Your life experiences, your successes and failures build up over the years. But something else builds up as well: your excrement! Although the quantity varies considerably with age, body weight or even a person’s diet, we can estimate more or less the quantity of faecal matter you produce throughout your life. Any idea?
Defecating is a completely normal process, and an essential one at that. After extracting the nutrients from our food and drink, waste products are eliminated from the body in the form of urine and stools. When we are in good health, human stools generally contain around 70% solids and 30% fluids. Depending on people’s personal habits, men and women go to the toilet (we’re not talking about urinating here) on average around once a day, and produce 400 to 500 grams of excrement per day.
After that, you only have to do the maths. Starting with a daily quantity of on average 400 grams, the total production of stools in a week would be around 2.8 kilograms. In one year, a single person would thus produce around 145 kg of excrement -the equivalent of the weight of an adult panda.
In Europe, the average life expectancy for men is 79 years old and for women it is around 85 years old. Thus, a man who lives to be 79 would produce 11,455 kgs of excrement throughout his life, while a woman living to the age of 85 would produce around 12,325 kgs. So ladies, in order to give you a mental picture, all going well, you would produce an amount of stools equivalent to the weight of three adult male hippos.
Remember than nowadays, 4.5 million people in the world do not have access to domestic toilets which safely eliminate their waste products, according to the United Nations. And every year, over 200 million tons of human solid waste goes untreated, and over 90% of used water in developing countries spills directly into the oceans, lakes and rivers.
And another thing: at least 1.8 billion people in the world rely on sources of drinking water that are contaminated by faecal residue. Poor sanitation leads to epidemics and public health emergencies which affect millions of people every year, including numerous children. According to reports from the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund, increased access to drinking water and the development of better sanitation, such as the confinement and treatment of excrement, could prevent around 842,000 deaths every year.