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What is the most eco-friendly loo?

Lucy Siegle, The Guardian
The toilets are one of the main gripes among attendees at ‘green’ gatherings. Not because they’re too rudimentary in a ‘drop/thud’ latrine type way, but because organisers go to all the effort of setting up a green-themed shindig then wheel in noxious chemical loos.

Why, when you can even hire compost conveniences ( Ecological sanitation (ecosan) is almost always superior to the plumbed-

in thrones through which we expend 4,000 litres of water to wash away the 13 gallons of faeces and 130 gallons of urine we each produce annually (plus, huge amounts of energy are required to run sewage works). The Enviro Loo, a self-contained dry toilet, uses wind and sun to reduce solid waste to what proponent James Young ([email protected]) calls a ‘cowpat left in the sun for six months’. The first UK Enviro Loo is now being enjoyed by volunteers on a Lancastrian allotment. The rest of us remain wedded to what sanitation expert Arno Rosemarin terms a ‘flush-and-forget system’. The only toilet innovation most of us encounter is the ‘low-flush loo’, which offers pathetically minimal opportunities to lighten the load…
(5 October 2008)

Freecycle: the big green giveaway

Anna Shepard, Times (UK)
From baby gear to bedlinen, meet the people who have found treasure in other people’s trash

If you haven’t already come across Freecycle, the online recycling network – one of the biggest green initiatives of the past decade – it is a global network of message boards, with more than 450 groups in the UK. The beauty of it is that it transforms one person’s trash into another’s treasure.

You sign up to your local group, where you can post messages to say what you’re offering, or looking for. No money changes hands and it’s up to the person who wants an item to collect it, so you don’t have to stress about how you’re going to heave an unwanted futon out of your home.

In these financially worrying times, it makes sense to trade household items with neighbours rather than buying them new. Freecycle has become a valuable way of acquiring things you want (without spending any money) and getting rid of those you don’t (without sending them to landfill).

… “It’s down to trust”
– Catherine Dean, new mum

The 31-year-old lives in East London with her husband James and three-month-old daughter, Lauren (pictured). She joined her local Freecycle network three years ago, but it wasn’t until she was pregnant that she realised how useful it could be. “Going round John Lewis I was amazed how much money you can spend on baby stuff that you use for only a short time.”

… How to get the most from Freecycle:
(27 September 2008)

Freegans and FreeCycling Gain Fans

Michelle Conlin, Business Week
“Freegans” are trading in consumerism for dumpster-diving

Josh Corlew’s grocery bill is zero. The furniture in his Nashville home didn’t cost him anything, either. His fridge, TV, and microwave—all free. It’s been two years now since he last bought the ingredients for his signature sausage dish. Corlew, a 26-year-old nonprofit manager, has effectively dropped out of Consumer Nation. He goes shopping in the disposable culture’s garbage instead.

Corlew is part of a growing number of Americans for whom getting stuff for free is next to godliness. Yes, most everyone is cutting back. But these folks take frugality to its extreme. In cities like New York and wealthy suburbs like Grosse Pointe, Mich., and Plano, Tex., it is possible to live like a king (well, a duke anyway) out of a dumpster. Sushi, cashmere sweaters, even Apple (AAPL) computers—all for the taking. “We’re used to fulfilling most of our needs through the marketplace,” says Syracuse University culture professor Robert Thompson. “But now with technology there is access to more that is free than in any time in the history of the world.”

As you might expect, the free movement is heavy on idealism. None more so than the so-called freegans. They believe America’s consumer society is inherently corrupt and wasteful, and they want no part of it. Skeptics might see another motive at work: Freegans don’t pay for anything.
(9 October 2008)