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Parisian Street Urinals Turn Pee Into Compost

In many cities, getting caught peeing in public can saddle you with a hefty fine, or even land you in court. But there are simply not enough public restrooms to accommodate the needs of bar hoppers, the homeless, and people with weak bladders. Some cities have attempted to rectify this problem with free-standing bathrooms, while others have installed retractable urinals that rise up from the ground at night. (Amsterdam has a version that’s made for women to use, too.)

Paris is dealing with the perils of stray pee in a more attractive way, as Co.Design reports. Uritrottoir, a public urinal created by the Nantes-based design studio Faltazi, is a flower bed urinal that creates compost out of men’s pee. The city has bought two of the urinals so far, with plans to purchase more if they prove effective.

The flower boxes sit on top of a compost bin filled with hay. The urine is diverted into the straw, adding an extra source of nitrogen to the composting process. It doesn't directly provide compost to the flowers atop the bed, though; the plants are just for a little extra class. In order to make sure that no individual Urtrottoir overflows, the bins have wireless sensors, so someone can monitor the pee levels remotely and replace the bins, transporting the golden-soaked straw to a facility outside the city. According to The New York Times, it will cost around $865 a month to pay workers to clean the two toilets and haul away the pee-straw mix.

Faltazi previously created a funnel that can be installed in hay bales at music festivals to create outdoor, compost-friendly urinals in any location. Placed on sidewalks and in secluded corners, the flower-box version gives men out and about in the city an opportunity to relieve themselves in a way that doesn’t require a city cleanup crew. The boxes come with a privacy shield much like a regular urinal would have, so passersby don’t get an eyeful. And when no one is actively adding compost materials, they just look like a nice little flower bed.

It's a stand-up only design, though, so women will have to keep holding it for the foreseeable future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy Faltazi.

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In-Flight Bidets Could Be the Next Big Thing in Plane Design
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There are plenty of things to hate about flying, but having to repeatedly use a public (and very tiny) bathroom over the course of several hours is up there. That could change in the near future, though. Travel + Leisure reports that Zodiac Aerospace, a manufacturer of plane cabin interiors, is working on a fancy plane toilet like no other—outside of private jets, that is. Yes, it's a toilet with a built-in bidet.

Zodiac debuted its new design at the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany. The company's latest and greatest toilet, which you can operate from a remote control that would be installed on a wall of the bathroom, features an adjustable water spout that retracts and can provide a nice spray for both the front part of your undercarriage and your back end. For those who understandably worry about germs on their airplane toilets, it comes with a special UV light to disinfect the loo.

According to Travel + Leisure, Zodiac's bidet-equipped toilets will most likely appear first on airlines based in places like Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, where bidets are more commonplace. The design might not be so appealing to airlines in the U.S., which is strangely averse to two-in-one toilet/butt-washing technology.

It's rare to see a plane upgrade that's actually good news for travelers. While there is the occasional proposal that might make economy travel more comfortable—like a design that would make middle seats wider and more accessible, or a seat that could alert the crew if you're having a panic attack mid-air—most new proposals would make flying even more of a nightmare than it already is, like a seat Airbus proposed in 2014 that would put passengers essentially in rows of bicycle seats for their entire flights.

Zodiac hasn't announced whether a specific plane or airline already plans to put this upgraded toilet into use, so it could be a while before you get to use it for yourself. Sorry, butts.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Bathroom Hand Dryers Might Be Blasting Us With Poo Particles
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Using a public restroom can be a stressful experience. People inevitably shake the flimsy stall doors to check for occupancy. Soap can be missing and gastrointestinal noises can be heard. Now, a new study has found that the perils of public voiding may not end at the sink. The wall-mounted hand dryers—often believed to be a sanitary solution—could be blasting fecal bacteria right back on your hands.

Published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the report looked at 36 bathrooms at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Samples of bacterial colonies were taken on plates. A typical bathroom air sample averaged less than one colony, while plates positioned underneath a hand dryer for 30 seconds averaged 18 to 60 colonies per plate.

Researchers aren't yet sure whether the dryers are actually harboring bacteria or simply sucking it up and then blowing a concentrated amount back out: Swabs of dryer nozzles had only minimal bacteria levels. Researchers found that installing a HEPA filter in the dryers dramatically reduced their bacterial load.

Bacteria in a public bathroom are likely coming from nearby toilets, which don't have lids and can release fecal particles when flushed. So what do you do if you don't want weaponized poo on your freshly washed hands? Avoid the dryer and stick with paper towels. But for relatively healthy people who aren't immunocompromised, a few blasts of contaminated air probably won't harm you.

[h/t CBS Pittsburgh]

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