27.-29. Mai 2024
When sewers were built in the 19th century, they were regarded as a blessing. Deadly epidemics that wiped out millions of people became a thing of the past in the Western world. However, sewers also abolished the millennia-old tradition of using our excrement as fertilizer, and broke the nutrient cycle of grow-eat-excrete-compost-to grow food again. The modern flush and forget toilet discards our excrement as waste, while agriculture uses more mineral fertilizers to produce food. Mineral fertilizers which require large amounts of fossil fuels to be extracted, and whose global reserves are uncertain and difficult to predict.
With the WC or common modern toilet, we flush and forget, out of sight, out of mind. In times of a growing world population, it does not work anymore because they pollute our waterways, and waste precious drinking water and minerals. It is a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.
Rubén Abruña follows the poop trail and asks why these systems were built. With him we explore not only the famous Parisian sewers, but also huge sewage sludge tanks in New York City. The supposed solution to use sewage sludge as a fertilizer proves to be a worst-case toxic scenario where dairy farmers in the US have to dump their milk because it is poisoned.
Rubén Abruña looks for regenerative options. The "Poo Pirates" in Uganda teach villagers how to use low-cost dry toilets to make fertilizer and prevent epidemics. In Sweden, Carl Lindström designs a dry toilet that is not disgusting, and in Geneva and Hamburg, entire residential complexes and neighborhoods have their own localized closed-water cycle treatment plants that produce electricity and fertilizer.
But are we ready to overcome our learned disgust? Actually, we do not want to smell, see, or hear anything. That's why the luxurious water-flushing, music-playing Japanese toilets which wash and dry without paper, are so appealing.
“Holy Shit” shows in a playful way that an open confrontation with our excrement, shit, poop, or whatever we call it, is overdue. Because only if you talk about it, you can find solutions. In his quest Rubén Abruña encounters people who give him answers on how to deal with the challenges of global food security, environmental protection, hygiene and global warming.
At the end singer-songwriter Iris Lamouyette will present the song "Holy Shit" first time.