Irresistible Community Builders, LLC presents: When it Comes to Breakthroughs in Sanitation, What’s Old is New & Sexy Again

By Tom Braford

One of the first of eight books written by Sim Van der Ryn, who is known as the ‘Intrepid Pioneer of the Eco Frontier’, was titled “The Toilet Papers.” He advocated a less wasteful, less costly, distributed treatment approach to sanitation, and he is suggesting that now in advising our Arizmendi Drawdown Ecovillage project.

Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, while speaking at the Beijing Reinvented Toilet Exposition last month, said that it’s no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems, it’s a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale.

This will be the most significant advance in sanitation in nearly 200 years, he said. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent more than $200 million to stimulate research in the field over the last seven years.

This approach could save billions in the St Louis region, where raw sewage is still flushed into the Mississippi with every major storm. The EPA has ordered us to do something about it, and we are planning to use costly, existing technology. We could use this opportunity to roll out what’s new again, a distributed treatment approach.

At Arizmendi over 40 years after he wrote the book, we are ready to listen to Sim, the great-grandfather of the sustainability movement, former California state architect, primary author of both the California and the Netherlands sustainability plans to fulfill on the Paris Climate Accord. Now Bill Gates is piling on. How much more of an endorsement do we need to finally do the right thing?

At Arizmendi Ecovillage, the reconstituted Ecological Design Collaborative, under Sim’s tutelage, is looking at an integral, dual ceramic bowl, vacuum flush system. It ties in vacuum evacuated garbage disposals, hooked up to a methane digester and on-site closed-loop, living machine treatment. With no odor, it recaptures nutrients, energy and water for safe and sanitary reuse at a fraction of the cost of other systems. This will model a scalable way to save our region billions of dollars and cause better outcomes for people on the planet right now.

Contact: braford@sbcglobal.net