3
$\begingroup$

This question already has an answer here:

It's a convention in fiction that characters are never shown using the toilet unless it's relevant to the plot, since nobody really wants to read about/watch/etc. characters going to the bathroom: not only is it boring but it's also fairly disgusting.

I want to have characters who aren't shown using the toilet because they don't need to. None of their species needs to, so toilet facilities are totally absent from their society. These characters are human apart from this change, and I don't want to have to add anything to the story that they do instead of going to the toilet, ideally. I do, however, want toilets not existing and characters not needing to use the restroom to be scientifically justifiable.

How can I make a humanoid race not need to use the toilet without making them different from humans in other ways that would significantly affect their lives?

$\endgroup$

marked as duplicate by Mołot, L.Dutch, Tim B II, Ash, Frostfyre Jun 19 '18 at 12:15

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • $\begingroup$ This differentiation would finde a use, even a very humorous one, if you had these aliens and us living together. $\endgroup$ – Valerio Pastore Jun 17 '18 at 11:07
  • $\begingroup$ Asimov has written of his main characters using the toilet $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jun 17 '18 at 12:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And following your logic you should also need a humanoid who doesn't breathe... breathing is also boring in the plot... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jun 17 '18 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ Weiss and Hickman postulated that the Patryn handledb such matters with magic, in order to hide their tracks from their enemies. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Jun 17 '18 at 12:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ and I don't want to have to add anything to the story that they do instead of going to the toilet, ideally So then why are you trying to worldbuild a toilet-free race, as opposed to omitting any toilet references (including establishing if they use toilets)? You seem to want the thing that you're trying to avoid (simple omission). $\endgroup$ – Flater Jun 19 '18 at 11:28
5
$\begingroup$

If the aliens have advanced enough technology they can use that technology to avoid having to use the toilet.

For example, a Star Trek starship might have sensors that continuously monitor crew members in a landing party for levels of bodily waste and whenever the levels reach a certain limit the ship's transporters transport that waste away. Thus they avoid contaminating an alien planet with all the Earthly bacteria and viruses in human waste. Possibly a similar system could be used for crew members aboard a starship as well.

Of course, with such constant monitoring it would be hard for people on the planet to capture a landing party and keep them prisoners for long.

Anyway, this is one example of how a sufficiently advanced technology could eliminate the need for using the toilet to eliminate.

$\endgroup$
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Suddenly, Scotty saying, "Captain, the transporters are broken, it'll take me at least a week to fix 'em" has whole new meaning. $\endgroup$ – C. R. Yasuo Jun 17 '18 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ Looks exactly like this answer - coincidence? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jun 19 '18 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ Jimmy Doohan had a joke he used to do in his con appearances. "We'd set our phasers to 'disintegrate', and aim VERY carefully..." $\endgroup$ – VBartilucci Jun 19 '18 at 13:23
3
$\begingroup$

While this isn't really evolutionarily likely, I have an idea.

How about the humans eat the food, after which point it goes all the way down the digestive system to the large intestine.

The large intestine carries the digested food to an internal chamber where powerful juices sublimate the waste.

This gas is then taken, via a network of thin tubes, to the skin, where the gaseous waste is exuded through the skin's pores.

While this may be at least biologically sound, I can't see any reason for this evolving. Organisms have been using the "in the front, out the back" system since animals were a thing, making it one of the most successful processes in the history of life on Earth.

Nevertheless, if you just want to satiate the general consumers, this could be used as a workaround.

By the way, you could just do what all the other books, movies and games do and just not show them going to the toilet. All 3 of those mediums rarely have a detailed, continuous flow through the plot's timeline, and often - if not always - skip scenes.

I personally find it better to just have the people excrete waste as normal and not include those parts in your story.

$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ But this way you need additional resources to create those "powerful juices" plus the issues about pressurised gas in an enclosed soft body. People exploding in cold weather because their clothes blocked their excretion isn't helpful $\endgroup$ – nzaman Jun 17 '18 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ @nzaman Fair enough. I still think that skipping the toilet scenes is the best way to go. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Jun 17 '18 at 11:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also don't forget about the constant smell of the skin. $\endgroup$ – atayenel Jun 17 '18 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ "While this may be at least biologically sound" ttansforming all waste into gas would cause internal pressure to go up by four orders of magnitude. In chemistry we measure amount of matter in moles. 1 mole of water occupies 18 mL of volume in liquid form, against 22.4L (almost six gallons) in gaseous form. A creature that did this would explode violently even if exposed to the surface pressure of Venus. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jun 17 '18 at 16:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mołot: I do seem to vaguely recall a story or game or something which had stinky, explosive goblins or somesuch $\endgroup$ – nzaman Jun 19 '18 at 11:25
2
$\begingroup$

Well, the idea was briefly outlined in Dune (Frank Herbert's novel) to have a society where there is no bodily waste (in the world of Dune, because there is no water and little food). Using a suit it was written that this is possible (called the Stillsuit) as follows:

It's basically a micro-sandwich — a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system. The skin-contact layer's porous. Perspiration passes through it, having cooled the body ... near-normal evaporation process. The next two layers . . . include heat exchange filaments and salt precipitators. Salt's reclaimed. Motions of the body, especially breathing and some osmotic action provide the pumping force. Reclaimed water circulates to catchpockets from which you draw it through this tube in the clip at your neck... Urine and feces are processed in the thigh pads. In the open desert, you wear this filter across your face, this tube in the nostrils with these plugs to ensure a tight fit. Breathe in through the mouth filter, out through the nose tube. With a Fremen suit in good working order, you won't lose more than a thimbleful of moisture a day...

enter image description here

It is actually conceivable in real life that technologically this is possible to a degree, but you would still likely require some measure of nutrients and produce some (albeit small) waste, however at much lower quantities to enable toilets to not be required (Perhaps the reduced processed excrement could be packaged and 'thrown away' in discreet garbage packets instead).

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ This seems to be fairly efffective and realistic, but it would require significant change to the story since these suits can't really be ignored, so this doesn't fully answer my question $\endgroup$ – C. R. Yasuo Jun 17 '18 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ As described, stillsuit would cook its user. But it was handwaved, of course. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jun 19 '18 at 10:38
2
$\begingroup$

They sweat it out

It has to come out somewhere. In this species, it comes out everywhere. It acts as a sun screen and moisturizer. Additionally, it supports a variety of bacteria which help their health in other ways. Scientists theorize that they evolved this trait to deter biting insects.

A lot of other sentient species are repelled by the poop-sweaters, but they don't see how they are any different from humans. Like humans, they leave oils on everything they touch. Humans also fart, which spreads the poop into the air - something that the sweaters don't do. Additionally, The human habit of spreading skin cells, mucus and hair wherever they go disgusts the Sweaters, but people in cramped space ships shouldn't throw poop.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

I thought of owl pellets

Several hours after eating, the indigestible parts (fur, bones, teeth & feathers that are still in the gizzard) are compressed into a pellet the same shape as the gizzard. This pellet travels up from the gizzard back to the proventriculus. It will remain there for up to 10 hours before being regurgitated or coughed up.

So rather than going to the toilet a rather hard pellet is coughed up and spat in the bin.

It would be a desert population so not a single drop of fluid could be wasted in urine.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

They either need some form of highly inefficiënt and roomy storage and processing space in their body, for example by having bacteria break down your crap and then the bacteria get broken down by the body. The remainder gets out by sweating or breathing. Or they need an alternative method of losing the waste. Excessive sweating, dumping it into the breath... Needless to say its also inefficiënt and still gross. You have to transport all that waste through the bloodstream to the lungs/skin and then wash it off...

The only other solution is a Stoma (not sure about the english word). Your waste is stored in a sack on the body and just thrown in the garbage (doesnt work that way with current one's though).

Frankly, going to the toilet seems the least gross solution to me.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

I do not believe a biological solution to your problem can exist. Lets consider what comes out:

Urine: There is obviously a substantial quantity of water, there are already animals that do a very good job of reclaiming this. It would not appreciably alter your humanoid's life if the bladder was replaced with an organ that does a very good job of reclaiming that water and discharging the solids into the digestive tract.

Feces: The volume could be considerably reduced by modifying the body to produce enzymes to digest the common stuff that we currently are unable to. This would mean that the bacteria that currently do that wouldn't have much to eat--and thus wouldn't get excreted. (A fair portion of feces is actually this bacteria.)

Beyond this, though, we run into three problems:

First, toxic elements. No chemical reaction can neutralize things like heavy metals--and we do get some in our diet. Thus there must be some pathway to rid the body of what we consume.

Second, essential minerals. They don't keep building up in your body because what they were used to make eventually gets discarded. If there is no elimination pathway how do you ensure the body has enough but not too much? (And note that we eat other life forms--that for the most part have similar metabolic pathways. Thus they will use those minerals and they will be part of our diet.)

In theory you could modify the sweat glands to get rid of these elements. However, what's eliminated in sweat will end up in your environment--in the long run I would think this would make your environment rather toxic.

Finally, the showstopper, energy. The majority of what we eliminate is in a low energy state. To modify the body to recover and reuse it means a substantial metabolic cost--but that means you need to eat quite a bit more--which means you're producing that much more waste.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.