Greening Cities Through the Power of Public Urination

via The Atlantic Cities

via The Atlantic Cities

John Metcalfe writes in The Atlantic Cities

If you live in an American metropolis, chances are you’ve inhaled the pungent odor of human toilet.  For the homeless and the drunk, the city’s alleyways are makeshift bathrooms.  But what if public urination could be used for good?

Designers in San Francisco have that in mind.  The PPlanter team has created “a rapidly deployable, reconfigurable public urinal and sink that uses modular bamboo biofilters to treat urine and waste-water.”

As Metcalfe explains:

How does this amazing technology work? In short, somebody who needs to really go – the inventors are targeting beer drinkers and homeless people – holds it in long enough to reach a PPlanter. Guys level a stream into the urinal (ladies, you get the pleasure of using a “disposal funnel”) where a possibly bamboo filtration system converts it into drank that’s delicious for plants.

What’s unclear to me (after reading their Indiegogo) is whether or not the treated pee pee can be used to nourish other plants, or if the PPlanter is merely a sophisticated urinal that is merely a bamboo in a planter pot.

My guess is that, in large public gatherings, dozens of PPlanters would feed a large expanse of greenery, replacing the gag-inducing columns of teal porta-potties.

But even in the less ambitious scenario, having a publicly available waste-water system is preferable to treating the city like a gutter.

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4 thoughts on “Greening Cities Through the Power of Public Urination

  1. Hey there, I’m one of the PPlanter designers. To answer your question about how it works – there is a 5-layer filtration system built into the center module (where the urinal and sink are located) to help capture excess nutrients, pollutants, and salts prior to urine/sink-greywater being pumped into the bamboo planters. Indeed, you’re right – we could use the center urinal module with ANY nutrient/salt-tolerant plants. That’s part of what makes the system modular/reconfigurable as we describe it. For multiple urinal units, we could bring out 10+ bamboo planters, or just locate the urinal adjacent to a large garden, farm, or compost pile as long as there are plants that are nutrient/salt tolerant.

    We like to point out that this project will initially be intended for festivals and food-truck confluences. Down the line, once we’ve gotten enough funding, fixed any bugs that exist, and made it more rugged, we could deploy it on streets for more permanent use by anyone and everyone.

  2. […] writing a post on the fascinating new PPlanter, one of their designers, Julia Schmitt, was kind enough to write in and provide some key […]

  3. I did try doing a bit of overseeding on my own lawn this past year as I had several patchy
    parts, and found it worked well by summer time!

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