This is not a new idea as you can see from the sawdust toilet from Helsinki shown at left and as used over 100 years ago when some people had the idea that polluting water with human waste was wasteful, irresponsible, unhealthy and destructive.
Another article in this week's Time Magazine is interesting from a hands-on cultural standpoint. A Handmade World, Reclaiming Technology for the Masses, explores technology from a different angle. We feel greater comfort from the workings of machines in which we see moving parts and can discern relationships. And so there is a whole genre of novels exploring a more 19th century relationship with machines. From author Scott Westerfeld:
"The Internet is global and seemingly omniscient, while iPods and phones are all microscopic workings encased in plastic blobjects... compare that to a steam engine, where you can watch the pistons move and feel the heat of its boilers. I think we miss that visceral appeal of the machine... Plus, those Victorians dressed a lot better than we do."Perhaps this new subculture will make kids do much more than just dress up funny. What if they became inspired to make things? Steam anyone? What a welcome change that would be... A subculture that aspired toward the hand made, and whose values were based not on outward appearance but on the ability to create.