"Human excreta" versus "human waste" and Wikipedia

  • KaiMikkel
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"Human excreta" versus "human waste" and Wikipedia

Hi All,

I'm hoping folks will chime in regarding an interesting debate underway amongst some of the folks working on sanitation wiki articles that concerns the existing "human waste" article on Wikipedia. After it occurred to me that it might be time to create separate articles for "human waste" and "human excreta" I did as much and apparently ignited a bit of a conversation over the concept. Others have pointed out even more reason for making some sort of update - like the fact that human waste has more than one meeting (it is also used to describe garbage/refuse or the junk/off-casts of society) and that "human excreta" is a more exact term for what some call "human waste". Elisabeth suggested that perhaps the "human waste" article should be renamed "human excreta" and that it should then include language that explains the term "human waste". For my part, my sole objective was to elevate the term "human excreta" to its rightful place as a term that is commonly used to describe something intended for use (a.k.a. "reuse") as opposed to something intended for disposal. I'm sure that I don't have to point out to all of you that language is powerful and that by deliberately using the term "human excreta" as many of us do we are attempting to subvert the dominant paradigm which views this material as, well, a waste - something to be disposed of rather than used for some purpose. Anyways, here's the link to the "human waste" article as it stands and here's the link to the talk page where the discussion is ongoing.

I'm not explaining this perfectly but I hope you see my point.

What do folks think?

Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)
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  • joeturner
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Re: "Human excreta" versus "human waste" and Wikipedia

As I said in the discussion on the wikipedia page, I think we have to face the reality of the way that the terms are commonly used. Very few are going to be looking for the term 'human excreta' and many more are going to be looking for 'human waste'.

The idea that human faeces is primarily something which should be considered for reuse is a) a minority view held by professionals involved in particular forms of sanitation and b) potentially something which could reduce from the importance of safe disposal. Many people see human faeces as something which should be disposed of in some way.

I believe most in sanitation would say that safe disposal was more important than reuse.

Also we have many technical pages describing the process and thinking behind reuse of faeces in sustainable sanitation, in particular en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_sanitation
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