Category Archives: Recycling

Rainwater Rescued from Regulation

Wasatch Community Gardens
Wasatch Community Gardens
Good news from Good online in a story titled, “As Water Crises Intensify, Cities Turn to Rainwater Harvesting.”

“Rainwater harvesting was illegal in Utah until 2010 and in Colorado until 2009. Colorado now allows harvesting only when landowners already own a well or have the right to use one on their property.”

Salt Lake City got the memo and citizens can learn rainwater harvesting at places like Wasatch Community Gardens.

“Rainwater collection that is used for gardening purposes is finally legal in Salt Lake. So we can finally have our Rainwater Harvesting workshop again!”

Unfortunately, sane people in the arid zone of Arizona were unsuccessful in a recent attempt to allow private rainwater collection, even though the downstream residents the law was designed to protect will have most of the uncollected rainwater evaporate before it reaches them. So it’s a loss for everyone.

Perhaps toilet-to-tap recycling like in Big Spring, Texas will solve Arizona’s drinking water shortage.

Call me strange, but I’d prefer the rainwater.

Texas Town Recycles Urine Like NASA

Island 3 O’Neill Cylinders
Earth Inspires Space Habitat
A Slashdot post, “Drought Stricken Texas Town Taps Urine For Water” links to a Discovery News story about the ironically named Big Spring, Texas project, “Texas Town To Recycle Urine.”

The Discovery News subtitle is “The drought-stricken town is taking a page from NASA, which developed a urine recycling program for astronauts.”

The Slashdot poster explains:

“After being run through microfilters and undergoing reverse osmosis, slimy sewage is cleansed with peroxide and ultraviolet light. This intense process ensures that any pharmaceuticals and carcinogens are removed, and that the H2O stands up to drinking water regulations.”

Coming to a water district near you? The Discovery News article interviews a big city DWP honcho considering a similar scheme and reports that 41% of America is abnormally dry.

In 2009, Pop Sci ran a story about a report from Finland, “Better Tomatoes Via a Fertilizer of…Human Urine?.”

“Plants fertilized with a mixture of stored human urine and wood ash produced 4.2 times more fruit than plants without the pee, the study found. The urine-fertilized tomatoes had more beta-carotene than unfertilized ones, and much more protein than traditionally fertilized plants.”

Speaking of NASA, click image of the view of Earth from Apollo 8 over Rama’s interior to see a list of O’Neill cylinders and other space habitats.

The Story of Stuff, an entertaining “consumption run amok” video presentation, illustrates the limitations of conventional recycling. For every barrel you recycle, 70 barrels of waste were required in manufacturing the item. And just 1% of the things people buy are kept six months later, the rest is trash. (Makes my iPod seem not quite as bad as Greenpeace made out in 2008).

“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.”–Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

Speaking of cradles, the book Cradle To Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things calls for true recycling as might be needed offworld in a self-contained habitat, according to Amazon:

In Cradle to Cradle, the authors present a manifesto calling for a new industrial revolution, one that would render both traditional manufacturing and traditional environmentalism obsolete. Recycling, for instance, is actually “downcycling,” creating hybrids of biological and technical “nutrients” which are then unrecoverable and unusable. The authors, an architect and a chemist, want to eliminate the concept of waste altogether, while preserving commerce and allowing for human nature.

In a completely unrelated story found on Google, NJ.com reported “Ice cream truck driver from Trenton is found with urine bottles in freezer after DWI charge.”

Ee-ew!

AP video about Big Springs, Texas: