Shit. Crap. Poop. Dung. Feces. Defacation. Pee. Piss. Urine. Call them by their coarsest or most sanitized names, we all make it and we spend a lot of money and use a lot of water coping with it. 3,000 gallons of potable water each year goes to flushing your excrement to sewage treatment plants. The rough back of the hand calculation would mean that America flushes a few hundred BILLION gallons of water to sewage treatment plants each year. And what do we do with all of that crap?
Like most people, you probably don't know. Whatever your answer is, think about something else for a minute. Shit and piss are organic right? It's not frack water or radium 226 or bisphenol-A. It's basically digested food and microbes. So's cow manure that farmers spray on fields. And manure is in many conventional fertilizers you can purchase in home and garden shops. Well, what about basically free human manure? Humanure for short.
Enter the composting toilet. Madhu Suri Prakash explains the what, the why, and the how in this video on ecological toilets.
Talk about closing waste loops. A human growing their own garden and being not just a consumer with her/his body but also a producer in the most fundamental way. With good methods and proper conditions, this takes a considerable step toward what Wendell Berry (whom Prakash loves) calls "solving for pattern" (pdf here).
If only I wasn't renting.
Dr. Prakash is a Professor of Educational Theory and Policy at Penn State, a contributing editor at Yes! Magazine, and a frequent speaker across the United States and world on education and development having worked with the Bhutanese government on educating for happiness and the United Nations Educational Program. She is also co-host Peter Buckland's graduate adviser.