Can modern society evolve and see poop as a natural, fully renewable, and sustainable resource? Lina Zeldovich explores the ancient societies that understood and saw the potential in human excrement, and the forward-thinking ways we can use our own dark matter for good.

With so much smart tech, why haven’t we closed our metabolic rift? The problem is that we have to mend another huge fissure in the excremental ideology – not the metabolic but the mindset one. Unlike people in ancient societies, we still think of our excrement as the ultimate waste product that needs to be dealt with. We still don’t view it as an extremely valuable and versatile asset. We spend our efforts and money to remove the dangerous filth rather than to acquire and use a superb product of our metabolic bodies. And that’s the leap of thinking we must achieve, as a 21st-century society, to fix the problem fully.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.