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Diaper lawns

Grow grass, feel good.
  [vote for,

Disposable diapers are amazing. The polyacrylamide filler can absorb huge quantities of water. They also account for considerable amounts of landfill, since a baby can go thru several in a day. Many trashed diapers just have a little pee on them.

Polyacrylamide is used to improve soil water absorption in dry and sandy regions. It is fairly expensive when purchased for this use (see link). Why not use old diapers to condition the soil?

Used diapers would be ground up, mixed with soil, then spread out as a substrate before laying sod. Diaper grindings could also be used to mix with soil when ploughing a crop field (non food crops only, to appease baby germ fearers) in dry regions where water is at a premium. Diapers would either be gathered via a recycling effort, or more practically would be collected at day cares and places where diaper wearers congregate. Any waste matter in the diaper would just be added fertilizer for the greenery.

bungston, Jul 08 2003

Polyacrylamide gel for yard use http://www.biconet.com/soil/hydrogel.html
Costy! [bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Your baby's poo http://www.babycent.../refcap/551926.html
[FarmerJohn, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Diapers in the desert http://www.nytimes....en=b46ea44ec4c42605
Probably they will use fresh, not recycled polyacrylamide. [bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       The mere thought of grinding up used diapers boggles my mind beyond further comment.
DrCurry, Jul 08 2003

       he seems to have done his research. why is baby shit green? never understood that. +1
po, Jul 08 2003

       Po - the same as geese, due to their constant grazing.
hob, Jul 08 2003

       po - poo link
FarmerJohn, Jul 08 2003

       Subject to government health approval (+)
silverstormer, Jul 08 2003

       my baby's poo is not green, po. She's still breast feeding, and it's brownish yellow with light yellow chunks, like mustard seeds. My 2 yr old's poo did turn green, po, after he started getting some formula, so that might be your answer. [+]
oxen crossing, Jul 08 2003

       wish I did not ask :(
po, Jul 08 2003

       [T]ango [M]ike [I]ndigo.
RayfordSteele, Jul 08 2003

       Stand back mr., imagonna hurl.
thumbwax, Jul 08 2003

       It occured to me that the way to accomplish this is the shred the diapers, then immerse them in a vat of warm water, then filter out the insoluble bits. The hydrophilic gel will come out with the water, which can then be dried down before application. This would avoid the problem of dirty little ducks, bears and bits of elastic appearing up from the lawn.
bungston, Nov 09 2003

       This poo (human) can not be used as fertilizer, due to its composition. Poo from a creature which is carnivorous does not breakdown the same way as vegetarian creatures' poo. This is why we use cow poo and pig poo to fertilize our gardens, and not dog poo (their food contains meat and other animal products) or dinosaur poo. Hey, all this talk about poo is making me hungry.   

       Also, what kind of "crops" would be grown in these fields that wouldn't be edible?
longdecember79, Jul 21 2004

       My understanding is that most diapers and tampons use carboxymethylcellulose, which is extremely absorbent, but does not like to give up the moisture once absorbed. It is not like a sponge. You'd have to separate out the polyacrylamide ones out, but it could work.   

       When I read the title, I immediately pictured a special valve on the back of the clothes washing machine. When you wash out cloth diapers, you flip a switch and the poopy wash-water goes out into the lawn as fertilizer. however, untreated sewage is not really fertilizer, so scratch that idea. Plus, the SMELL!
musicator, Jul 21 2004

       [ld79] Our local sewage treatment plant has bags of dried, um, *stuff* available to be purchased as garden fertiliser.   

       I presume most of this would be of human origin...
philmckraken, Jul 22 2004

       Folk, folks - its not the poo but the polymer that is desirable here!
bungston, Jul 22 2004

       // I can think of another reason we don't use dinosaur poo as fertiliser//
I nominate that as Anno of the Week.
krelnik, Jul 22 2004

       //what kind of "crops" would be grown in these fields that wouldn't be edible?//
Oilseed rape for bio-diesel, sugar beet for bio-ethanol, wood for construction.
angel, Jul 23 2004

       um.. I wish there was a good use for diapers.
dentworth, Jul 23 2004

       Seeing as aesthetics in unvisited places doesn't matter, there might be a better way. Instead of spending money chopping them up, glue them together.   

       A carpet of nappies, brown side down, would make an excellent mulch for a firewood spinney. If you're watering them, you cut your bills; if they're desert trees, you're just helping them along.   

       The white surface would reflect radiation; the polymer patches would slow the rate of loss of soil moisture.   

       I think that in the charcoal-making process/ barbeques, you'd recover some phosphates with the ash.   

       Of course this would all take a long time, but maybe one could keep the inputs low enough for that not to matter? In 20 years time you'd have some nice trees to burn, and there wouldn't be many traces of the original mulch.
skoomphemph, Mar 29 2014

       Surely, dinosaur poo would be the rare artisan stonework.
wjt, Mar 30 2014

       //This poo (human) can not be used as fertilizer, due to its composition. Poo from a creature which is carnivorous does not breakdown the same way as vegetarian creatures' poo.//   

       Human or carnivore feces is perfectly fine as fertilizer from a nutrient perspective. The concern is that it is also a great breeding ground for various (pathogenic) bacteria that like to live in the human gut. Therefore it is not recommended in fields where humans will be working or eating the produce.   

       However, if you run it through proper treatment to make sure it is completely composted prior to use (which also heats it enough to kill human compatible bacteria, it is perfectly fine for fertilizer. This does often involve adding some plant based material as a carbon source, which may be what you are thinking of.   

       The other factor that makes herbivore feces more practical is that they produce a lot more of it per animal, owing to the relative inefficiency of a herbivorous diet.
MechE, Mar 31 2014

       Guano would be entirely carnivore-produced, so before synthetic fertilisers the most important source was non-herbivore (but I'm guessing that we share less pathogens with sea birds than with cows.)   

       I seem to remember that early Japan wasted not a single turd. These all went as dung to the fields, and didn't kill everyone off. (I suppose occasionally they got some bug from the practice -- and that assumes there was such a practice.)   

       Just to be on the safe side (and seeing as we have all the wonderful processed fertilisers today for food production), I'd still be inclined to go for the mulch for timber version.   

       To do something of true ecological value, maybe the right thing to grow is tropical hardwoods. Select those that can handle maximum neglect, and at harvest find a way for the people who would've cut them down in the forest to benefit - preferably away from that forest. Swop nappy patches for logging concessions or something.   

       OK so now I've made a facile suggestion that would turn into something horribly complicated; and the Law of Uninteded *Undesired* Consequences (and not just the ordinary unintended ones) would kick in. I almost feel like scrapping the last paragraph, but will settle for autoskepticism instead.
skoomphemph, Mar 31 2014

       This idea doesn't smell good to me
pashute, Apr 01 2014

       Beautifully elegant. However we are already kind of doing this, as those diapers go in landfills, & we commonly grow grass, parks, trees over them for years.   

       That is, until we inevitably turn landfills into mines to harvest rare earth minerals from them.
sophocles, Apr 03 2014


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