• Pipe Dreams

  • The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet
  • By: Chelsea Wald
  • Narrated by: Lisa Flanagan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

From an award-winning science journalist, a “deeply researched, entertaining, and impassioned exploration of sanitation” (Nature) and the future of the toilet - for fans of popular science best sellers by Mary Roach. 

Most of us do not give much thought to the centerpiece of our bathrooms, but the toilet is an unexpected paradox. On the one hand, it is a modern miracle: a ubiquitous fixture in a vast sanitation system that has helped add decades to the human lifespan by reducing disease. On the other hand, the toilet is also a tragic failure: Less than half of the world’s population can access a toilet that safely manages body waste, including many right here in the United States. And it is inefficient, squandering clean water as well as the nutrients, energy, and information contained in the stuff we flush away. While we see radical technological change in almost every other aspect of our lives, we remain stuck in a sanitation status quo - in part because the topic of toilets is taboo.  

Fortunately, there’s hope - and Pipe Dreams daringly profiles the growing army of scientists, engineers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and activists worldwide who are overcoming their aversions and focusing their formidable skills on making toilets accessible and healthier for all. 

This potential revolution in sanitation has many benefits, including reducing inequalities, mitigating climate change and water scarcity, improving agriculture, and optimizing health. Author Chelsea Wald takes us on a wild world tour from a compost toilet project in Haiti, to a plant in the Netherlands that salvages used toilet paper from sewage, and shows us a toilet seat that can watch users’ poop for signs of illness, among many other fascinating developments.

“Toilet humor is one thing, but toilet fact, as digested by skilled science writer Wald, is quite another.... [Pipe Dreams is] a highly informative, well-reasoned call to rethink the throne.” (Kirkus Reviews

©2021 Chelsea Wald. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about Pipe Dreams

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Powerful, intricate, and wide ranging

Amidst all the books on toilets, Chelsea Wald’s Pipe Dreams breaks through with clarity, depth, and actionable inspiration. The oft repeated term “toilet systems” takes us from the humble, intimate user interface to the impact of climate change and the “silver tsunami” threatening the planet’s most sophisticated wastewater treatment infrastructure. While no stone is unturned, Pipe Dreams is compellingly accessible. Let’s hope this book becomes the game changer it deserves to be!

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Quite Interesting.

A bit of a wandering narrative... overall very informative. Covers a lot of subject matter.

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An excellent and inspiring introduction to the topic

Chelsea Wald takes us on a tour of current toileting practices and so many options for how it could be better. A great mix of science, journalism and storytelling. Bravo!!!