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Urine heaven: speakers push for gardens to go to waste

Humans should be putting their urine and faeces on their gardens, not flushing them away using up the water supply, according to a speaker at today's TEDx Canberra.

The annual event will see 16 handpicked innovators, researchers and artists share their big idea at the National Library of Australia.

Mudgee permaculture educator Nick Ritar will focus on how we waste our waste.

''I'm basically challenging policy makers and educators and engineers and designers to develop a new system for dealing with our waste,'' he said yesterday during a rehearsal.

He would like to see a decentralised system where humans mix their faeces with a carbon source (like woodchips or paper) in a container for nine months (to get rid of pathogens) and then put them on their gardens.

''You are sequestering carbon, you are putting that nutrient back into the cycle that provides for our food and you are using almost no energy at all,'' he said.


Urine would not have to wait, as it is sterile when it comes out of your body, Mr Ritar said. ''It's liquid gold, pure plant food.''

Mr Ritar will be joined on stage by author and artist Emma Magenta, whose animation The Gradual Demise of Phillipa Finch seeks to bridge the gap between technology and emotion. Ms Magenta said yesterday she wanted to encourage people to break ''the habit of self-censorship regarding our emotional life''.

Her website has a function which asks people questions with visual answers, before an artwork appears mirroring their emotional state.

Other speakers include Canberra author Sally Webster, who is calling for a new genre of children's fiction that caters to their desire to travel and learn about other countries, and ADFA academic Stephen Coleman who researches non-lethal weaponry.

The speakers were chosen through a rigorous selection and pitching process. TEDx Canberra curator Steve Collins said about 1500 local volunteer hours had gone into this year's event.

The 300 tickets to TEDx sold out in about 25 minutes last month, with about 250 people left on the waiting list.

Mr Collins said the aim of the talks was to provoke a response from the audience. ''[To] go away just irritated enough to do something about one of the talks they heard.''