Fides Lapidaire and Yanna Hoek – Why human shit is going to save the world

A conversation with Fides Lapidaire and Yanna Hoek, the creators of Holy Shit, a documentary on how our shit can feed the world, about human shit or human treasure as they like to call it, the gap in our circular food system, the need for a mindset shift, the technology needed and more.


We can’t just thoughtlessly keep flushing very precious resources done the drain and pay enormous amounts of money to get it treated and import large amount of chemical fertility from elsewhere. After this interview, your toilet experience will never be the same again!


Fides and Yanna’s documentary is a way to create a platform where there are real answers to underlying questions. It’s not something to laugh about or to feel uncomfortable about, but to think about it as a great alternative to how we do things now, and we should take it seriously.

“It’s a research book from 100 years ago, where Mr King, a scientist from America, goes to the area of China and Japan and Korea and looks at how it’s possible that so many people are being fed here and the soil stays healthy […] And he found out two things. One was, they use their own poo and pee in a very great fast transport system with very hygienic ways […] And secondly, they appreciate their own shit. If you would hand in your shit, you would have to pay less rent.” – Fides Lapidaire

”It’s such a great solution to so many big problems. And it’s something that we all do. Like we are shit producers. In this world where everything is falling apart and you feel hopeless, I can create something myself, I don’t have to do much. I do it every day already. If I eat, right, I can produce soil.” – Fides Lapidaire


Yanna and Fides also work on the ‘Give a Shit’ campaign, and the farmers they work with put up their flag and say ‘shit at our farm, bring your shit, we need it’. More farmers are joining them in this campaign. They see farmers thinking ahead of themselves, ‘it may not be now, but in the future we’re going to use civilians’ shit to grow our plants‘.

“They actually want to do something with it. There’re also farmers who have already circular toilets in their place and already used compost but not in the garden to grow plants, but in different ways, for example, to feed the soil. So, there are indirect ways already that they’re building the infrastructure that is needed to actually bring in the shit of humans to eventually really feed the soil in a way that we actually can grow plants that people eat. But they’re already starting to build it in different ways. So composting and other materials.” – Yanna Hoek

[A farmer’s words] “I make compost out of it with the cooperation of farmers where we rent the machines together and feed the soil, that’s how I can get a little bit of income, I produce food, that’s another part where I can get a little bit of income. So it’s a great way that you shift the mindset of a farmer No, my main source is not only producing food but taking care of the soil. So I can create a societal place for myself where I create healthy soils that contain water well, that are actually equipped for the climate change that we’re facing” – Fides Lapidaire


According to Yanna, laws and legislation are holding us (in The Netherlands) back. Many countries in Europe are already reusing their shit, either from the sewage system or in a circular way. And there are also examples of farmers that are using it because legislation is different there.

“We also have to look at a global scale. There’s a lot of innovation and already a change in this. But you also see a lot of people being held back, for example, in The Netherlands, we are actually not really doing well in the shit way. We have a lot of possibilities.” – Yanna Hoek

“The law doesn’t allow the space or farmers to actually experiment. It was also one of the things that we’re really pushing to give them the space they wanted, they know they need the nutrients for their own soil, they want to do it, but actually, they are limited.” – Yanna Hoek


We can still use part of the sewage system that we have. They are looking at ways to avoid burning all the healthy nutrients that we do now as this also costs a lot of money.

“A good investment would be to already start making circular toilets in new buildings, which are going to be built on a great scale in the coming years. We see it as sort of the main entry point. Circular sanitation has a centralized way of getting it all into one tank. We already have the infrastructure for getting trash or waste in vehicles already out of the city. So, there’re already ways of transporting, for example, these kinds of nutrients to the land. So actually, with the city, you can feed the land again. So it becomes also more connected in that way.” – Yanna Hoek

“There’s no one size fits all but there are a lot of solutions already to fit the project on hand and that’s the interesting part […] If you really change the whole system and create new toilets and new houses, whatever skill you choose, whatever point you choose on that transition skill. You as a person, you are a shit producer and you produce value and stand up for your rights, stand up for your shit rights. Make sure that your shit is not wasted and that you feed the soil.” – Fides Lapidaire


Koen, Yanna and Fides also talked about

  • What’s the entry point to scale this
  • Best way to deal with the sludge
  • The phosphate mines are running out




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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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