Almost Genius: A Watering Can That Uses Your Pee

Fertilizing plants with pee is the new hotness among organic gardeners. But how to sprinkle it discretely?

Almost Genius: A Watering Can That Uses Your Pee

Green thumb, meet the golden shower. Golden shower, meet Guldkannan Towa, a plastic watering can designed explicitly to hold and pour pee.


The can addresses a curious, albeit patently gross, fact of the organic-gardening world: Pee makes for excellent fertilizer. It’s got lots of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate — all important nutrients for growing healthy plants. One study showed that tomato vines fertilized with a urine mixture bore more than four times as much fruit as plants grown using traditional fertilizer. Tell ’em that next time you get caught relieving yourself in the bushes.

The can — equal parts chamber pot and watering pot — is the idea of Åsa Lövberg, a Swedish designer who describes herself as someone with “a strong environmental consciousness” who lives in a ‘charming turn of the century cottage’ outside Stockholm, where she “maintains a garden designed from her own needs and to the rules of nature,” which is to say, of course, she pees on it.


But sprinkling urine around the garden turned out to be pretty impractical, because she couldn’t find a decent container to put the stuff in. Everything was either unhygienic or uncomfortable so, as she tells it, she decided to design something herself.

Guldkannan Towa looks like a standard watering can, with a few notable exceptions. It has a heart-shaped opening that roughly approximates the contours of a toilet seat, so it’s comfortable to sit on, and the handle folds down so you don’t soil something you later have to touch. A matching heart-shaped lid locks in liquid (and the attendant smell). And with an ultra-durable polypropylene body, the can withstands squatters up to 300 pounds. Translation: It’s American-friendly.

The trouble is that Guldkannan Towa is perhaps too similar to a watering pot. More to the point: The spout is just a regular old spout. Think about what happens when you accidentally tip a watering can the wrong way. Liquid spills out the tip, right? That’s obviously not a problem when you’re just talking about water. It is when you’re talking about pee.

We assumed Lövberg included some sort of spout-locking mechanism to prevent unwanted leakage. But in an email, she tells us there’s only a cork that replaces the spout when the can’s not in use. “The cork is just to avoid odour and [is] not waterproof so the liquid should not exceed the opening,” she says.

Which means, if you’ve just relieved yourself of 10 Big Gulps worth of fertilizer, you’d better be damned careful carrying that thing from the bathroom to the garden.

[Images via Guldkannan Towa]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.