The Save! toilet (seen here) was included at this year’s Milan Triennale. Courtesy Laufen Swiss bathroom brand Laufen ’s new toilet is a bit unusual. Beyond being a handsome fixture, it promises to make the bathroom more sustainable by separating urine from the wastewater. This seemingly simple act could create an alternative to energy-intensive fertilizer production and reduce pollution in our waterways and oceans. Just as impressive is that Austrian design firm EOOS devised a simple, non-mechanical apparatus that performs the separation without the user even knowing it. How is urine connected to fertilizer and pollution? The answer lies in two elements: phosphorus and nitrogen, both of which are abundant in urine. These two minerals are essential nutrients for plants (and therefore used extensively in fertilizer) but are not extracted at sewage treatment plants. This means that phosphorus and nitrogen subsequently get pumped into rivers, oceans, and lakes, where they contribute to algal blooms, hypoxia, and dead zones incompatible with marine life. While agricultural fertilizer runoff is a major contributor to such dead zones, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 7 percent of total nitrogen and 13 percent of total phosphorus pollution in the Gulf of Mexico comes from […]

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