Waste smothering our oceans is worth billions – here’s what we can do with all that sh$t

Waste smothering our oceans is worth billions – here’s what we can do with all that sh$t

In 2015, human poop was valued at $9.5 billion per year, which today would be $11.5 billion. The Ocean Sewage Alliance is uniting experts from key sectors to change how we handle our sewage and, in the process, create all sorts of economic benefits.

Photo by Simon Arthur on Unsplash

There’s hardly a person out there who hasn’t heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. That type of pollution is impossible to miss. It stares you in the face from pictures and videos of sea turtles with drinking straws up their noses and acres of plastic swirling in the sea.

It demands you to solve the problem—and it works. The campaign to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans has resulted in new policies, including bans on microplastics in personal care products, technology to clean up the plastic, and even new plastic-like materials that are better for the environment.

But there’s a different type of pollution smothering the ocean as you read this. Unfortunately, this one is almost invisible, but no less damaging. In fact, it’s even more serious than plastic and most people have no idea it even exists. It is literally under our noses, destroying our oceans, lakes, and rivers – and yet we are missing it completely while contributing to it daily. In fact, we exacerbate it multiple times a day—every time we use the bathroom.

It is the way we do our sewage.

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Stephanie Wear
Stephanie Wear is a marine scientist who has spent over two decades working with The Nature Conservancy to protect oceans for the benefit of marine life and the people that love and depend on it. She recently co-founded the Ocean Sewage Alliance and loves to talk sh$t with anyone who will listen.
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In this week's Friday Five, research on how to improve your working memory, the plain old solution to stress, rise of the robot surgeon, tomato brain power, the gut connection to health after strokes - and more.

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Heart model

Elaine Kamil had just returned home after a few days of business meetings in 2013 when she started having chest pains. At first Kamil, then 66, wasn't worried—she had had some chest pain before and recently went to a cardiologist to do a stress test, which was normal.

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Lina Zeldovich
Lina Zeldovich has written about science, medicine and technology for Scientific American, Reader’s Digest, Mosaic Science and other publications. She’s an alumna of Columbia University School of Journalism and the author of the upcoming book, The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth, from Chicago University Press. You can find her on http://linazeldovich.com/ and @linazeldovich.