Regenerating Ecologies 2017 - ongoing

Anthroponix is a transdisciplinary research and design agency funded by the Dutch Creative IndustriesFund, DesignTrust and Waterschap de Dommel in search for regenerative human and environmental development. Team Anthroponix proposes a new concept for a generative feedback loop regarding our ‘bodily waste’.

Every day we flush away 1.4 liters of our own urine with 33 liters of drinking water. Since the human body only absorbs 15% of the nutrient intake, this means up to 85% of nutrients ingested are ‘sanitized’ in ways that degrade water bodies and soil ecologies. Urine contains the three main nutrients plants need to survive: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Inspired by the abundance of these natural, everflowing ‘human resources’, team Anthroponix sees it as an opportunity to radically change these broken nutrient cycles and to create life out of what is considered ‘waste’.

If we would harvest these nutrients from our own body instead of sourcing them from limited resources, we can use them to grow new life sustainably. If sensibly collected, you could grow 250 kilos of wheat or rice with a year worth of your own urine. That’s about 3000 meals, or a thousand liters of beer!

Culminating in a citizen science study, this ‘Participatory Urban Metabolism’ aims to explore what dialogues occur in the process of re-relating our human organism biologically with the natural world. In a coordinated, biopedagogic effort, 34 households in Hong Kong and Eindhoven engaged in this ecohealth experiment. Over three months, the participants collected, fermented and monitored personal urine samples at home to fertilize edible plants in a soilless, water-based growing solution, using the Anthroponix GrowKit. In these consequential human-to-plant nutrients passages, participants set out to close their personal food loop and nurture plants that serve as living biomarkers of lifestyle habits while their fermented urine is both a diagnostic time capsule of the human-enviro health condition as a regenerative plant fertilizer. Yet eventually the participants were confronted with transformative dynamics from the defamiliarization of self, meaning, and common experience.

Academic research in the field of nutrient recycling is essential for the future. In collaboration with several scientists the team continues to improve and to deepen the technical side of Anthroponix. With their research, team Anthroponix aims to develop the knowledge of human waste recycling, and develop new techniques of using our waste in a regenerative way. On you can find this research ('Lactic acid fermentation of human urine to improve its fertilizing value and reduce odor emissions' and 'Nutrient availability and drug related hormones analysis of fermented and unfermented human urine' among others) team Anthroponix is initiating and published papers by the researchers of the Anthroponix network.

In collaboration with Markus Wernli, Sarah Daher, Thieu Custers and Anne van Strien.

Supported by Design Trust (Hong Kong) and Research Institute for Sustainable Urban Development, Creative Industries NL (Rotterdam). In collaboration with Wageningen University & Research Science Shop, Waterschap de Dommel and Aquon.