Poo for the Planet: The Many Functions of Feces

Poo for the Planet: The Many Functions of Feces

Michael Lowe
Published: 04/23/2010


(Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Nestor Galina)

The latest solution to global warming? Whale poo.  The aqua mammalian excreta is a natural ocean fertilizer that could aid the Southern Ocean in absorbing more carbon dioxide.

The whale droppings are rich in iron and fertilize surface waters allowing for more carbon dioxide absorption. Because iron is scarce in the Southern Ocean, the whale poop could be a vital additional nutrient in promoting phytoplankton algal blooms that would, in turn, ease carbon dioxide levels in the air responsible for global warming. “We reckon whale poo is probably 10 million times more concentrated with iron than sea water," Antarctic scientist Steve Nicol told Reuters.

Despite the optimistic findings, researchers have yet to discover just how much poo it would take to have a significant impact on carbon dioxide levels. 

This isn't, however, the first time we've found a function for feces. 

Poo Poo Paper makes paper products, including journals, notebooks and greeting cards out of naturally dried elephant droppings. Natural fibers such as banana leaves and pineapple are mixed into the dung for a stronger product and, after a washing, rinsing, mixing and drying process, poopy paper is made! The end product is not only sustainable, but also odorless - two very important qualities to any dung-based commodity.

Researchers have also made crude oil out of pig poop, flooring out of cow dung, and facial cream made out of nightingale droppings used by Victoria Beckham, so you know it's good.


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