EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – How do feces affect the world? And why should you care?

Michigan State University Professor Troy Hale’s new award-winning documentary “Sh*t Saves the World” hopes to answer that question.

The humorous look at human and animal waste’s impact on the environment hit multiple streaming platforms Tuesday.

Hale said the documentary’s genesis came about when he realized no other readily available documentary tackled the universal, albeit somewhat comedic, subject.

“It’s a goofy enough topic that people in Hollywood got interested in,” Hale said. “For myself, I come up with all these ideas and see if there’s anything out there like that. When I researched this film, there was nothing out there.”

Official film poster for “Sh*t Saves the World,” produced by Gravitas Ventures.

The first cut of “Sh*t Saves the World” was a roughly 10-minute mini-doc that Hale produced with the aid of a few students in 2017. Realizing that there was a larger wealth of material to work with, Hale went bigger with the project.

Luckily for Hale, the bulk of in-person interviews were completed prior to the coronavirus pandemic. He captured much of the environmental footage while traveling with his family.

A trip to Tanzania proved especially valuable.

“I didn’t realize how much content I would get from there. There are dung beetles that survive using other animal’s crap. They make dung huts there; they use cow manure and build houses out of it,” Hale said.

Hale said a good sense of humor is one of the best ways to present information that is heavy on complex scientific and sociological information.

“In order to get a really serious topic across, adding a sense of humor really helps,” Hale said.

So how exactly does fecal matter benefit us?

One valuable use that’s explored in the documentary is anaerobic digesters. Digesters convert organic waste into biogas, which is then converted into electricity and heat.

Dana Kirk, who leads the Anaerobic Digester Research and Education Center at MSU, is one of many subjects interviewed in “Sh*t Saves the World.”

“When you watch an environmental film, it’s usually about problems without a lot of solutions. One of the massive problems is we’re producing a lot more waste than we used to,” Hale said. “But there’s also these places that are like, ‘Here’s what we can do about it, and here’s something that’s actually beneficial to us.’”

“Sh*t Saves the World” received two Michigan Emmy Awards for writing, awarded to Hale, and editing, awarded to Zoe Kissel, and was an official selection at numerous film festivals.  

You can check out “Sh*t Saves the World” on multiple streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, iTunes and VUDU.

For more information, visit the film’s website.