From an award-winning science journalist, a lively, informative, and humorous deep dive into the future of the toilet—from creative uses for harvested “biosolids,” to the bold engineers dedicated to bringing safe sanitation to the billions of people living without this necessary infrastructure.
Most of us do not give much thought to the centerpiece of our bathrooms, but the toilet is an unexpected paradox. On the one hand, it is a modern miracle: a ubiquitous fixture in a vast sanitation system that has helped add decades to human lifespan by reducing disease. On the other hand, the toilet is also a tragic failure: less than half of the world’s population can access a toilet that safely manages body waste, including many right here in the United States. And it is inefficient, squandering clean water as well as the nutrients, energy, and information contained in the stuff we flush away. While we see radical technological change in almost every other aspect of our lives, we remain stuck in a sanitation status quo—in part because the topic of toilets is taboo.
Fortunately, there’s hope—and Pipe Dreams daringly profiles the growing army of scientists, engineers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and activists worldwide who are overcoming their aversions and focusing their formidable skills on making toilets accessible and healthier for all.
This potential revolution in sanitation has many benefits, including reducing inequalities, mitigating climate change and water scarcity, improving agriculture, and optimizing health. Author Chelsea Wald takes us on a wild world tour from a compost toilet project in Haiti, to a plant in the Netherlands that harvests used toilet paper from sewage, and shows us a toilet seat that can watch your poop for signs of illness, among many other fascinating developments.
Much more than a glorified trash can, the toilet, Wald maintains, holds the power to help solve many of the world’s problems, if only we can harness it.
PRAISE for PIPE DREAMS
"You might be tempted to pooh-pooh the importance of the humble toilet. Don’t! Pipe Dreams shows just how vital toilets are to the future of public health—and does so with charm. Chelsea Wald spans the world, finding laughs and pathos in the surprisingly intricate science of sanitation." —Sam Kean, author of The Disappearing Spoon
"Everybody poops. Pipe Dreams is an utterly delightful and deeply informative investigation into what happens next. Wald takes us around the world to meet waste archeologists, accidental toilet entrepreneurs, and subterranean sanitation workers, all in pursuit of the dream of transforming human waste into a resource. Along the way, she delves into what this most elemental substance reveals—about disease and human health, technology and infrastructure, and equity and access." —Meera Subramanian, author of A River Runs Again
"I could not stop reading Chelsea Wald’s captivating book. Pipe Dreams is full of fascinating facts about toilets and sewage systems. But Pipe Dreams is also about so much more. It’s about the human condition and how we live in the world. Wald doesn’t just discuss the technology of sanitation systems, she also captures the human and cultural aspects that drive how we deal with our shit." —Christie Aschwanden, author of Good to Go
“Toilet humor is one thing, but toilet fact, as digested by skilled science writer Wald, is quite another. . . . A highly informative, well-reasoned call to rethink the throne.” —Kirkus
CONTACTS for PIPE DREAMS
For PIPE DREAMS publicity, contact Alexandra Primiani of Avid Reader Press at alexandra.primiani at simonandschuster.com
For other queries, contact agent Alice Martell of the Martell Agency at afmartell at themartellagency.com or Chelsea Wald with the link in the sidebar.