Executive Briefings

At Ongoing Standing Rock Protests, Not Just Any Toilet Will Do

The scale and duration of the protests that have unfolded here over the fall and winter by those determined to block the Dakota Access oil pipeline have created endless logistical challenges.

The camps are far from any city, lack electricity and running water and offer no permanent shelters. If people need something, they have to bring it or build it. That includes bathrooms.

For many months, the prairie grass provided the only accommodations. Then, in a sign that protesters planned to stay awhile, portable toilets were hauled in.

Late last fall, though, a new problem arose: The weather started getting cold. Soon it would get really cold, North Dakota cold, as in well below zero. At those temperatures, the contents and occupants of portable toilets can freeze.

And so it was that one of the nation’s largest and longest environmental protests found a solution to an environmental problem that had nothing to do with the fight against fossil fuels. They needed to go to the bathroom, so they created an elaborate composting toilet operation that has become a marvel of efficiency and an unlikely center of community.

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The camps are far from any city, lack electricity and running water and offer no permanent shelters. If people need something, they have to bring it or build it. That includes bathrooms.

For many months, the prairie grass provided the only accommodations. Then, in a sign that protesters planned to stay awhile, portable toilets were hauled in.

Late last fall, though, a new problem arose: The weather started getting cold. Soon it would get really cold, North Dakota cold, as in well below zero. At those temperatures, the contents and occupants of portable toilets can freeze.

And so it was that one of the nation’s largest and longest environmental protests found a solution to an environmental problem that had nothing to do with the fight against fossil fuels. They needed to go to the bathroom, so they created an elaborate composting toilet operation that has become a marvel of efficiency and an unlikely center of community.

Read Full Article