Interviewing the Founder of Ecozoic: André Soares

Robb S.

12/15/18

Andre Soares is the brains behind Ecozoic Resources. He is a visionary designer, educator and social entrepreneur with a life dedicated to prove the viability of sustainable living. As an expert in ecological sanitation and social architecture, Andre was recognized by  Environment Brazil.org as one of the 50 leaders in environmental innovation in the country. As an inventor Andre has developed several  “Social Technologies” awarded by the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology and the Bank of Brazil Foundation such “Humus Sapiens”, the  precursor technology of Ecozoic Biofilter toilets.We kindly set aside some time to answer some questions about Ecozoic. Needless to say, he is very passionate about this issue.

Robb: What inspired you to get into this?

Andre: To make a difference, change the world, and fix these global problems at the root. Sanitation is the root of lots of our problems. We aren’t used to connecting these problems; child mortality, food scarcity, climate change and the quality of life around the world, but if we look back into it, at the reality of whats going on, water is at the center of these issues. If we don’t resolve the reality of waste and sanitation right now, humans will not be able to inhabit the world. In an attempt to make our lives better, we have only solved our problems partially. We have ignored the living web that includes the rivers and the oceans misplacing our “waste.” Why waste what is in fact a resource?

Robb: Where did this journey start for you?

Andre: It started with my basic needs, I solved the problem first for my own home. I started building composting toilets 25 years ago, in an attempt to live sustainably. For me, being a good father meant I had to set an example by living correctly. Living correctly starts without shitting in the wrong place. Eventually I built homes, water systems, going into remote areas of South America, then onto festivals in Portugal and beyond. I wanted to build a festival that was totally sustainable, and worked to transform the event from a small party to large scale model of event with an educational purpose.

Andre Soares is the brains behind Ecozoic Resources. He is a visionary designer, educator and social entrepreneur with a life dedicated to prove the viability of sustainable living. As an expert in ecological sanitation and social architecture, Andre was recognized by  Environment Brazil.org as one of the 50 leaders in environmental innovation in the country. As an inventor Andre has developed several  “Social Technologies” awarded by the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology and the Bank of Brazil Foundation such “Humus Sapiens”, the  precursor technology of Ecozoic Biofilter toilets.We kindly set aside some time to answer some questions about Ecozoic. Needless to say, he is very passionate about this issue.

André Soares Speaking at TEDxAmazonia

Robb: Nobody likes Porta-Pottys, thats just a fact. But it seems like the hidden truth is even worse than we are told. Care to touch on this?

Andre: The port potty industry promotes themselves as being ecological. They brag about saving water. They use less water than toilets at home, but they add lots of chemicals to it. They aren’t changing the cycle of things. They move the shit from an event to a treatment facility and dump it. Same problem as traditional public sewage with the nasty solution from transportation with fossil fuels. Thomas Crap invented the toilet. The queen didn’t want to look at her shit, so he created the water toilet with pipes to take the shit away from the queen. Eventually their technology made its way through the big cities. And at events and worksites, we have the same problem, but it is compounded by the necessity for portability. All the port potty and septic companies do is take it away from you. All they are doing is operating pumps, bypassing the sewage systems. And as you said, the experience is awful.

Robb: It seems like humans have an intrinsic issue with human waste, and thats what is creating this problem. How did that happen?

Andre: We are still pretty much in the dark ages, especially when dealing with our waste. We have taboos for sex and waste. Make up stories to justify our own inadequacies. We are full of taboo. Challenge this convention on you. Waste is a resource we haven’t harnessed it enough. We have the solutions, but we are not dealing with it. We moved the problem away from us, like the Queen did, but we didn’t put it in the right place. Nature does have a place for us. There are billions of micro organisms in one handful of soil, more than all the humans that have ever lived on the planet. These microbes are specific to deal with the waste from terrestrial animals, like us.

Robb: Billions of micro-organisms in a handful of soil. Its a crazy reality. But there are billions of people on the planet now. How do we accommodate for all of our “waste”? Every day the pile gets higher for everybody.

Andre: You want to be responsible for what you do. Take care of your shit. Put your shit together. From day one in life, you are doing it. Find a way to get it back to the soil. Yes we had plagues and disease, we have very high density populations and events. This is where we should be using our intelligence. We have a problem: the density of our population. How can we use our minds to create a solution to put the shit back into the soil in a safe way that is beneficial to the environment?  We need to look into nature. The secret is right there. We have been in the wrong mindset by pushing the problem away from us, like the flushing toilet. Thats why Ecozoic Resources was created. It can account for itself. The only way to deal with it is to understand what it is. Where should we be putting our shit? We need to be putting it into the soil, becoming a resource for plants and possibly food to grow, to close the cycle. Keep it out of the water. What are those micro-organisms doing there? What are they living in the soil for? They have to process what we call waste into a resourceful thing. Thats what they are designed to do. 

Robb: Ecozoic Resources Biofilter Toilets made their public debut at the Eclipse Festival in 2018. It seems like these “Transformative Festivals” are good experiments for this technology. Care to touch on that?

Andre: 20% of people say they don’t go to festivals because of the toilet situation. Thats a fact. When a festival shows that its making an attempt, the crowd becomes very loyal. Crowds at these festivals are expecting every detail to be covered, and thats how Ecozoic fits in. It fits in with their vision of a totally sustainable, symbiotic, regenerative experience. The days of producing events uniquely with the musical line up in mind are almost over. Visionary event producers are starting to understand it and make the necessary adjustments like budgeting for the public perception after the event, especially if they hope to repeat it.

Robb: Do you think other event organizers will follow suit?

Andre: I do. The branding value of our toilets in an event is not yet taken into enough consideration, but its getting better. The promoters are starting to recognise the value of building a total experience to their public. The word is getting out about Ecozoic. People care about the planet, and they despise the Porta-Potty scenario. The promoters ask how much, but if they engage into building their own brand, they understand that investing into good toilet experience is a benefit. For everybody, and they spend  less on damage control.

Andre: The port potty industry promotes themselves as being ecological. They brag about saving water. They use less water than toilets at home, but they add lots of chemicals to it. They aren’t changing the cycle of things. They move the shit from an event to a treatment facility and dump it. Same problem as traditional public sewage with the nasty solution from transportation with fossil fuels. Thomas Crap invented the toilet. The queen didn’t want to look at her shit, so he created the water toilet with pipes to take the shit away from the queen. Eventually their technology made its way through the big cities. And at events and worksites, we have the same problem, but it is compounded by the necessity for portability. All the port potty and septic companies do is take it away from you. All they are doing is operating pumps, bypassing the sewage systems. And as you said, the experience is awful.