Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Year of Composting

We had to leave the acreage yesterday for a trip to the city. I really hate going there anymore. Everyone seems to be on edge, not even realizing it. I don't blame them though. The traffic, noise, pollution, crowds, advertisements, and many other things just getting in your face non stop can really strip you of your serenity.

We went to a little restaurant for lunch before heading home. I went to the washroom and was struck by the thought : "Here I am pissing in one days worth of treated drinking water for a person, and I'll use two more days worth to make it magically disappear!"  Talk about crazy.

About a year ago, my wife and I started looking into alternative ways to deal with our septic tank/field concerns. Building a new home, we were faced with many thousands of dollars to deal with toilet waste. What we discovered was a system that is incredibly cheap, easy to operate and will actually add value to our property. Maybe not dollar value as some suit-wad from the real estate company might calculate, but REAL value. Value as in we are able to improve the quality of our own soil. Value as in we don't have to produce potable water just so we can shit in it. And the whole system was super cheap to put together and operate.

Plywood box, 5 gal pail, standard toilet seat
Bin system from free pallets

If you haven't read Joseph Jenkins' Humanure handbook, then you should. It gives plenty of details on setting up, operating, and most importantly, the science and data behind showing the safety of such a system. At first I was mighty skeptical, so was my wife. So we tried it on a week long trial. It's been a year and now I hate having to use anything else. The book recommends using sawdust for cover in the pail. Well that isn't so easy to get around here, but wood shavings in bale size bags are, so we use that.
The book can be purchased through Amazon or viewed for free (some versions downloadable) at the authors website :

People may think I am crazy for using this system (mostly city folk, not rural or old timers) but I'm not, and I don't care what anybody thinks (except for the wife). When you turn on the tap and nothing comes out, will you be sorry you took a dump in the last gallon?

The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, Third Edition


  1. You forgot to mention the added side benefit of the Humanure system. It keeps unwanted visitors like, say, your in laws from dropping by. :)

  2. Up until about 20 years ago, some of my relatives in northern N.B. still used a 4 hole outhouse. Big brother had forced them to install indoor plumbing, but they never actually hooked anything up, and kept on using the outhouse. When you have to use well water, you don't go wasting water.

  3. cdndirtbags,
    So far it's working. No one I've told about our humanure system has been brave enough to drop by.
    Ollamha Anne,
    All the rules and expense surrounding a new septic system is what got us looking for alternatives that led us to humanure. So far it's been working out great.