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Articles by Catherine Price

Catherine Price is a contributing editor at Popular Science whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Best American Science Writing and Slate, among many other publications. The research for this article was funded through a Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Reporting.

Featured Article

Part 3 of Grist’s special series on poop.

Laura Allen, a 33-year-old teacher from Oakland, California, has a famous toilet. To be honest, it’s actually a box, covered in decorative ceramic tiles, sitting on the cement floor of her bathroom like a throne. No pipes lead to or from it; instead, a bucket full of shavings from a local wood shop rests on the box next to the seat with a note instructing users to add a scoopful after making their “deposit.” Essentially an indoor outhouse, it’s a composting toilet, a sewerless system that Allen uses to collect her household’s excrement and transform it into a rich brown material known to fans as “humanure.”

Laura Allen’s famous composting toilet.Courtesy Nicolas Boullosa via FlickrAllen is a founding member of an activist group devoted to the end of sewage as we know it. Her toilet recently made an appearance in the Los Angeles Times — which might explain why she didn’t seem surprised when I emailed her out of the blue to ask if I could use it.

Lifting the seat, she showed me a seal of insulating foam tape she’d put around its edges to prevent o... Read more

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