Archives for posts with tag: green

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City

Paris has taken urban sustainability to the next level with the most recent addition to its team of municipal workers. Rather than investing in another fleet of gas-guzzling lawn mowers, the city has acquired four large sheep to take care of its green spaces. Known as “eco-grazing”, the sheep won’t just be mowing the city’s lawns — they’ll be fertilizing them too!

For now, the team of lawn-mowing sheep will be living and grazing a grassy slope just outside Paris’ Municipal Archives building. At a cost of €260, the sheep were incredibly cheap, another aspect of the program’s overall sustainability. Along with the wildly successfully Velib bike sharing system, the sheep are part of the efforts of Mayor Bertrand Delanoë to make Paris more environmentally friendly. This is a spectacular example, and its extensive coverage from traditional news outlets and blogs worldwide are undeniably contributing to the image of a greener Paris. If the pilot program succeeds it will be extended and expanded.

The program is appealing in its reference to the commons of the pre-modern city, where public land was shared, and free-roaming domesticated animals were as commonplace as benches and street lamps. With today’s immense popularity of urban farming, rooftop gardens, and urban chickens, Paris’ urban sheep represent one more step in the complete (re)integration of farms and cities. Looking back to historical uses of cities, but with modern standards for health and safety, we can reference the past, and improve it while building the sustainable city of the future.


Cross-posted from the Pop-Up City

Amazingly, this is a project that beautifies public spaces, broadens the services offered by a city, and makes use of the most locally sourced fertilizers possible!

When Nature Calls is a project by Columbus, Ohio based industrial designer Eddie Gandelman. It is a public urinal that uses filtered pee as fertilizer for plants growing in an attached planter. When properly filtered, urine provides a number of essential nutrients that are vital to healthy plant growth.

'When Nature Calls' by Eddie Gandelman

Most urinals are a guaranteed eyesore in public space, cluttering otherwise open squares and adding unwanted odors to the aromas of the city. This design however, not only beautifies the urinal itself, but contributes to the aesthetics of its surroundings, filters urine to be smell-free, while providing a nice, shady oasis for its users.

'When Nature Calls' by Eddie Gandelman

The concept of using urine as fertilizer is nothing new. (Beyond peeing on the shrubs after a night of drinking, gardeners have been doing it for centuries.) But as urban agriculture becomes more of a reality and serious business, and people are becoming more concerned with sourcing materials locally, cities have to come up with systematic ways to gather and distribute useful, locally sourced waste – without having everyone peeing everywhere. Rather than a centralized solution, the When Nature Calls urinal offers individual, site specific resolutions to the question of collecting and reusing human waste.

'When Nature Calls' by Eddie Gandelman

And what about number two: Could solid human waste ever be used to fertilize a cities greenery, or to boost the productivity of urban farms? Composting toilets, though gaining in popularity, are for the most part completely banned in cities around the world. The taboo of poo is, understandably, hard to get over. But given enough time to decompose, humanure is a good source of fertilizer for plants such as trees, where the fruit is grown far from the ground.

Ingenious interventions such as this urinal represent the city’s progression toward a model of a circular economy – where there is no waste, no end to a product’s life cycle and everything can be reused – even pee!