When living off-grid, luxuries like running water and plumbing are minimalist at best, if non-existent. Properly handling one’s own excrement can surprisingly be a harder task than it seems. Due to disease and other dangers associated with fecal matter, proper handling, treating, and disposal methods are not only necessary, but imperative to understand.
Human feces, although toxic, can be treated in such a way that it becomes a nutrient-dense soil enhancer, free from the dangers associated with “waste.” With a little solar and wind power, we can LITERALLY transform poop into something useful, a potting soil additive, perfect for vegetable and flower gardens.
What Is Humanure?
In 1995, Joseph Jenkins wrote his grad-school thesis on the process of composting human waste. The Humanure Handbook quickly evolved into becoming an underground bestseller, receiving various awards and accolades, including The Independent Publisher Outstanding Book Of The Year Award which deemed it “most likely to save the planet.”
While most people understand poop as undesirable and full of nasty pathogens and toxins, this handbook seeks to re-assess the value of sh*#, and provide the necessary know-how to beneficially recycle this precious resource, using it as a nutrient -rich soil conditioner. It can be used on everything from flower gardens to agriculture.
Did You Know:
- Thoroughly composted humanure looks, feels, and smells like regular soil, not poop.
- Human manure is full of beneficial microorganisms.
- Composting: The process of changing vegetable matter or manure into compost.
From Poop To Soil
The process of making humanure is pretty straight-forward. The main idea is to develop what is called a compost pile that will serve as the collection site for poop and other organic materials. This compost pile can be a simple dug-out hole in the ground with an 18″ barrier made up of food scraps, leaves, hay, grasses, etc; creating a separation between the humanure and the soil. This layer will absorb any liquids that stem from the first humanure deposits. With every load of fresh poop added to the composting site, a healthy layer of organic materials should be added on top. This mix of raw humanure with vegetable and plant matter will create the perfect carbon-rich atmosphere for compost organisms to thrive.
Did You Know:
- Human waste is high in nitrogen and must be mixed with carbon-rich plants for compost microorganisms to flourish.
- Joseph Jenkins coined the term “Humanure” because of the fact that before his handbook became an underground bestseller, human feces were widely understood to be a toxic waste product, unfit for any practical use. With the new-found knowledge that human excrement can indeed be processed and transformed into a material rich in vitamins and minerals, great for gardening and agriculture of all types, a new term for re-defining waste as a valuable resource was necessary.
- Raw human waste used as fertilizer is called “night soil” and is a dangerous practice due to potential threats from disease, pathogens, parasites, etc. This process is banned in The United States.
What’s On The Market?
The process of transforming human waste to a highly advantageous soil conditioner is pretty simple and straight forward. Your nitrogen-rich poop, once left in the air (and sun), has microorganisms which are fed carbon-rich organic matter (i.e. leaves, peels, hay, etc.) which allow the bacteria to flourish. This well-fed population of organisms then breaks down the fecal matter causing a reaction, ultimately commencing the process of changing sh*^ into garden treasure!!
There are several products on the market already that utilize the principles from The Humanure Handbook. One company that stands out particularly for its product is The Enviro Loo toilet. This product can be installed as a temporary or permanent fixture, and uses a water-less sanitation system that mirrors the concepts and practices of the Humanure Handbook.
The Enviro Loo toilet works by:
- The urine is filtered out through holes and left to evaporate using heat from solar power.
- Your “number two” goes through a slow and steady dehydration process.
- A black pipe and storage container, facing South, absorbs heat from The Sun and slowly “bakes” the poop and evaporates the urine.
- The heat that gets collected in the sh^# containers rise up through the black vent, using its ventilation system, and begins to create negative pressure. This eliminates all indoor odors and forces the air flow out of the toilet, through the sealed collection chamber, and up and out the black ventilation pipe.
- Maintenance is required every so often in the form of helping (by pushing) the drying fecal matter further down the sloped dehydration plate when there are backups.
- Periodically, one must collect some dried waste, storing it in a bag under a vent, and left to hang for six months.
Did You Know:
- The Enviro Loo is a water-less sanitation system that processes and eliminates human waste and urine without odors, heavy maintenance, or unsightly aesthetics. In fact, The Enviro Loo can be made and installed to look either minimalist in nature, luxurious for the modern environmentalist who can’t sacrifice style, or just for the public in general (i.e. schools, parks, etc.).
- The Enviro Loo is durable, sustainable, and cost effective, starting at around $1,000 bucks.
The Future Of Sanitation
We are at a point in history where we have a technology, a process by which we can revolutionize the plumbing industry, public water-way systems, waste removal methods, etc. People and countries, exposed to the dangers of using raw human waste as fertilizer, can be educated and trained to properly handle and compost this potentially valuable resource.
Disease caused and spread by improper waste removal methods (i.e. sh*%tting in crop fields or on the street) can be a thing of the past. No more long construction projects just to install the standard plumbing necessary for a toilet. This product is the one-stop shop to poop composting enthusiasts out there, or for those who cannot install a plumbing system (for whatever reason), or for everyday folks just looking to save The World, one toilet at a time!
When The Sh*% Hits The Fan
The technology to develop a dry sanitation system that completely processes and transforms your waste product into a highly usable soil conditioner full of vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients, and beneficial microorganisms is here with products available already!
We are wasting so much water in this day and age just to transport human excrement from one place to another, never processed, and remaining toxic and unusable. If we were to do just a bit more re-imagining about the ways in which we can have a cleaner and more efficient waste removal system, our societal landscape would look very different in the next 10-20 years!
People from all the “sh*#ty cities, communities, and countries can now get educated about this burgeoning technology! Say what you want about it, but at the end of the day, these innovations will change The World, despite all the shit-talk!!