Matilde Calamandrei

Anthroponics unravelled

Ever heard of this unconventional horticulture technique?

Now you have! Let's find out what is it about


Urine for the world - by Calamitha Deranger

The term "anthroponics" derives from the Greek words "anthro" meaning "man" and "ponics" meaning "labor". This neologism clearly describes the essence of the technique: a variation of aquaponics wherein human urine serves as the organic input.

The fundamental principle, in fact, mirrors that of conventional aquaponics: plants grow in a soilless medium, which in our case are lava rocks and expanded clay, through which water from fish tanks, rich in ammonia, circulates. Within this medium, a biofilter comprising nitrifying bacteria, worms, and fungi converts the ammonia to nitrate, providing essential nutrients for plant growth.

Indeed, the concept of reusing excreta is as old as history itself, but historically it has predominantly involved animal waste.
What if we switched to human waste, instead of exploiting and enslaving other living organisms?


urine sample collected on 1/03/2024 -

While the use of fish waste in soilless agriculture dates back to 1991, when the researcher Guterstam B. publishes the article titled "Ecological engeneering for wastewater treatment: theoretical foundations and realities", the specific use of human urine in hydroponics is not explored for 10 more years: since then, both scientists and DIY enthusiasts started using their organic liquid wastes to grow vegetables.
The results have been remarkable. Did you know that a single individual can produce an average of 3 kg of lettuce per day using anthroponics? This output could theoretically satisfy the yearly lettuce consumption of more than three hundred people.

The shift to human waste, as you can imagine, offers several advantages – especially from an environmental perspective. Urine not only contains nitrogen but also valuable minerals such as chloride, sodium, and potassium, along with various organic compounds, rendering it an ideal fertilizer, and recycling it would help saving thousands of liters of good water: the toilet flushes 5 L of water, and on average one person pees 6/7 times per day; this means that we waste 30 L of drinkable water everyday on average.
Furthermore, technological advancements have facilitated the widespread adoption of anthroponic practices. Innovations in water filtration and purification systems have made it possible to safely process and use human urine as a nutrient-rich fertiliser without compromising public health.

As Mediamatic, in our small urban garden, we try our best to apply sustainable farming practices: this is why we're now gathering urine from the Pure Gold installation and using it in our aquaponics system.
And after just two months, our plants are thriving thanks to this technique.

Don't forget to use the urinals!, and thanks for your contribution!