What if poop—that’s right, poop—could be the key innovation to a healthier life for millions? Across some of India’s poorest communities, this organization has created a sanitation system that turns our waste into a resource, not only providing life-saving facilities, but clean water, education, and employment all with the power of a few toilets!

Could something so simple really have such a profound impact? Well, in a world where every day over 2,000 children pass away from preventable diarrheal diseases due to a lack of access to hygiene facilities, this innovation is a really big deal. 1

This isn’t just about providing a place for people to relieve themselves safely, but enriching whole communities! Sanitation and Health Rights in India (SHRI) has created the perfect example of a positive loop business, for it’s what they do after they have the poo that’s truly impressive. Here’s the story.

Image: woman walking outside of a SHRI bathroom facility

Source: SHRI

Woo, poo!

Poop probably isn’t the hero you’d expect in a story that begins with deaths from diarrheal diseases. But as with most of the objects that we consider waste, there’s another life in ours, too!

When someone uses a SHRI toilet, their poo isn’t done its journey. Once in the tubes, it’s sent to a biodigestor to break down. From this, methane gas is produced (yes, the same thing that cows burp out!) that SHRI then uses to produce energy for an on-site water filtration center!

People are welcomed to pick up clean drinking water for just half a rupee ($0.008) per liter! Then all of these funds are cycled back into paying for the upkeep of the facilities—ensuring that the community has a clean, safe space to go for free.

Currently, SHRI has 8 facilities that serve over 6,000 people a month! In that same time, approximately 90,000 liters of clean water are also sold to the community!

BBC brings us SHRI’s story in this fantastic video:

Via: BBC 2

To learn more about SHRI and their mission, check out their website! And if you’d like to learn more about the topic of open defecation in India, this TED Talk does a great overview of why it’s still such a common practice.

And if you’d like to see more content from BBC, make sure you subscribe to their YouTube channel!

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Rethinking the waste life cycle

When we take the time to examine some of our biggest problems, we often find they’re more connected than we initially assumed.

Using our poo to create clean water isn’t a linear thought for most of us. It took intention and creativity to create a system where all parts feed into each other, making so much more possible.

There are all sorts of ways that we can create sustainable businesses that provide only benefits every step of the way. Actually, it’s more than just possible: it’s happening all around the world, right now. And you can be a part of it, too!

Are there byproducts of your work that could actually solve another problem? Could you plan your next project to make progress in multiple areas? Check out these stories to see where else you can find this innovative thinking in practice!

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As always, my friend, stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

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  1. Snyder, David, and Northcut, Thomas. Diarrhea: Common Illness, Global Killer. 2012.
  2. BBC News. “Can Poo Power Solve India’s Toilet Problem? – BBC News.” YouTube, 14 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zod0s11xYTk&feature=emb_title. Accessed 24 Sept. 2020.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.