Taking the Waste out of Wastewater

I recently watched a video from The New York Times where Paul Rozin, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the idea of using recycled sewage water and turning it into potable drinking water. He presents many reasons as to why people are opposed to it and what the future holds for recycled sewage water.

Converting wastewater into drinking water has recently become a hot topic with more cities considering switching to this process. However, many are opposed to the idea of drinking sewage water, even though it has been purified and is perfectly safe to drink. For most people, the idea of drinking something that was once waste is disgusting to them. The problem with a contagion, Rozin says, is that in people’s minds, once it is in contact, it is always in contact. So in the case of recycled water, people can only think about its origin and what it once was.

As Rozin puts it, this process is safe, efficient, ecologically sound and sensible, yet it’s still offensive. So how do we get people to move past the idea of recycled wastewater and realize that it could help the environment? Rozin mentions a few different theories, one being to convert it into bottled water. The idea of bottled water resonates with many as being pure and safe, so putting a price on water may make people think differently about it. Another way is through the power of influence. Once enough people start drinking it, more and more will follow and eventually people will not even think twice about it.

I’d like to hear from you! What do you think of when you hear the term “recycled sewage water?” Does it sound appealing or appalling? Now, what if I were to tell you that it could increase municipal water supplies up to 27 percent, and it is perfectly safe and clean. Would this sway your opinion? Comment below and let me know what you think!

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