A cow dung air freshener sounds like a fraternity prank, but, for two Indonesian students, it’s a real solution to keeping harmful chemicals out of the atmosphere.
The odd creation was cooked up by Dwi Nailul Izzah and Rintya Aprianti Miki, who won first prize in their country’s Science Project Olympiad for the environmentally friendly air freshener. And here’s the oddest part — the cow dung air freshener supposedly smells quite good.
It might sound like a strange invention, but the cow dung air freshener is actually part of a bigger push to improve the environment by focusing on poop. Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored a contest to find the “toilet of the future,” a cheap and environmentally friendly model of toilet that would help the 2.5 billion people without access to modern sanitary facilities.
“The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 percent of the global population, because they often don’t have access to water, and sewers, electricity, and sewage treatment systems,” Gates said in a statement.
The air freshener is good for human health because it doesn’t have the harmful chemicals that store-bought aerosol products contain, and it’s said to have a pleasant aroma of herbs.
“Our air freshener is not supplemented with chemicals to smell fragrant, it’s pure and smells like the natural plants fed to cows,” Dwi Nailul Izzah said. “It’s also healthier because it doesn’t contain harmful ingredients such as benzo acetan, like most other air-fresheners on the market.”
The students came up with the cow dung air freshener by gathering samples from a local cow farm near the regency of East Java. They let it ferment for three days, then extracted water out of the dung and mixed it with coconut water. After the liquid was distilled to remove impurities, they came up with a liquid air freshener that smells like herbs mixed with digested cow food.
The odd air freshener already has a lot of fans. It’s been featured on a number of eco-conscious blogs and praised for its innovation and affordability. It’s available for about half the price of similar products (the cow dung air freshener goes for about $21,000 rupiah, or $2 US dollars).
The girls will now have a chance to do even bigger things with their cow dung air freshener. They’re moving on to represent Indonesia at the International Environment Project Olympiad race (INEPO) in Istanbul.