Poop Bucket With A Mission

We are all well aware of the various sanitation issues that developing countries are facing, the biggest one being poop management. It’s easy for the kids (and in some cases adults) to take to the open fields and roadsides, without realizing the implication of health hazards like disease outbreaks and food contamination. One of the solutions addressing this issue is the Poosh. This is a bucket-mounted toilet for the developing world.

Here are some highlights:

  • Human waste in its raw form is not safe to be used as a fertilizer on crops; however, after a lengthy decomposition process it becomes a good fertilizer.
  • Poosh emits low smell and is an easy-to-use toilet seat that works with a wide range of common bucket sizes.
  • A specially designed biodegradable bag (which collect the waste) made from bio-plastic includes some chemicals that speed up the decomposition of the human waste.
  • After about two weeks, one bag of waste will have transformed into a mound of rich fertilizer that can be used to add nutrients to crops.
  • The bag fits over a lip on the bottom of the seat and automatically seals when the bag is full and the seat is removed.
  • Poosh is constructed from post-consumer material (recycled water bottles), rubber, and bio-plastic. It has a simple, easy-to-clean design with no cavities that could collect waste and harvest germs.
  • The seat features a rubber resting surface so it will sit soundly and securely on a wide variety of buckets, including the common five-gallon bucket standard.
  • Precautions have been made to avoid unsanitary misuse.

Designers: Sangmin Bae, Kim Yeon Hee, Mark Whiting, Choi Eun Jung & Yu Hannie

Poosh Bucket Mounted Toilet Solution by Sangmin Bae, Kim Yeon Hee, Mark Whiting, Choi Eun Jung & Yu Hannie




  • trybudi says:

    why do i have a feeling that this is going to end up similarly with:

    its just the stereotype portrait of african is just harsh, making them looks uncivilized. somehow wrong

    • Chris Miller says:

      harsh isn’t wrong; photoshopping a pinstriped banker just doesn’t have the same impact as the need isn’t the same … great design function regardless of whoever is squatting wherever there aren’t “sanitary” facilities (e.g. needed by the REI pack it in/pack it out crowd too!~)

  • Mark Whiting says:

    Hey, I am one of the authors of this work. Thanks for posting it, we are really grateful for the coverage.

  • OK let me get this right, you have a special bag that is bio degradable and treated with enzymes that speed up the conversion of waste into fertilizer. This is aimed at the developing world, a land where transportation and cash can be pretty scarce. My question is this, if your trying to solve the problem, why not just supply the bio component in bulk form and forgo the expensive process of integrating it into a bag? I think you need to do a bit of real field research on waste disposal in the developing world, they after all have thousands of years experience in such matters before you offer a rather flawed “solution”.

  • trybudi says:

    some people don’t have the luxury of doing the real field research.

    do not get disheartened. prototype and test use of product application it is part of design process. this is still a concept which means improvements could always be made accordingly.

    • oh please, do a google search, read a bit, ask WHY. This is just a design for warm and fuzzy sake with no real attempt at solving the problem.

  • trybudi says:

    when you say “real” field research don’t you mean actually going to the area in question. living with them, share their experience. that is what i mean by REAL field research.

    nothing on google is going to be as real as that

  • I think this idea is quite well-thought out actually. The product promo images are a bit bad though.

  • Mark Whiting says:

    Hi again, I am still one of the authors of this work.

    I agree that the solution seems in some ways a little far fetched and perhaps inappropriate. We did however spend a lot of time doing extensive research on all sorts of related matters. Although we could not our selves do any research in the field there are a few great studies that are well documented about developing world waste management systems, from the field, that we relied heavily on, in order to get a better perspective of local needs. However, this is just a small part of the research we needed to do. We also looked at the appropriateness of many different market structures in different developing areas around the world and the manufacturing capabilities for local companies.

    There were many other forms of research relating to materials, social norms, decomposition methods etc. and mentioning all the findings that led to this design would constitute a really big comment. So, I will not. What I will say however is that some key issues we tried to deal with are as follows:

    – The local social norms for using toilets, not just in africa but in many different areas where this product could be used. This was tough because many of these norms are very different and very hard to change so we had to design something simple and general that could neatly fit in between many different situations.
    – Local weather conditions and anomalies. Heavy rain and little rain both influence the design opportunities in many ways. Most relevant countries are hot and at at least one time during the year the are in monsoon or undergoing frequent storms. This has a huge effect on how systems can work.
    – Market design potential. How to create services that could sustain businesses without causing problems to the local economy, and without being taken advantage of or used poorly (and failing to improve the situation).
    – The local and most relevant causes of death related to waste management. This is another complex situation because many of the biggest problems are not directly related to the management of the waste but more how people can get clean water. Waste bad management causes a systemic problem that leads to many other deseases but also makes water undrinkable and crops contaminated etc.

    The list goes on and with each of these there are many findings and sub perspectives. In that way it was a challenging and interesting project to work on. We are aware that we could not design a perfect solution however we feel relatively content with the outcome. Despite what many of you may feel, I think there is a lot of thinking and months of very valuable research that lead to this outcome.

    I should just mention that using Google and Google Scholar, despite the problem of disconnection from the subjects of your design, is actually a method which we used a lot. However, our aim was to find other research that we could trust well and learn deeply from. Google helped us find this kind of information. We also found it very helpful to read the blogs of several notable projects going forth at the time. Including an open project on developing pit toilets for south east asia which was conducted by a design lead from IDEO. Resources like this are exceptional and in some ways they can be more informative that one’s own field experience.

    I am interested to learn more from you guys. Thanks for the comments.

    • Thanks for your detailed response and a listing of your research areas. It may be the case where part of the project brief was to create a business opportunity in the local area If that was the case then your design is closer to the mark. If the project brief was to solve the problem however your solution was not as close as the material choice is far from optimum.
      This might be a case were talking to the suppliers of the bio agents (bactericidal and enzyme mix) might not only be helpful on a practical level and or a cooperative venture. What comes to mind is supplying free small packets that are tossed in by each user per use that were donated to the world health organization. The best solutions (and products) are simple, cost effective and work.

      • Mark Whiting says:

        I agree.

        We considered a lot of options, including something that could be dropped in. All the specific reasons that made this final outcome occur over the others are a bit too numerous to recall but part of our consideration was creating a system that would reduce the spread of airborne and fly carried deseases, for which a system with closure, like the seat mechanism here, helps a lot.

        In any case, I am sure there are better solutions and I agree that we should have had more development of the material. We were mostly modelling the material behaviour off of an existing project, the Pee Poo Bag – http://www.peepoople.com

        • I happy to eat my words, you did your research, however I would promote a more global view of research sources. Ah I see, and the peepoo bag is strongly supported by industry so they should be supplied free to the region. I would however suggest in the future on projects like this (or any for that matter) you ask the question “whom would have the most operational experience in this area”. In the realm of crapping out in the bush in a manner that is the most hygienic the real experts that come to mind would be the English and US army. I remember that the difference in how the waste was handled in the Africa campaign during ww2 made a huge difference in the health and effectiveness of the British and the German army. The Brits had a heck of a field system (most important, a layer of dirt on top of your contribution) where the Germans were poop and scoot.

          • Mark Whiting says:

            Thats a good point. We looked at some military handbooks but we did not compare them with many others around the globe. On study which proved to be really useful is one I mentioned earlier, which discussed many of the local issues including climate, social stigma and current habits in some parts of the world. Here is the blog relating to that project – wanderingjefe.blogspot.com

            Given the question you pose, “Whom would have the most operational experience in the area?” I think in retrospect, I would say it is groups like IDE (International Development Enterprise) as the needs of a large stationary population seem to be substantially different from those of a military force.

            In some parts of the world the local area population who could benefit from POOSH is more than a million people meaning that significant issues of scale need to be considered.

  • Nick says:

    what happens when someone poops and pees all over the seat and possibly spread more diseases? It’s not like they have cleaning supplies everywhere

    • Mark Whiting says:

      Yes this is a serious issue, as it also seems to be in many comunal bathrooms in first world countries where we do have cleaning material.

      We tried to deal with this to some degree by making no upwardly concave surfaces, by considering the tooling situation, so any liquid put on the seat in any place will drain off the seat or into the bucket.

      Another, related, consideration was to use smooth skinning plastic that would hopefully behave a bit like a ceramic does in a typical toilet bowl. Additionally none of the parts have crevices or hard to clean places and the seat flaps are removable for cleaning. However, the plastic is probably not as safe as a ceramic.

      Any suggestions?

      • you might look into some coatings that mimic lotus leaves ability to shed fluids. There are a number of paints that do this, and would let you use more locally producible materials such as stamped and or hammered sheet metal. The key is as always solve the problem first then use design to make the solution as attractive as possible. Nothing more useless than a beautiful object that doesn’t “work”.

  • Christine says:

    Hi – I am in New Zealand and live in a very high tourist area with campers and campervans. Not all have toilet facilities and I have been designing something along these lines with a biodegradable bag that could be disposed of at our waste stations. I am very keen to get something developed and have some great ideas for what I think would work. I would be interested in hearing from you.

  • really great coverage. Thanks for the great attribute

  • Tally says:

    Someone want to make a biogas-producing form of this bucket that would harness the natural gas from the breakdown process that could be used for cooking, powering anything with natural gas, or selling/trading for “energy credit” and then the left over “slurry” is still fertilizer?

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