Marcel Duchamp was ahead of his time with his Fountain sculpture of a porcelain urinal. Then Andy Warhol created the Oxidation series of paintings created by urinating on copper-coated canvases. Urinetown made it to Broadway. Urine is not a new topic. However, it is trickling into the creation of consumer products with peecycling, beverages inspired by pee, and soap made from piss, while at-home urine tests emerge.
Peecycling, A Sustainable Fertilizer
“Peecycling,” the process of recycling human urine, is emerging as a sustainable alternative to chemical fertilizer. Human urine is said to be a source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and is being explored to boost plant growth. Vermont-based NGO Rich Earth Institute has a Urine Nutrient Reclamation Program for local donations. According to Rich Earth Institute, the urine an adult produces in a year is about 125 gallons, which is sufficient to grow 320 lbs of wheat. In Niger, female farmers have implemented the usage of sanitized urine for their pearl millet crops. The word urine is taboo for women to use, and they renamed the sanitized human urine Oga, which means “boss” in the Igbo language. According to a study, peecycling has produced a 30% higher yield of pearl millet. Paris announced plans to install urine-diverting toilets in 600 new apartments, using the collected pee to fertilize the city’s green spaces.
Beverages Inspired By Pee
In 2017, Danish beer company Norrebro Bryghus collected 50,000 liters of urine from the largest music festival in Northern Europe. The brewer used it to fertilize fields of malting barley rather than traditional animal manure or factory-made plant nutrients. Dubbed “Beercycling,” the brewery produced novelty beer Pisner. UK-based Oobah Butler’s Amazon expose documentary “The Great Amazon Heist” launched on October 19, 2023. Butler learned that Amazon drivers don’t have time for bathroom breaks and pee into bottles. In fear of being written up for being “off task” or getting dinged a point if bottles of urine are left inside their vehicles, they leave the bottles by the side of the road by Amazon fulfillment centers. In response to this publicly known poor business practice and to get Amazon’s attention, Butler collected bottles of drivers’ pee and set out to create a fictitious beverage brand to sell on Amazon. Butler enlisted designer Tristan Cross and they designed Release Energy, a fictitious energy drink made of urine. It is described as “The world’s first fully reusable energy drink,” “once you’re done with its contents, simply fill it back up to the brim and start again” and of course, “infinite refills.” Able to bypass Amazon’s algorithm, as a stunt, Butler was able to sell the beverage and become a No. 1 bestseller.
Piss Soap For A Circular Urine Economy
Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam launched New Store 1.0, a pop-up shop at Dutch Design Week. Designed to encourage more ethical, resource-conscious consumption, artist Arthur Guilleminot expanded his Piss Soap Project. Guilleminot invited visitors to donate their pee in designated cups in exchange for a piece of soap. The Piss Soap was formulated with previous participants’ urine and other waste materials from human activities like used cooking oil. According to Dezeen’s article, the soap takes three months to cure and is entirely odorless. “The project aims to find a new application for an underutilized waste material and engage people in a circular urine economy.”
At-Home Urine Tests
Urine has a variety of biomarkers that can be used to determine reproductive health and potential health risks. Activity in at-home urine tests emerge. Clearblue®, the brand known for pregnancy tests, recently launched the Menopause Stage Indicator. With the app, the Menopause Stage Indicator uses five at-home tests to track Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) over several days. It combines the results with the individual’s personal cycle information and age. U-Scan by Withings is an at-home, hands-free urine analysis system “designed to provide an immediate snapshot of the body’s balance.” The U-Scan has two parts: a reader and a replaceable cartridge. There are two use cartridges: Cycle Sync cartridge for reproductive health and Nutri Balance for nutrition. Each cartridge holds approximately 100 tests and lasts three months. Consumers attach the reader with the cartridge inside the toilet and pee on the thermal sensor, which differentiates the users. Using the Withings app, the results are sent via Wi-Fi and the cartridge rotates to the next test pod.
Like blood, watch as the use of urine continues to trickle into the creation of consumer products such as peecycling, beverages inspired by pee, and soap made from piss.