Every now and again, a story appears that is just, in a word, a gem. A little nugget of beauty. A thing that makes the writerly heart sing. Today, we find that story in dog poop. Jay Lindsay, AP writer, hones in on an angle right off the bat — dog poop has a bright side! And it only gets better from there.
In short, an artist named Matthew Mazzotta is converting dog poop into energy to light a lantern at a Cambridge dog park. Innovative! Ecological! Economical! Gross!
After the dogs do their business, signs on the tanks instruct owners to use biodegradable bags supplied on site to pick up the poop and deposit it into the left tank. People then turn a wheel to stir its insides, which contain waste and water. Microbes in the waste give off methane, an odorless gas that is fed through the tanks to the lamp and burned off. The park is small but has proven busy enough to ensure a steady supply of fuel.
Dog owners are thrilled, or at least one of them is. Says Lindsey Leason, a 29-year-old Harvard student: “Since I have to pick up dog poop a lot, I think I’d rather have it be useful.”
The idea actually came from the artist’s visit to India, where he saw people using poop to cook food via “methane digesters.” Yum.
Given New York City’s perpetual poop problem, including those nasty dog waste wars that crop up constantly, we are entranced by visions of the many amazing things that might someday run on poop. Vibrators? Cabs? Hospital ERs? Ourselves?
Or maybe this is a pursuit better left to the Massholes.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 22, 2010