Saturday, June 02, 2007

Paradigm Shift

This is not apple juice and this canning jar is not sitting in my kitchen.... Its pee and its on the shelf behind the toilet in my bathroom. And no, no one is sick - this pee is not heading for the lab. Its my pee and when my jar is a bit more full, I am going to dump it on my compost. Soon, I hope to have my whole family peeing in jars and dumping them on the compost.

Did you know that most compost fail because of a lack of nitrogen? Instead of composting aerobically, they compost anaerobically which takes much longer and is much stinkier and encourages dogs and bears and mice to move into your compost. Did you know our pee is full of nitrogen? Did you know you could even mix pee 1 part to 5 parts water and pour directly on your plants as fertilizer (if they need nitrogen)?

I discovered this book. I have it on order from the library but in the meantime, the entire book is available online at that link and I have read most of it online. Reading this book has been huge for me. It has been a paradigm shift. In this book, the author, Joseph Jenkins, brings together his personal experience and practical advice with years and years of scientific studies. Things 'they' have known since the 1960's in North America. It has been a life changing book for me. Eventually, when I have my compost set up properly, I will be composting all my human manure.

Suddenly the ridiculousness of how we live and dispose of our 'waste' seems so blatantly obvious to me that I can't understand how I didn't notice before. Animals in nature, eat nature, digest nature, eliminate in nature and then nature uses the nutrients in the elimination to grow more food for the animals. An unbroken cycle - a symbiotic relationship. Yet we humans, eat nature, digest it and then flush the nutrients that the earth needs with our drinking water, instantly contaminating it and eventually, we flush this toxic water into our lakes and oceans killing what grows there (did you know that as of 2005, Victoria dumps its raw sewage straight into the ocean?) Yet we see this as sanitary and there are many who will find my little jar unsanitary.

We are a fecal-phobic culture. We have come to fear our own manure. In North America agricultural fields are used up and no longer productive in less than 100 years. In Asia where they have been using humanure for millennia, they have been growing on the same fields for thousands of years.... Unfortunately, they are racing to copy our dirty western ways and all this is changing now.

Reading the Humanure Handbook I have come to see what a difference composting can make to our planet. It is amazing what composting can do. When you have enough nitrogen in your compost, you get thermophilic composting. The little bacteria, with the proper food, raise the temperature of the compost and eat and destroy all the pathogens. This process can be as quick as 72 hours. And you can compost almost everything. You can compost animal bones, meat, citrus peels, eggs, animal products - everything. You have got to check out the studies he quotes in his book. They have even composted gasoline contaminated dirt and at the end of 90 days, the gasoline was all gone and there was just good compost. It is difficult to compost chlorine but even with PCB's (which have chlorine in them) after 90 days, there was a 40% reduction in them.

And you don't need a skookum, expensive, plastic composting toilet to get started. You can do it with a toilet seat over a bucket, which is what I am going to do. You should have sides on your compost to keep in the heat. I don't have those right now so I will wait to add poo to my compost until I do. I am going to use straw bales for the sides. So for an investment of $30 and whatever a toilet seat costs, I am going to be composting humanure instead of contaminating the beautiful lakes around here.

This is not the same as an out house. Out houses are not a good idea. They contaminate ground water. They don't compost. To compost you add all that vegetative matter - kitchen scraps and weeds, sawdust, cotton and wool, etc. Those that do compost humanure swear that it does not stink. If you cover pee and poo in the bucket immediately with ample amounts of weeks or sawdust, it keeps it from stinking, apparently (I'll keep you posted and let you know exactly how true that is).

To me, this knowledge has been earth shattering. I am simply astounded and amazed. And I can see what huge implications that this knowledge has for the entire planet. Why, it could solve most of our current pollution problems! It could make toxic earth whole again. It fills me with such joy and hope, it feels like a religious experience! I certainly have not done this book justice with my meagre descriptions(which is not new knowledge but a collation of what is already known). This book is worth reading. There is way more to it than what I am able to write about here and my feeble attempts don't do it justice. Read it!

One of the things I like best about this idea is that you don't have to go and buy anything to start doing it. It is so simple. And he also has ideas and suggestions for how we could implement these ideas in cities with dense population where people can't compost their own.

So maybe you think I am crazy and this is way out there. And unsanitary. And gross. Now the next time you flush your humanure down the toilet and waste it, I want you to think about the fact that you have just eliminated into perfectly good drinking water which is now contaminated. Talk about gross....

5 comments:

Mary-Sue said...

I'm with you ALLLLLL the way. I think this is amazing but how do we convince people to read it? If they read it, they'll be convinced, but feces-phobic people don't even want to read it!!!

bum.by.the.sea said...

haha, only you'd start off a post with a picture of a jar of pee...

me n' andreas have been talking about this very same stuff recently too, and he brought up the fact that if you find a way to seal it and make it air tight it creates useable methane, as well as getting rid of all the moisture, rather then letting the methane disperse into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change! NEAT eh? it is so weird what we do with our waste...makes no sense whatsoever.

Andrea said...

hehe, I have been known to be a little earthy....

katie said...

call me feces-phobic, but please don't post a picture of your poo too.

Laura said...

lol. ya no kidding!