By Carolyn Gibson
In just a few short days our delegation is heading to Brazil for a conference on sustainable development. But what does sustainable development mean? The interesting thing when discussing it is that it means different things for different people.
This past May I had the privilege to travel to Nicaragua where I stayed with a local family and worked on an organic permaculture farm. It was here, immersed in their culture, that I saw and learned what sustainability means to them. For the farming community of about 500 that I lived in the quality of their soil could make or break their food supply. For them sustainable means using farming practices that won’t degrade their soil and allows for a constant cycling of nutrients. How do they achieve this? With the use of something so simple yet genius: a composting toilet.
Toilets waste over 90% of the water taken in. Composting toilets allow for less wasted water and fertile soil as an output. After one makes their deposit you simply add wood chips. This helps with carbon-nitrogen balance. In the tropical areas of the world after the tank is full it takes just 6 months to produce fertile soil. In developing communities these toilets are incredible as the provide soil for family gardens and they provide an easy way of waste management.
As negotiators head to Rio+20 they must remember that “sustainable development” is not a one size fits all concept. Sometimes the answer can be as simple as a toilet.