Facebook folks, and just people to remind people that we all pee and poop. We meet second Thursdays at 5:30 pm at Floyd’s Coffee, 118 NW Couch St in Portland, Oregon. Join our meetings in-person or via Google+. Follow us @PortlandPHLUSH on Twitter and join the lively PHLUSH group on Facebook.

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