Humanure: Using human waste as fertilizer

“The world is divided into two categories of people: those who shit in their drinking water supplies and those who don’t.”

– Joe Jenkins, Author of Humanure Handbook.

As the war for resources wage on let’s take a moment to discuss a resource that we throw away every single day: human manure.

“Humanure (human manure) is the human fecal material and urine that is recycle for agricultural purposes via thermophilic composting. Humanure contains valuable soil nutrients that enhance plant growth.  Human manure could be a major source of soil fertility if properly recycled. When discarded into the environment as a waste material, it creates pollution and threatens public health. When you recycle using composting, the pollution and health threats are eliminate. ”  

composting-toilet-diagramComposting toilets don’t smell bad at all. That is because each time someone does their business, they cover it up with carbon-rich sawdust which accomplishes three things. Soaks up moisture, create a covering that prevent odor from escaping. And create a cover that prevents flies from being attract to it. Additionally, each bucket has a wooden cover so insects cannot get into it.

Many Ecovillages compost human waste in such a way that it is recycled, over a two year period, using methods that organically destroy all pathogens contained within it. The toilets at don’t have any water in them. Instead, they have sawdust. Each toilet has a seat and lid just like conventional toilets.

But instead of a water-filled bowl, there is a bucket filled with excreta and covered with sawdust. When the bucket gets full, it’s removed and put into a quarantined area where it sits and is mixed with more straw, hay and the like. It is heated naturally, and reaches over 120 F, which kills the pathogens contained in it. Then during the span of more than a year, microorganisms, worms and other bacteria break down the waste. It turns into dirt after a two year process. At this point, there is none pathogens and now it can be use as soil fertilizer.

Humans have been using this holistic recycling system for thousands of years. Here’s an excerpt of Joseph Jenkins’ book:

“I well remember in early 1979 when I first informed a friend that I intended to compost my own manure and grow my own food with it.

“Oh my God, you can’t do that!”

she cried.

“Why not?”

“Worms and disease!”

Of course.”

A young English couple was visiting me one summer after I had been composting humanure for about six years. One evening, when the dinner was cooking, the couple suddenly understood the horrible reality of their situation. The food they were about to eat made it by recycle human shit. When this fact abruptly dawned upon them, it seemed to set off an instinctive alarm, possibly inherited directly from Queen Victoria.

“We don’t want to eat shit!” they informed me, rather distressed (that’s an exact quote). As if in preparing dinner I had simply set a steaming turd on a plate in front of them with a knife, fork and napkin.

Fecophobia is alive and well and running rampant. One common misconception is that fecal material, when composted, remains fecal material. It does not. Humanure comes from the earth, and through the miraculous process of composting, is convert into earth.

When the composting process is finished, the end product is humus, not crap, and it is useful in growing food. My friends didn’t understand this and despite my attempts to clarify the matter for their benefit. They chose to cling to their misconceptions. Apparently, some fecophobes will always remain fecophobes.  -Humanure Handbook.

We don’t use the humanure system at RVA, but are researching ways to reduce our waste, for example we have a grey water recycling system that cleans the water from the showers and washing machine.  The Humanure system is great because you no generate sewage, and in many developing countries sewage and sanitation are big problems for human health.

Learn more here

http://www.humanurehandbook.com

As always, we invite you to share this article in your social networks. Also, we remind you to leave a comment about what you found in this article.

Humanure: Using human waste as fertilizer
Tagged on:

Please, share your comment with us!

Permaculture Banner Desktop