Tuesday, April 3, 2007

the Humanure Handbook Critique.

Pictured here is the third edition of the Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins. I just finished reading it (not sure which version) online. Check the last post for the link. Click the pic for buying.

As you can see from the date and time on the last post which I posted sometime during the first or second chapter, it has not taken me long. I finished it this morning, and according to one guy, it can be read in 4 hours straight through. I didn't read it straight through, but I'd say it took about that long.

The book's subtitle is "a guide to composting human manure" and I'd say it's that and more. This you might call the real composting guide. Most books about composting or having a section on composting completely skip over the subject of human excrement, and most others look down on it with quite some disdain. Most composters recommend against composting a bunch of things, like kitchen grease, oils, fats, meat, pet poo, and dead animals, but Mr. Jenkins recommends and demonstrates composting all these things. His resulting compost is excellent, and his methods are tried and true for 20 years.

Now a word for you fecophobes. This book will trip you out. If disgusting things bother you, you will be bothered. If you are one of those people who likes to pretend you never crap, this book will mess you up. If you are an active minded person who wants to live sustainably, and believes that therein lies the solution for the future, this book will open your eyes.

The author begins by delineating the problems with today's waste processing systems. And believe me, there are alot of problems, and blindness to those problems. I believe this is beginning to be remedied with recycling programs that teach people that there is no such place as "away" or "out" where you can throw things. But the place that is still missing in people's minds is where "down the drain" ends up. Sure we see a sewage treatment plant now and again, and we catch a whiff o' that smell, but what really goes on there? Turds and stuff get turned into sludge and CO2, that's what.

Now if you are a global warming believer, this should just outrage you, because sewage treatment plants produce millions of tons of CO2, and there's no way you can remediate it. Plus, the sludge that's left over is nasty, with massive amounts of toxins and heavy metals and it just gets to be landfilled. That's no sustainable solution for anyone.

So what is the solution? Recycling our "waste" which is no waste at all. You all know I love composting toilets. Well, Mr. Jenkins takes that concept a bit cheaper and says compost your stuff in your back yard. And you know I love cheaper. He champions (and so do his followers and humanure believers) the concept of sawdust toilets. Basically, it's a 5 gallon bucket with sawdust instead of a toilet bowl. Same as a composting toilet, except you empty the "toilet bowl" when needed onto a properly managed thermophilic (hot) compost pile. Within hours or days, all active pathogens are dead, and the compost is well on it's way to being rich earth for your garden.

The benefits, cheap, easy, cheap, provides compost, cheap, easy, cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeap. The only problem is what Mr. Jenkins calls Fecophobia, the fear of poo. Most people are happy to pay for clean purified drinking water to crap in, flush it down to nowhere using a bunch more purified drinking water and forget it ever existed, and to pay for that service too. They are also happy to pay for food, eat it, then forget about all those wonderful nutrients that could go in their garden to make more food.

So what do we do? Read this book, (free online) and take it to heart except the small Christianity bashing section. Decide if you want to be part of the problem or the solution. If you want to be part of the problem, go ahead and stop there. If you want to be part of the solution, change your life. Don't be like hypocritical global warming hype politicians and celebrities who wont change their lifestyle to match their message *hmmph*algore*HHMHHmph*.

The solution is active care of the planet, not rhetoric; personal responsibility, not politics. The solution is you.


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