Festivals can be great fun, but aren't always so friendly to the local environment. Gathering that many people in one place tends to produce a large amount of waste, but it's the human waste that can be the hardest to dispose of cleanly. That's why French design group Faltazi has produced L'Uritonnoir, a portable, composting urinal for large festivals that helps to turn a bale of hay into usable fertilizer.
The name derives from the French words "urinnoir," meaning urinal, and "entonnoir," meaning funnel; and that's basically what they are. By itself, a single Uritonnoir looks like a wide funnel with a tapered spike on the end and is either pre-made from stainless steel or folded together from a flat polypropylene sheet.
The simple urinals are designed for easy setup using a bale of hay as a stand. The spike on the end just needs to be inserted into the hay at a comfortable height and then secured with a strap that wraps around the entire bale. Depending on the size of the bale, you can add as many Uritonnoirs as you need.
The nitrogen in the urine reacts with the carbon in the straw to speed up the decomposition process, reducing an entire bale to fertilizer in 6-12 months. And since festivals go hand-in-hand with beer drinking, there's bound to be plenty of "nitrogen" to go around. As a bonus, festival organizers can opt to have graphics displaying their brand, paid advertising, or other messages silkscreened onto them.
Once the festival is over, L'Uritonnoir's creators suggest either having a garden service collect the bundles of smelly hay or leaving them in place to serve as planters in the future. The designers also suggest setting up a smaller bale of hay in a residential garden to make your own fertilizer at home. Ideally, this would all fit into Faltazi's larger Ekovores project, which aims to create designs for better local food production.
There are quite a few clear advantages to L'Uritonnoir's waste management system – it's cheap, creates a usable resource, doesn't require water, etc. – but there are also some potential disadvantages, like a lack of privacy. They're also likely to smell worse than typical porta-johns and aren't able to deal with number twos. One also has to wonder how much waste might be produced when the urinals are thrown out. The steel ones could possibly be washed and reused, but it's doubtful anyone would attempt that with the ones made from plastic.
Still, L'Uritonnoir could definitely appeal to some festival organizers, so the next time you see some bales of hay at an event, try not to mistake the straw urinals for the straw seats.
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