Post-Sandy Emergency Toilets

Dearest Poopers, I know that for many of us on the East Coast, this has been a frightening and trying time. With all the talk about safe water, food and electricity, I am surprised by the lack of information about safe toileting.  Luckily, the friendly people at Portland PHLUSH are way ahead of us on this one and have even adapted their emergency toilet brochure for those reeling from Sandy's aftermath.

You can view it as a JPG by clicking the images below.

For an easy-to read PDF teaching you how to make a twin-bucket emergency toilet, CLICK HERE.

While The Puru is stuck in Brooklyn, there are many of you in lower Manhattan and elsewhere who could help distribute this information. For a printable PDF that folds into a handy brochure, CLICK HERE.

For more information about emergency toilets, take a look at the resources put together by PHLUSH and the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management by CLICKING HERE.

Hope everyone is staying safe and warm. Peaceful pooping, be it in toilet or bucket.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Edinburgh Will Eat $h*t THURSDAY!

Dearest Poopers, There’s so much going on, I barely know where to begin! So let’s go in reverse order, from future to past, shall we?

5. Eat $h*t opens at the Edinburgh Fringe on Thursday!
4. Golden Poo Award deadline approaches
3. Pootopia at Kendall Calling
2. Eat $h*t previewed at 59E59
1. The Puru gets podcasted

Here goes...


As I write this, we’re less than 48 hours away from opening Eat $h*t: How Our Waste Can Save the World at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival.

What? Really?!

Yes. Really. The time has finally come.

You can Eat $h*t with us at 1pm from Aug. 2-27 at C venues – C nova in their delightful cabaret space. Reserve your place at the table today!


Submissions are due tonight, July 31, at midnight for the 2012 Golden Poo Awards. It's a fun competition for short videos which, "tackle the issue(s) of sanitation and/or hygiene in a catchy, emotive, funny, sensational or 'infectious' way."

Filmmaker Karina Mangu-Ward will be submitting this beautiful short about The POOP Project, featuring interviews with me and clips from Eat $h*t and a benefit performance for My Wife's Ass, an important work about body liberation by Glenn Marla and Hana Malia.

I'm a Pooper and So Are You from Karina Mangu-Ward on Vimeo.


The Puru spent the last three days with MC FeeCee (aka Australian loo king Hamish Skermer) and the whole Pootopia crew, manning the eco-loos at Kendal Calling music festival.

Ever been to a festival/art fair/any event and been forced to use a porta potty? It's not a pleasant experience. For anyone. Except flies.

Pootopia is the incredible alternative to the miserable status quo. Featuring friendly staff, great tunes, and clean, earth-friendly composting toilets that not only smell better but also feature a fantastic bottom breeze, Pootopia brings the user to true poo-phoria. There's even a golden toilet with its own discoball, after-poo mints, photobooth and so much more!

I'll hopefully get a chance to write more about Pootopia in the days to come, and even post some video. In the meantime, check out their Facebook page to learn more.


Thank you to all those who came out for our preview performances of Eat $h*t at 59E59's East to Edinburgh festival! It was a great pleasure to perform for such packed, enthusiastic houses and we learned a TON about the show. We even garnered a great (if somewhat skeptical) review! Yay poop!


The Puru has been featured on the first episode of The Eclectic Esoteric, a new podcast by Jia H. Jung. It's a wide-ranging conversation covering all things poop, and featuring a lot of behind the scenes details on the creation of Eat $h*t. I was really tired when we recorded it, which means less filter and more honesty for you! Plus my voice sounds really soft and sweet on the recording. Click the link above, or listen below.


Peaceful pooping until next time,

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Check out The Puru's Guest Blog for TOILET TWINNING

Ever thought of twinning your toilet? Well, for £60, you can twin your toilet at home, work or school with a latrine in the remote Giharo Commune of Rutana Province, Burundi at Toilet Twinning.

Toilet Twinning was created by international charities Cord and Tearfund to provide complete water, sanitation and hygiene education.  I love the way they use technology to connect people to their purchase:

When you twin your toilet, your loo is linked with a latrine Africa. You'll receive a framed certificate of your toilet's twin, containing a photo, the latrine's location and its GPS coordinates so you can look it up on Google Maps.

The Puru is honored and humbled to have recorded a guest podcast for the Toilet Twinning blog.  To hear these 3 minutes of craptastistic-ness yourself, CLICK HERE!

Peaceful pooping,

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

AIDS and Sanitation: Accomplices in Crime

First off, thanks so much for all the recent attention we've been generating online.  If you're curious to know more about how we've been caught in the world wide web, take a look at our press page! That said, we wanted to talk about World AIDS Day, yet still things got kinda crappy...

Here at The POOP Project, we spend a lot of time talking about something that's normally left unsaid.  We think it's a pretty important job, and not one many others are willing to tackle.  Even though poop-related illnesses kill thousands of people every day, we mostly hear about these diseases euphemistically as "water-borne," or are led to think the crisis is "access to water."  In reality, the issue is sometimes not the water itself, but the presence of bacteria that come from the bowels. Everything is connected.

We already know that our reluctance to talk about the toilet impedes progress towards solving a sanitation crisis affecting 40% of our world population.  But have you ever thought about how sanitation issues might affect other, better-publicized crises?

Take malnutrition, for example. We've all seen pictures of suffering children who are barely more than skeletons, but may not have realized that contamination from poop causes the very diarrhea that makes them malnourished.  Similarly, the bloated bellies we're familiar with in the media comes from parasitic worms found in feces.

Poor sanitation also serves as a catalyst for malaria, as mosquitoes use public toilets, ditches, and other stagnant water as breeding grounds.  Malaria will only be defeated using a combination of methods, but maybe the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation--which has made great progress by distributing nets, producing insecticides and researching a vaccine--could take a tip from Ghana, where they fought malaria by addressing sanitation.

As we take this day to honor those living with HIV/AIDS, it's important to remember that everything is connected.  To use some simple examples, if the water you're using to take your pills also gives you a good dose of hepatitis B, typhoid or giardia, is it still going to prolong your life?  There are many more long-lasting connections, and I encourage you to take a look at the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre for a number of informative articles on the topic.  The video below, by South Africa's Water Research Commission and Mvula Trust, follows a home healthcare worker in South Africa explaining why water/sanitation are crucial to addressing HIV/AIDS there. (Note that, although they address the notion that water, sanitation and hygiene all play a key role, water is the main feature.)

Wishing you health this World AIDS Day, and as always, peaceful pooping.

The Puru

World Toilet Day Gone Down the Drain

To all the performers, volunteers and hip New Yorkers who came out to make World Toilet Day New York a huge success: THANK YOU!!  The place was packed with Bacchanalian revelers singing, dancing, and worshiping at the altar of the Porcelain God.  I was one proud Puru to stand in front of so many poopers all gathered in one place.  (See them all practicing their squats on our Facebook fan page or Flickr stream!) For those almost three hours, we managed to create a supportive community where the most private and embarrassing details of our lives become commonplace conversation.  By the end of the night, not a thigh muscle was left unstrained as people proudly squatted in solidarity with our toilet-less brothers and sisters.  Not to mention that we raised $652.08, which will all go towards producing outreach materials and bringing a one-man shit show to the Edinburgh International Fringe in 2011.

We've got a great flow going, now let's keep it moving!

There are many different sides to the sanitation question--domestic, international, environmental, sociological--but in honor of World Toilet Day, here are a few ways to get educated and get involved in empowering the developing world with a proper place to put their poo.

BROWSE: The UN's Water For Life initiative gives a great overview with links to many other resources., although they couch sanitation as a water issue, also offers a very accessible primer. Lastly, Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council gives an in-depth overview on many of the key sanitation issues facing the developing world. For some quick statistics, take a look at WaterAid and these UN graphs and maps.

WATCH: Adam Yamaguchi of Vanguard explores the World Toilet Crisis first-hand in this 45 min. documentary.  (More from Vanguard on the subject here.) These five videos won the USAID Environmental Health Sanitation Video Contest--five very inspiring takes on how to convince a community that toilets are important.

READ: Journalist Rose George's 2009 book, The Big Necessity, is a thorough and well-written introduction to the complicated world of both domestic and international sanitation.  2008 was declared the International Year of Sanitation, something UNICEF commemorated by co-publishing The Last Taboo, an in-depth account by Maggie Black and Ben Fawcett of how the crisis came to be, and how progress is and is not being made.

DO: Get together with your family, roommates or co-workers to fund a latrine in Burundi through sponsoring a child but a little different.  Consider donating to the World Toilet Organization, the people who sponsor World Toilet Day and serve as the number one advocate on behalf of the toilet-less.

MOST IMPORTANT: Lift the lid, unlock the stall door, and SPEAK UP for those who haven't got a pot to piss in.  Literally.

Wishing you all a year of peaceful pooping, until World Toilet Day 2012.

The Puru


And some videos to whet your appetite:

World Toilet Day in NYC

Like a march on Washington, only different...

Celebrate sanitation at World Toilet Day on Friday, November 19th in New York City!

The POOP Project invites you to join us in one of the many World Toilet Day events happening around the world, featuring an interactive evening honoring the miracle of modern sanitation while remembering that 40% of the world still lives without it.

Why toilets?

While not everybody needs the standard porcelain fixture we're familiar with in the West, everyone needs a safe, sanitary place to put their poo.  The 2.6 billion people around the world without toilets wind up doing their business in fields, alleys and local waterways--which means poop winds its way back onto people, leading to a host of illnesses including cholera, giardia, typhoid and plain ol' diarrhea--which kills one child in the developing world every 15 seconds.

Even though sanitation kills more people than tuberculosis, malaria and HIV combined, it gets far less press because the toilet is taboo.  Which is why we're asking people to come out of the water closet and come on down to celebrate the plumbing that makes our lives possible.

World Toilet Day New York

Come Home Sweet Home to drink dirty martinis, give a "commode confessional", and check out authentic "flying toilets."  Write your thoughts on a stall wall, submit a secret to our privy chamber pot, and take a picture of your poo face in prep for The Big Squat--a minute of thigh-straining solidarity with the toiletless.

Shawn "The Poop Guru" Shafner and Josh Sitron will be your hosts for the evening, with sounds, stories, and unmentionables provided by Moth storyteller and comedian Sara Barron along with word mavens Amy Carrigan, Adam Laupus and Lisa Lewis, singer-songwriters Avi Fox-Rosen, Megan Gerlach, Ben Lerman, Brian Carter, and Hilary Schwartz PLUS buxom burlesque beauty Minnie Tonka and much more!

WHERE: Home Sweet Home, 131 Chrystie Street, New York, NY DATE/TIME: Friday, Nov. 19, 2010.  7:30 pm Doors, 8:30 pm Performances, 9:45 pm Big Squat, 10:00 pm Closing TICKETS: $15.00 tickets online, $18.00 at the door.  Limited supply $3 drink tickets good for draft beer and well drinks.



All proceeds benefit The People's Own Organic Power Project (The POOP Project) in their mission to creative poop-positive spaces that spur creative thinking towards sustainable sanitation solutions for all.

(Porta-potty photo by AnyaLogic, licensed under Creative Commons. Big Squat banner property of the World Toilet Organization.)

The Puru at the World Toilet Summit

I just arrived for the World Toilet Summit, a conference with the goal to "nurture collaboration between government bodies, researchers, aid organizations and industry towards sanitation solutions for the 2.5 billion people without reasonable access to safe toilets." Since its inception ten years ago, the summit has been hosted in Singapore, India and even Ireland. This year it comes to Philadelphia as part of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers conference--a great way to get domestic business types interested in the approx. 1.4 billion people without sanitation who can afford it, but may not yet know that they wanted. Tonight I attended the welcome reception at the National Constitution Center, ate some cheese, danced, and added my signature to the Constitution. Tomorrow the real work begins at 8:00am with the "International Breakfast." Looking forward to keeping you all up to date as things progress...