SHHH: The Poopcast (aka S**t and Shame with Shawn)

Join Shawn Shafner (The Puru), performer, activist, and educator for serious but entertaining talk about poop, fecal matters, LGBT shame and other unnameable taboos that clog our bodies, minds, and communities. Shawn and his esteemed guests talk (and might even sing) about taking responsibility for our literal shit and our metaphorical shit, to transform them from waste to resource. It’s time to get our shit together, before it hits the fan.
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May 31, 2018

Disability, gender and sexuality, politics of public space, and intersectional accessibility. Some enchanted conference, across a crowded plate of beans at Sheffield Hallam University, Dr. Charlotte Jones and Dr. Jen Slater discovered a shared passion for poop. One year later, “Around the Toilet” was born, performing collaborative arts-based research on bathrooms as places of inclusion and/or exclusion. Shawn Shafner (The Puru) sits down with the dynamic doo-o to discuss how restrooms can become inaccessible because of age, gender, ability, religion, profession and more, plus the online tools, videos, and corrugated cardboard water closets they created to entice designers towards innovation. Pushing past the "one-stall-fits-all" model, we imagine a compassionate world where every deuce can be dropped with dignity. 

Also mentioned in this episode:

Edinburgh Scotland, Sex Drugs and Activism, PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis), sex categories, gender binary, disability studies, Alison Kafer, Feminist Queer Crip, overlapping identities, oppression, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Norbert Elias, Civilizing Process, Changing Places, Barbara Penner, bladder leash, Victorian toilets, toilet tourism, London Loo Tours, Broadway theater, muslim, truckers lorry drivers, NYU Bobst Library.

Apr 3, 2018

Human-centered design, dignified aid, and internet innovation for water / sanitation. Engineer, mother, and communications expert Esther Shaylor introduces Shawn Shafner (The Puru) to the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA), a network of WASH stakeholders and online resources for all. Esther explains how market-based solutions are changing development practices, and we discuss the perils and virtues of Wikipedia, storytelling’s primal power, and why a batch of tasty biscuits is worth its weight in gold.

Also mentioned:

Backpacking, humanitarian, parenting, #MeToo, gender pay gap, engineering, market based approaches, refugee crisis, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Toilet Day, World Water Day, L’oreal, WSUP, The Bottom Line game, WaterAid, Pookemon Go, gamification, e-learning, Policy and Practice, virtual reality

Mar 1, 2018

Taboo-breaking comedy, toilet knives, wiping stones and Jewish perspectives on poop. Celebrities are just like us! Director Aaron Feldman’s new film POOP TALK finally proves it, as Kumail Nanjiani, Eric Stonestreet, Dr. Drew and more divulge the contents of their colons. In this hour with Shawn Shafner (The Puru), Feldman explains how his own sensitive stomach inspired the film, why colon cancer specialists are praising its creation, and how a silly film about poop might also be a profound meditation on our common humanity. Finally, Mama Feldman has reason to be proud. 

Also mentioned:

Sustainability, taboo, comedians as anthropologists, relationships, dating, handling discomfort, Sklar Brothers, Sammi Edelson, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Adam Carolla, Paul Provenza, Penn & Teller, Jewish geography, summer camp, Ramah Conover Wisconsin, Comedy Dynamics, Sephardim, Ashkenazi, chulent, taboo hinders research, Alexander Kira, Reginald Reynolds, Cleanliness and Godliness, Norbert Elias, David Inglis, Microbiome, Stercurius, Seedbed: Soil Symposium UCSC, Confronting Vulnerability: The Body and the Divine in Rabbinic Ethics by Jonathan Wyn Schofer, Gemara, David Walter Taos, Origin of the Feces, Milorganite, Milwaukee, SOIL, Sasha Kramer, container based sanitation, Bill Gates

Jan 30, 2018

Business for social change, avoiding burnout, effective altruism, ineffective development practices, and the UK’s first luxury mobile toilet. The average person spends 80,000 hours working. Water / sanitation engineer Andy Narracott tells host Shawn Shafner how a near-death experience helped shift his 80k hour goals from making money to making change. Andy also hands out pro tips for social entrepreneurs and everybody else gleaned from his podcast Finding Impact. To start: find out your “why.” Hint: it’s probably not to gain more money and buy the latest phone.

Also mentioned:

India, Posh & Bex, Rider cup, Tiger Woods, Gary Glitter, London Fashion Week, Nicaragua, University of Pennsylvania, Center for Social Impact, Global Social Impact House, fulfillment, David Goldberg, Scott Roy, social media, sales, listening, effective giving, charity, Buddhism, mindfulness,, The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer, Christmas Cracker

Dec 31, 2017

Community Led Total Sanitation as colonial hangover, how to poop while on the trail, shoehorning sanitation inside other sectors, and the importance of sunblock. Shawn “The Puru” Shafner spends an hour with anthropologist and Emory University PhD candidate Jennifer Barr. Jennifer spent 13 months living in Delhi and writing case studies of NGOs including Sulabh, India’s toilet-building monolith, and Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), a grassroots organization dedicated to the liberation and rehabilitation of all persons engaged in manual scavenging. It left her wondering: do current international development practices put human dignity and wellbeing at the center of their work? Where might colonial history and modern biases be skewing our attempts to do good? Hear Jennifer’s findings PLUS reasons why NGOs should use the word “shit,” and why the wise stop trying to “change the world” and instead focus on making small, human-centered improvements with gentleness, compassion and love. More from Jennifer on Twitter: @jenniferabarr

Also mentioned in this episode

Stakeholders, diarrheal disease, environmental enteropathy, malnourishment, stunting, CARE International, nutrition, sanitation, UNICEF, MHM, menstrual hygiene management, India Habitat Center, The Great Stink, sanitary revolution, CLTS, roundworm, outhouses, bullying, open defecation, David Inglis, Sociological History of Excremental Experience, Bezwada Wilson, Dalit, caste system, Untouchables, Mierle Ukeles, Rose George, The Big Necessity, World Toilet Summit, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, Rajasthan, Alwar

Sep 27, 2017
Building water infrastructure in Addis Ababa, filtering Flint’s taps to keep kids healthy, and tackling traditional paradigms of where to put your pee. In this episode, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) sits down with Nancy Love--professor, pioneer, engineer and expert who literally wrote the book on Biological Wastewater Treatment. Often the lone woman in a male-dominated field, Nancy recounts how a little girl on the family golf course became one of the most sought-after professors at the University of Michigan, and hypothesizes why women might do a better job of solving humanity's problems. Plus, we’ll tour a centralized Wastewater Treatment Plant, appreciate the promise of decentralized sanitation systems, and learn why the National Science Foundation has given her a lot of money to study how urine could fertilize our amber waves of grain. So grab a drink, and an empty cup, and prepare to connect with all the waters around, under and in you. 
Also mentioned in this podcast:
Urine diversion summit, water, sanitation, technology, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, civil engineer, wastewater, stormwater, groundwater, University of Michigan, open defecation, pit latrine, fecal sludge, source separation, infrastructure, septic system, Vermont, Mathew Lippincott, recycling, golf, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, gender equality, Milorganite, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, biosolids, Nitrogen, phosphorous, carbon, Virginia Tech, Chesapeake Bay, grit, Clean Water Act, aeration, bacteria, sustainable resource recovery, microbial fuel cell, bioelectrolysis, Sashti Balasundaram, WE Radiate, Kim Nace, Abe Noe-Hays, fertilizer, struvite, Haber-Bosch
Jul 31, 2017

What happens when you take a bunch of artists and put them together in a beautiful house in rural Vermont with a shared schedule dedicated to creativity? The Art Monastery Project. While in-residence at the monastery, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) hosts a roundtable of “Artmonks” at their finest. St. Francis, King Solomon, Buddha and a bunch of Rabbis all appear, alongside bat guano, bugs, and indigenous wisdom. Plus Abbess and co-founder Betsy McCall passes on a blessing to say when peeing on the planet. Core member Raphael Sacks explains why he's been sprinkling coyote urine on the garden. Voice doula Kaitlin June sings the blessings of our odor-free dry toilet, and chef Emma Wyman pitches in to thank the Muse. Holy shit? You bet your art.


Also mentioned:

Anaya Cullen, costume designer, Neva Cockrell, Gerry McCulloch, Goldsmith’s University, pirkei avot, physical theater, alternative lifestyle, spiritual practice, community living, painting, video, Aberdeen Farm, maple syrup, plant genetics, beer, sausage, Eco Institute at Pickards Mountain, Diogenes of Sinope, ascetic, urinal, pee recycling, urine diversion, humanure, humus, hummus, Rich Earth Institute, Kim Nace, Abe Noe-Hays, tangaryo, menstruation, Joel and Michelle Levy, Integratron, Mojave Desert, urine as fertilizer, Nitrogen, woodchuck repellent, nun’s cap, Carol Steinfeld, Mathew Lippincott, Bootstraps, Earthdance Massachusetts, contact improv, race, class, transforming the shit, purity, impurity

Jun 30, 2017

Legalizing green sanitation, kite safety through cartwheels, coming back from serious crisis, and all the ways your shower can kill you. In this special live episode, polymath Mathew Lippincott enlightens Shawn Shafner (The Puru) with his encyclopedic knowledge of everything. A designer who creates future technologies influenced by history, Mathew tells us how he helped create Portland’s emergency sanitation protocol, worked with RECODE to make compost toilets a legal option, and takes us under the leach field to see why most septic tank users are pooping straight into their aquifers. PLUS Shawn tells stories of his travels in Nicaragua, reveals the origins of “justify your existence,” we redeem the value of outside defecation, and learn why it might be best to hold your breath the next time you visit a PortaPotty.

Also mentioned in this episode:

West Side Story, lunar colony, industrial design, University of Pennsylvania, Center for Social Impact, Global Social Impact House, Nicaragua, crisis, Joseph Campbell, hero’s journey, the origins of justify your existence, privilege, poverty, El Porvenir, Public Lab, crowdsource data, Deepwater Horizon, presence, safety, Kite Man, Portland, Oregon, airline travel, REN Project, Wayne RESA, curriculum development, Michigan, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Guerilla Science Group, Oregon Eclipse Festival, shower, sink, low-flow toilet, design object, Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World, basic human needs, consumer society, James Hennessey, How Things Don’t Work, unbalanced mixer valves, pressure valves, intentional community, bucket toilet,Molly Jean Winter (née Danielsson), sepsis, Art Monastic Laboratory, bucket system, majority world country, libraries, ARPANET, OhioLINK, apocalypse, interlibrary loan, Clara Greed, Alexander Kira, Joel Tarr, Carnegie Mellon, Cloacina, Cloaca, Rome, portable compost toilet, Henry Moule, Australia, Natural Event, Pootopia, Hamish Skermer, green, sustainability, Adam Rome, Bulldozer in the Countryside, primary treatment, scum, leach field, aquifer, laminar flow, Pacific NorthWest College of Art, Neighborhood Emergency Training, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, emergency sanitation, citizen science, Uniform Plumbing Code, Rich Earth Institute, 20/20 Engineering, Greywater Action, Laura Allen, Watershed Management Group, John Grey, Interface Engineering, Nicole Cousino, Nature’s Commode, International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), Green Supplement, American National Standards Institute (ANSI), WE Stand (Water Efficiency), public domain, NorthWest Permaculture Convergence, open defecation, family restroom

May 31, 2017

Sustainable menstruation management, exploding the privilege to pee standing up, queering the country through relocation, and how to make money with minimal misery. In this episode, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) communes with Krista Eickmann, whose passion for menstrual cups and urine diverters once had her proselytizing these products straight from her purse to friends, family, and strangers on the bus. Reduce waste, remove the threat of toxic shock, and pee through your pants’ fly without removing layers of clothes or dropping full trou in the middle of the woods? They practically sold themselves. And now, thanks to the internet and The pStyle Company, anyone can go online and share Krista’s love for “plastic crotch devices.” Join in for a generous hour detailing the genesis of menstrual devices, rapidly bleeding into the economics of reuse, how much is “enough,” and why everyone deserves a range of options to express themselves and expel their bladders. So come on out of whatever closet you’re in, grab a stranger, and stand up (or sit down) for an hour in your power.

Also mentioned in this episode:

Trash, waste, environment, sustainability, shame, environmental, activist, keeper, Leona Chalmers, tampon, pads, consumerism, disposable, zine, allergy, Joseph Gayetty, toilet paper, Scott, Waldorf, period, counterculture, Lou Crawford, Tassaway, SASE, Walmart. Rite-Aid, vagina, cunt, vulva, pussy, Tennessee, goat milk, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, South, transgender, FTM, identity politics, community, cisgender, Miki Agrawal, Thinx, Luna Pads, misogyny, feminist, excess, freelax, pissoir, urinal, bourdalou, Indiegogo, penis envy, hypospadias, Standing Up, manneken pis, Marie-Anne Gillet, Isabelle Gilboux, Transhealth conference, Sex for Smart People, S. Ryan Johnstone, genderful, BBC, human right, Rich Earth Institute, Vermont, dirt, transphobia, racism.

Apr 26, 2017

Got some peanut shells, banana peels, and old newspapers? Then you might also have the power to generate renewable enegy, fight coastal erosion, control heavy metals, increase civic participation, create nourishing soil, and much more. That’s the magic of compost! Join Shawn Shafner (The Puru) and Sashti Balasundaram, eco-educator and entrepreneur behind WeRadiate, for a bewitching episode that explains how recycling our food scraps can reduce landfill loads, create green jobs, and save all of us money. Just in time for International Compost Awareness Week (May 7-13), this episode offers everything you need to start your own bin. So start saving those shells; it’s time to save the world.


Also mentioned in this episode:

Ecological consciousness, waste management, compost, recycling, “farm to table”, India, pondicherry, Life of Pi, Yann Martel, French, Tamil, NGO, “non-governmental organization”, Shuddham, cleanliness, food scraps, worm bin, soil amendment, cycle, rats, Department of Health, decomposition, planting, community garden, farmer, scientist, science, Carl Mehling, American Museum of Natural History, AMNH, puppet, scientific method, temperature, moisture, nitrogen, carbon, sugar, microorganisms, energy, thermometer, Vermont, greenhouse, animal pens, Rwanda, Pivot Works, biochar, methane, bokashi, Department of Sanitation, NYC, New York City, landfill, Freshkills, Staten Island, horticulture, chemical fertilizer, anthropogenic, aerobic, anaerobic, entrepreneur, raised beds, Rich Earth Institute, pharmaceuticals, compost tea, 462 Halsey Street Garden, human poop, humanure, vermicompost, Flush, Karina Mangu-Ward, biosolids, pathogens, dirt, soil, libertarian, hyper=local loop, green jobs, GrowNYC, Lower East Side Ecology Center, Milorganite, vermicasting, red wrigglers, Jim’s Worm Farm,, ILSR, Institute for Local Self Reliance, NYC Compost Project, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Queens Botanical Garden

Mar 31, 2017

Passion or paycheck, profession or play, beauty or the butt? We tackle the art world’s opposing objectives to redeem or exploit our excrement, the politics of status (and Brad Pitt’s pet rat), the importance of whimsy, and how every poo has a story to tell. Join Shawn Shafner (The Puru) in conversation with Dan Roberts from the National Poo Museum on the Isle of Wight, just south of London. Imagine a room full of polished crystal balls lit beautifully from below, and inside each floats a delicate turd. Created by the Eccleston George art collective, Dan charts the museum’s journey from the Swedish elk pat that started it all, to the BBC reporter who made it legit by harvesting meerkat scat on TV. An odd collection of crystal-balled caca becomes so much more by reminding us that anything--no really, anything--may just be possible after all.

Also mentioned in this episode:

NYU Tisch, An Inconvenient Poop, Nigel George, Sweden, shameful shitter, chronic constipation, starving artist, cognitive dissonance, taboo, shock, death, mummies, community-based sculpture, tricycle, Portugal, Mary Overlie, Viewpoints, Anne Bogart, original anarchist, doing the unnecessary, impulse, New School, Anthropology, judgment, Flux, tattoos, risk-averse, social contamination, sociology, anthropology, Roland Barthes, William Ian Miller, Anatomy of Disgust, Karen Finley, queen of dung, resin, social release, matter out of place, Victorian era, diapers, incontinence, International Women's Day, international sanitation crisis, menstruation, Delhi, open defecation, zoo, sharing economy, bird pellet, cloaca, uric acid, microbiome, co-evolution, Scientific American, data manipulation, pigeon poo, Nitrates, stoma, stigma, Marcel Duchamp, fountain, Sigmund Freud, Paul Spinrad, Re:Search Guide to Bodily Fluids, nose picking, IBS, Crohn's, fecal transplant, transgender access, library

Feb 28, 2017

In this Dinosaur-sized episode, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) joins paleontologist Carl Mehling for a deep dive into fossilized dung (called “coprolites”), the scientific method, and why truth is often controlled by the storytellers. Wanna borrow a bone from the American Museum of Natural History? Carl’s your man. We’ll go behind the scenes at the museum to understand how scientists study and share prehistoric resources, get the inside scoop on how fossils are formed, and learn what they reveal about the past, present and future. You’ll also get Carl’s tips for foraging wild food, loving your bacteria, and moving through knee-jerk resistance to open the door for wisdom. So settle into your teeny-tiny corner of the ever-expanding universe, grab a shovel, and let’s get digging!

Also mentioned in this podcast:

Senior Scientific Assistant, Vertebrate Fossil Amphibians, Reptiles, and Birds, Horatio Alger, Dinos After Dark, public liaison, methodology, Annie Levy, Higgs-Boson, order, chaos, research, guts, poop, microbiome, ecosystem, germs, Jessica Richman, uBiome, Mierle Ukeles, Queens Museum, sanitation, crocodile, turtle, mastodon, 3D scan, fermentation, bacteria, fecal transplant, Clostridium dificile, C. diff, Peterson Guide to Edible Wild Plants, urine, Steve Brill, hoshigaki, Central Park, Prospect Park, Staten Island, cololite, hematite, colon, preservation, Scipionyx, La Brea tar pits, Ice Age, Doomsday Clock, b’tzelem elohim, Judaism, Zen Buddhism, Neanderthals, colonialism, hominids, bias, Leonardo da Vinci, inclusion, carnivore, herbivore, wombat, dung beetle, Tyrannosaurus Rex, T-Rex, anus, Permian, dicynodont, mammal latrine, ghost shrimp, whale, wastewater treatment, Phosphorous, Nitrogen, Triceratops, Jurassic Park, matrix, gut flora, Moa, protozoan cysts, Cretaceous, meteorite, paleobotany, petrified wood, silica, Buddha, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, poudrette, musk, ambergris, perfume, coprophage, caddis fly, eyelash mite, arthropod, parasite, commensal, symbiont, coprophis, #ResistTheEww

Jan 27, 2017

In this fast-paced hour, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) sits down with water and wastewater governance expert Raul Pacheco-Vega for a discussion that leapfrogs from the culture of flushing and bottled water, to the politics of poverty and what it means to pick trash for a living. Remember that kid who took their ball and went home when they didn’t get their way? Little Raul wanted to know how to keep the game going. Two Masters degrees, one PhD (with a double major in political science and human geography), and 15,848 Twitter followers later, Raul is one of the world’s foremost experts on sharing. He takes a holistic approach to studying how and why people, communities and governments do or don’t cooperate, and the tension caused by our competing desires to both shun the stranger and work together. You’ll also find out Raul’s number one secret for being productive, how he “obviously” drank sewer water, and why fear may be the worst advisor of all.


Also mentioned in this podcast:

Assistant Professor, Public Administration Division of the Centre for Economic Research and Teaching, CIDE (Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas, CIDE, AC), Aguascalientes, Mexico, Political Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, Human Geography, Chemical Engineer, closed system of recirculation, solution to pollution is dilution, EPA, Jamie Benidickson, University of Ottawa, Barbara Penner, Bathroom, Elinor and Vincent Ostrom, Common Pool Resources (CPR), Nobel prize, public policy, recycling, queer identities, dignity of a toilet, India, Donald Trump, Jurassic Park, Cristina Guggeri, Sarah Jewitt, geographies of shit, waste categories and continuums, valuable vs nonvaluable, production vs excretion, bio-political undertones, Daniel Gerling, Cuba, Mao Zedong, hazardous waste, landfill, NIMBY, informal settlement, slum, negative commons, single stream recycling, compassion, open defecation, Joshua Reno, health, human right to water, Jack Sim, World Toilet Day, Institutional Analysis and Development Framework, Social Ecological Systems Framework, Urine Diversion Summit, Rich Earth Summit, Lillian Volat, cewas Middle East, Syria, Palestine, Bill Gates, omni-processor, social media

Dec 27, 2016

In 2005, Professor Olga Gershenson sent out a call for academic papers on public toilets--"the holy of holy for nerds." Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender, the book that resulted, virtually created the toilet studies field. But along with the nerds, geeks and dweebs who answered the call came bigots who slandered the premise and Gershenson personally via internet, mail and fax machine (remember 2005?). In this hour, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) chats with Gershenson about this experience and her work documenting Restroom Revolution, a student group on the UMass Amherst Campus fighting for transgender-friendly unisex bathrooms in 2001. We'll break down how this incident was a bellwether of things to come, why unisex restrooms would make all our lives better, and what you can do to help usher in a new era of life, liberty, and single stalls for all.

Also mentioned: Cultural Studies, discourse analyst, alt-right, kulturkampf, academic policing, homophobia, glory hole, university politics, Bridgewater State University, University of Massachusetts UMass Amherst, Restroom Revolution, Transparent, Jill Soloway, Jeffrey Tambor, bathroom, Harvey Molotch, Laura Noren, campus, unisex, gender neutral, gender non-conforming, buddhist mantra, Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Erving Goffman, backstage, urinal, potty parity, civil rights, disability, bladder, plumbing code, glass ceiling, Simone de Beauvoir, Manneken Pis, Standing Up, Alexander Kira, Reginald Reynolds, Donald Trump

Nov 19, 2016

What do you call a woman who’s not at home, and needs a private place to pee? A “public woman,” or “prostitute.” At least that’s what London’s men thought at the turn of the 20th Century. How far have we come? This World Toilet Day (Nov 19), Shawn “The Puru” Shafner talks with Barbara Penner, pedigreed architectural history expert*, feminist, and prolific toilet academic. Wanna know more about that space we call Bathroom? She literally wrote the book, along with many others. From Victorian women who peed covertly in church pews, to the tinkle sprinkle left on the toilet seat, join us for a wide-reaching conversation that unpacks the politics of who gets to pee, and where. Then stop chipping away at the glass ceiling, and turn your hammer to the urinal.

*“Senior Lecturer in Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London”

Also mentioned: UCL, Le Corbusier, built environment, Social justice, Accessibility, Women's rights, Gender rights, Olga Gershenson, Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender, bladder, Christina Irene, adult diapers, Canada, UK, Niagara Falls, Athens, cistern, Beatriz Colomina, Sexuality and Space, Camden Town, George Bernard Shaw, public baths, New York City, NYC, transgender access, class, Louis Bourdaloue, muff, menstruation, MHM, work, George Waring, privacy, Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, potty training, taboo, Alexander Kira, infrastructure systems, Cornell University, Center for Housing and Environmental Studies, American Standard, NYU, Laura Noren, Harvey Molotch, unisex

Nov 3, 2016

Faster than a speeding bowel! More powerful than a laxative! Able to leap small-minded men in a single bound! In this episode, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) sits down with real-life Superwoman Christina Irene: writer, trainer, stand-up comedian, and a powerful advocate for women's empowerment and those with invisible disabilities. Did I mention that she also has IBS, suffered laxative dependence while on tour, helped grandma shop for colostomy bag accessories, AND sits on the board of her local Sewer Authority? Yeah. That, too. Join in for a truly super-sized conversation covering everything from identity politics to Brazilian bidets, and why the secret to happiness just might be coming out of whatever closets we're in. 

Also mentioned: American standard, industrial musicals, my bathroom, strawberry blonde, happiness advocate, speaker, Benjamin Jaeger Thomas, skateboard, entrepreneur, APCA, Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities, bad marriage, chauvinism, Lisa Lewis, Schooled, squatty potty, selling out, product placement, sexuality, showcase, taboo, Sikh, Navpreet Sachdev, immigration, slam poetry, national coming out day, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, self-censor, compassion, stigma, menstruation, world toilet day, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's, vilification, disgust, bloating, gas, constipation, bulimia, anal douching, enemas, colonic, Janet Jackson, stoma, urostomy, Girls with Guts, paruresis, shy bladder, Rand McNally road atlas, nursing home smell, Walmart, Backyardigans, Susquehanna river, Clean Water Act, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, exchange credits, planning commission, MS4, stormwater authority, flushable wipes

Sep 30, 2016

This past August, Shawn Shafner traveled to Brattleboro, VT to join Urine Diversion Summit 2016—a conference brimming with pee-ple making waves over how we “make water.” While The Puru didn’t want to disrupt the flow, he was able to divert a few participants away from micturation and into the microphone for some short interviews. Thus: The Lil’ Tinklers.

In Part 2, wee-wee will learn about how shaking the dew off your lily can affect the frogs on their pads, and how wastewater treatment plants are struggling to keep up with the stream. First we’ll meet Rachel Mullen, a graduate student in environmental analytical chemistry. She partners with the Rich Earth Institute to study what percentage of the pharmaceuticals that leave your body in pee (HINT: a lot) are taken up by peas, lettuce, and other vegetables (HINT: not very much). Then we’ll chat with Dan Marks, mild-mannered wastewater engineer by day, subversive urine-separating enthusiast by night. He’ll explain how 1972’s Clean Water Act brought centralized sewage into the modern age, why we’re now falling dangerously behind, and what even greater threats may lie just beyond the horizon. But don’t get pissed off! Instead pop a Xanax, put on the popdcast, and void your body of all anxiety.

Also mentioned: Kim Nace, Abe Noe-Hays, University of Buffalo, molecular, crops, wee wee, morphine, caffeine, iopamide, toxicology, parts per billion, FDA, sex toys, tampons, acetominophen, dosage, metabolism, effluent, menstruation, hormone replacement therapy, research funding, discomfort, Louis C. K., Buddhism, suffering, Freakonomics radio, cardiology, good Jew, flannel, aging infrastructure, “end of its useful life,” pipes, upgrade, regulation, regulatory burden, EPA, DEP, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, primary, secondary, tertiary, organic matter, bacteria, digestion, fixed, fluid, media, discharge, suspended solids, capital costs, operations, “contaminants of emerging concern,” personal care products, Blinky the fish, The Simpsons, Daniel Gerling, Flush documentary, autonomy, technology, science

Sep 29, 2016

This past August, Shawn Shafner traveled to Brattleboro, VT to join Urine Diversion Summit 2016—a conference brimming with pee-ple making waves over how we “make water.” While The Puru didn’t want to disrupt the flow, he was able to divert a few participants away from micturation and into the microphone for some short interviews. Thus: The Lil’ Tinklers.

In Part 1, wee-wee will learn about how eco-toilet systems succeed, and why they sometimes don’t. First, we’ll meet Daniella Saetta and Hannah Ray, two women diving unabashedly into the urinal to understand how the minerals in your pee clog up the pipes. With their help, we can put these nutrients to use and keep waterless pissoirs on the walls. Then we’ll be joined by Cat Bryars, a regional planner recently returned from a year in Oaxaca, Mexico. While there on a Fulbright, she studied how entire cities were hooked up to urine-diverting compost toilets, why they were eventually abandoned, and how these lessons can help us roll out sustainable toilets in sustainable ways. So grab a glass, sit back, and shower your ears with gold!

Also mentioned: Rich Earth Institute, Kim Nace, Abe Noe-Hays, Lab, bathroom, volume, fertilizer, Dr. Treavor Boyer, Arizona State University, University of Florida, Potable water, Urea, Urease, Calcium, Magnesium, Urethra, Hydrolize, kidney stones, Ammonia, nutrient recovery, nitrogen, phosphorous, triple bond, struvite crystals, Colombia, male privelege, penis, vagina, pStyle, funnel, StandUps, Cesar Añorve, UD, pit latrine, fecal pathogens, Falmouth, Cape Cod Eco Toilet Center, regional planner, decentralized sanitation, scale up, perceived legitimacy, residuals, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Aug 16, 2016

What do you get when you mix 5,000 gallons of urine and 5 acres of hay? It might just be the future of our food. In this episode, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) talks to Kim Nace, co-founder of the Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, where hundreds of local citizens collect their pee for science. But this is no kids stuff--the Rich Earth Institute is blazing a new trail and quickly gaining the attention of big-name foundations, National Geographic, and even the US Government. Tune in to understand why our pee is polluting the planet, how we can turn that waste into a resource, and what your tax dollars are doing to help. Soon morning tinkle will be music to your ears...

Also mentioned in this podcast: Abraham Noe-Hays, poop, pee, World Toilet Day, United Nations, Uzbekistan, Vermont, Rose George, The Big Necessity, waterless sanitation systems, nutrient reclamation, Sanitary revolution, Coney Island, wastewater treatment plant, Brooklyn Historical Society, Clean Water Act 1972, factory farming, depletion of Phosphorous, peak phosphorous, urine nutrient reclamation project, community-scale, pasteurization, wastewater treatment plant discharge, urinals, pissoir, sterility, pathogen-free, urine diverting toilets, vacuum flush toilets, composting dry toilet, ergonomic design, Carol McCreary, PHLUSH, Portland, Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human, primary, secondary, tertiary, toilet to tap, Class A sludge or biosolids, agricultural runoff, algae, algal blooms, stormwater runoff, swale, alienation, manure, ammonia uptake, tile drains, soil, agribusiness, waterlog, human waste, design, infrastructure, pharmaceutical, caffeine, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, volume reduction, Sasha Kramer, SOIL Haiti, Sanergy, bioregion, An Inconvenient Poop, prozac on shrimp, estrogen, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, Kenya, nutrient flow, topsoil, golden shower, greywater, biodigester, stakeholders, Water Environment Research Foundation, EPA, USDA, National Geographic, liquid gold, Carol Steinfeld, World Health Organization

Jun 23, 2016

When is a five gallon bucket of poop more than just a five gallon bucket of poop? In this episode, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) s(h)its down with Sasha Kramer, co-founder and Executive Director of SOIL, and engineer/academic Kory Russel of re.source. Their Container Based Sanitation model is creating health and wealth in Haiti--one five gallon composting toilet at a time. We’ll discuss the energetic content of a lump of poop, delve into the roots of waste-making culture, and find out how SOIL harnesses the power of ecosystems to address basic human needs during a steamy discussion about “liberation ecology.” Ohhhhh, yeahhhhhhh.

Also mentioned in this podcast: University of Oregon Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Studies Program, Sebastien Tilmans, Codiga Resource Recovery Center at Stanford University, Sarah Brownell, resource recovery center, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge, Container Based Sanitation (CBS), Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, international sanitation crisis, urban dictionary, human rights observer, poverty, arbor loo, ecological sanitation, ecosan, compost, water-based sanitation, chicken manure, dairy farm, biogas, resource to waste, liberation ecology, liberation theology, industrial revolution, trash archaeology, creative waste, conspicuous consumption, The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, solution to pollution is dilution, engineers, bird watchers, Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough, excreta, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Carbon, sewers, Rich Earth Institute, urine recycling, public health, urine-diverting toilet, social business development, bottom of the pyramid investing, generating value, Ashoka fellow, Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, urban slums, SUSANA, sustainable sanitation alliance, Rwanda, poverty tourism, EkoMobil, EkoLakay, portapotty, Hamish Skermer, Natural Event, ghostbusters, thermophilic composting, cholera, typhoid, pathogens, Amsterdam, shelf toilet, trichinosis, World Toilet Summit, American Standard, INAX, Jenna Davis, open defecation, shame, pride, modernity, Port au Prince, Malawi

May 17, 2016

There’s so much happening in our underwear zone: poop, pee, period blood. And Miki Agrawal is tackling them all, with a side of vegan, gluten-free, farm-to-table pizza. This week, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) sits down with the serial entrepreneur and creator of Wild pizzerias, Thinx period underwear, Icon incontinence underwear, Tushy attachable bidets and an empowering guide to living your dream called Do Cool Sh*t. Amidst bites of kale, Miki and Shawn ask the big questions: how can science, humor, sex, sustainability and design help us change taboo narratives and sell products? Why does it take the average woman 7 years to admit to her doctor that she’s suffering from urinary incontinence? How much exactly is two tampons’ worth of blood? Does one measure that in milliliters? Tune in and quench your thirst for knowledge.

Also mentioned in this podcast: nourishment, Park Slope, Williamsburg, stomach aches, comfort food, menstruation, tampon, pad, soccer, feminine hygiene, grapefruit, Pamela Anderson, advertising, marketing, NYC, MTA, subway, ovulation, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, Depends, Poise, banana leaf, reusable applicators, Be Creative, Fox News, Sex for Smart People, Stephanie Johnstone, Bustle, male penetration, gentle loving, Waldorf, toilet paper, Scott, 1890 Joseph Gayetty, Toto washlet, Re-Search Guide to Bodily Fluids, Paul Spinrad, nose-picking, boogers, hemorrhoids, SquattyPotty, squat toilets, anal sex, poo-pourri, Shambhala Center, Shastri Ethan Nichtern, instagram, incontinent pride, gender, anxiety, branding, aesthetic, design, communication, empowering vs uncomfortable, AfriPads, Uganda, New York Magazine

Apr 26, 2016

Sex and poop. Both are natural parts of having a body. Both can be intensely pleasurable. And both are rich boiling pots of shame and cultural baggage. Which is why The Puru has teamed up with S. Ryan Johnstone and Dave McGee of Sex for Smart People* (*that means you) to bring you this very special episode tackling the mother of all modern taboos. Join us for a thoughtful, compassionate, super-honest and often hilarious hour addressing anal sex, safe scat play, and how looking at your toilet paper might just make you a better lover. Did I mention there’s a whale choir? Oh yeah. There’s a whale choir. Plus even more Sex for Smart People* at

Also mentioned in this episode: Victorian taboos, empowerment, grotesque body, civilizing process, normalizing culture, gender, sexuality, advice, gay, heteronormative culture, queer, frottage, Roman pederasty, cunnilingus, labels, sexual scripts, analingus, rimming, douching, health, risk assessment, stigma, therapy, fisting, Purity and Danger by Mary Douglas, sociology, dirt, status, “different kind of delicious,” polyurethane sheets, prude vs slut, dungeon, Chashama, Anatomy of Disgust by William Ian Miller , Marquis de Sade, matter out of place, Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, vulnerability, body odor, Josephus, Essenes, sanitary revolution, Thinx, menstruation, Tushy bidet, Dreck Apotheke by Christian Paullini, Buddha, fecal transplants, microbiome, North Carolina, transgender bathroom, social barriers, LaGuardia airport, House of Representatives, feminism, potty parity, giardia, diaper play, Anal Pleasure and Health by Jack Morin, shadow, iTunes, humpback whales, the bends, composer, Shawn Shafner

Mar 22, 2016

Might the way to enlightenment just be through your anus? In this episode, The Puru cozies butt-up with Amanda Miller--writer, actor, massage therapist, yogi, and compulsively creative person--in order to investigate the inner alchemy of transforming our shit to gold. Hear how Amanda's trauma became the driving force behind her memoir and solo show One Breath, Then Another, why hemorrhoid cream should be renamed "embarrassment balm," and learn the best position for kegeling your way to nirvana. Try it at home, and let us know how it goes on our social media pages!

Also mentioned in this podcast: compulsion, obsession, artist, eating disorders, BBYO, catharsis, Toilet Hackers, World Toilet Day, self-hatred, Edinburgh International Fringe Festival, sex dungeons, kegels, ashwini mudra, ashram, India, Croft Vaughn, pelvic floor, Anal Pleasure and Health, Jack Morin, Anal-Ese, mind body relationship, stool sample, parasites, microbiome, contagion, compassion, NYC subway, homeless population, Anatomy of Disgust, William Ian Miller, objectification, meat vs. flesh, What’s Your Poo Telling You?, Anish Sheth, Josh Richman, anally expressive, Sigmund Freud, Loo Lady Rachel Erickson, Allen Ginsberg, sphincter, Ganges, People’s Improv Theater, Nuyorican, Elmer Rice, Real Body Library

Feb 16, 2016

Constipated? Take relief: it's probably not because your sphincter is too tight. In this month's episode of SHHH, The Puru sits down with Dr. Daniel Gerling, Assistant Professor at Augustana University and perhaps the foremost expert on poop history in the United States (who else could write the dissertation, "American Wasteland: A Social and Cultural History of Excrement, 1860-1920"?). Hear Danny explain why American occupiers collected over 120,000 jars of Filipino feces, how the demodex (eyelash mite) may be the only creature that doesn't poop, and why sphincter expanders were recommended as a cure for constipation in the early 1900s. Put down that fork--this is one fascinating hour you might not want to eat through.


Also mentioned in this conversation: Thomas Jefferson, Dominique LaPorte, History of Shit, Tlazolteotl, Austin TX, John G. Bourke, Scatologic Rites of All Nations, Sigmund Freud, colonialism, Henry Moule, earth closet, flush toilet, Cuban occupation, Filipino occupation, Inner Hygiene, James C. Whorton, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, The Bathroom, Alexander Kira, taboo, auto-intoxication, Dillo Dirt, Harvey Kellogg, Sylvester Graham, Road to Wellville, Horace Fletcher, Gulp , Mary Roach, Alexis St. Martin, Everyone Poops, Taro Gomi, Rose George, The Big Necessity, LooWatt, SOIL Haiti, Patricia Arquette, miasma, persimmons, hoshigaki, Nicolas Guillen

Jan 12, 2016

Wanna know how your floating ball cock measures up? In this episode, Shawn “The Puru” Shafner sits down with Rachel “The Loo Lady” Erickson. Rachel spent the past few years leading critically-acclaimed Loo Tours in London. Now back in the States, The Loo Lady explains how her unwillingness to pay-per-pee led to a full time job in the john, and trades toilet stories with The Puru, from ancient Rome through Medieval Europe and the modern day. Oh, and if you want to check out someone’s floating ball cock, just look inside their toilet tank! Thomas Crapper may not have invented the modern toilet, but he is often credited with inventing that unfortunately-named flushing mechanism.

Also mentioned in podcast: toilet, church, Shakespeare, toilet-themed restaurant, Sir John Harington, Metamorphosis of Ajax, communal Roman toilets, history of sanitation, Old Testament, Deuteronomy, bidet, sqat vs. sit, Queen Elizabeth, fart, Martin Luther, constipation, public health, social behavior, Edinburgh International Fringe Festival, theater, theatre, triggers for change, Groom of the King’s Close Stool, Bloomberg, Maimonides, Dave Praeger, branding, press, toilet dating, Flushed With Pride, Lava Mae San Francisco

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