I know this post is going to get some weird responses so I'll try to get all the nuts and bolts up front.
You can compost human waste and in 1 year it is completely pathogen free and super fertile dirt that can be used on whatever you feel like growing.
There's a cool (albeit unique) way of using composting toilets that saves a bajillion gallons of water every year.
First things first for the non-scientific people who don't want all the details:
Okay, I got that out of the way. Now lets get into the nitty gritty.
HUMANURE: A Solution
The humanure toilet allows you to be able to save the cost of a water toilet and and produce compost for your food forest or other plants. Humans have been using manure for fertilizer for years. We learned very early on that the food we eat contains more nutrients than just the ones we absorb. The nutrients we excrete are exaclty what plants need to thrive and produce more food.
Just like the water cycle needs to be closed to be successful, the nutrient cycle is killing us as individuals and societies.
Manure helps our plants grow and produce. However, the use of human waste comes and goes with the civilizations. There was a long time in European history where human manure was used as fertilizer and referred to as "night soil".
Then with the advent of the flushing water based toilet system, people became disconnected and grossed out by their own poo. Over time, poop became a thing to be hidden and kept secret. People pretend it doesnt exist.
We also broke our nutrient system at that time and became more and more dependent on chemical fertilizers.
In the last few decades chemical fertilizer is proving less and less effective. We are taking so many nutrients out of the soil that it is costing too much to chemically put them back in. This means farmers pay more and more to get less and less vegetables.
Enter: Humanure. Humanure can be said to be the use of the human waste product to make fertilizers through compost. Human waste again gets recycled and becomes more beneficial to the agricultural system.
The benefits of humanure far outweigh the grossness.
For once thing, humanure eliminates all forms of human excrement. We know we are killing the ocean and environment by dumping huge amounts of excrement (treated and untreated). Instead if we keep the nutrients local and recycle it back into the soil, we also save the oceans and the dumping grounds where this goes otherwise.
Thanks to science we know better than we did back in ancient European times when they spread nightsoil on their fields.
We now know we cannot spread human waste directly onto the fields because there are microbes, pathogens and ickiness that will get us sick. Instead, humanure can be used through composting.
NOTE: Direct use of human waste on the ground can lead to serious consequences including diseases and infection.
Composting is the breaking down of organic materials by different organisms that digest everything until all that is left is dirt. These organisms include Bacteria, earthworms, and insects.
These are organic matters that we already are familiar with when it comes to compost. Humanure is no different than the rest of these.
To make composting possible for these organisms, it is advised that you build what is called a compost pile. This allows these organic materials to build above the surface of the earth instead of beneath. It also gives the organism oxygen while the breaking down takes place. (as opposed to burying the compost and limiting availability of oxygen)
Also, adding organic content which has a high levels of carbon will aid the break down by microorganisms.
Specifically for composting humanure some brilliant people have come together and designed different versions of the composting toilet.
Not all composting toilets are made the same. Some use chemicals to kill pathogens but they also kill all nutrient use of the compost. (ie. you killed the good stuff too and when you add it to your compost pile, your pile will die and not work)
Others use burning as a method of purifying. This again, is successful at killing pathogens but it is NOT conducive to the breakdown process because you burned all the important nutrients the microbes would eat.
Instead the ONLY solution is a proper compost pile and time. No chemicals, no perfumes, no disinfectants, and no fire. Simply letting nature take its course is the only way to get fully nutrient rich, and pathogen free soil in the end.
The good news: its so simple, anyone can do it.
HOW TO CONSTRUCT A COST-EFFECTIVE HUMANURE TOILET
The following are tips or guidelines which will help you build a good humanure toilet;
1.GATHER YOUR TOOLS
Some of the items which will be needed to build the toilet are;
To see the toilet being built, check out some of these videos:
BENEFITS OF A HUMANURE TOILET
Having a humanure toilet might first be new to you and you may take some time to adjust. But once you do, you would reap the benefits of having it around. The benefits of humanure toilets are a lot. Some of these benefits are;
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH HUMANURE TOILETS
There are however some problems which can arise from the use of humanure toilets. These problems include;
1.PROBLEMS WITH MAINTENANCE
While humanure toilets have tons and tons of benefits, everything you have planned can go wrong if the toilet is not maintained properly. When a humanure toilet is not effectively maintained, it poses problems to health due to infections which can be gotten from organisms which cause diseases. It means therefore, that this system of toilet requires dedication and commitment in making it is highly maintained and clean.
2.CONSTRUCTION OF HUMANURE TOILETS
While the installation process is relatively easy, other problems emerge from the construction of the humanure toilet. Humanure toilets usually are linked to a water system known as the gray water system. This system ensures that the toilet is free from harmful organisms which can cause infections to arise from using the toilet.
3.IT REQUIRES A LOT OF SPACE OF SPACE TO OPERATE EFFECTIVELY
Unlike water system toilets which may need very little space, humanure toilets will require more space. This is because in order to operate effectively, they may require the installation of other units which duty would be to manage the waste material
4.IT MIGHT NEED A SPECIAL PERMIT TO CONSTRUCT
In some places, humanure toilets may need a special permit before it can be allowed to be operated. The truth though, is that, most countries recognize it and it is allowed without permits. It wouldn’t hurt though, to check with your local authorities on the issue of humanure toilets before constructing one.
While having humanure toilets are more difficult in cities and urban towns, communities who live off the grid have embraced it with open arms. Before getting one, it might be important to weigh the pros and cons of having it and how it will affect your environment.
Written by: Page Ollice
Founder of Good Old Fashioned, Page has spent over 7 years researching off grid and sustainable living techniques to design one master project: A self reliant homestead in New Mexico that takes into account shelter, water, fuel, food, waste management, heat/cooling, and electricity. He is putting all his notes online open source for public use so that anyone can follow his plans to building their own autonomous, self-reliant homestead.
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