Adventures in Composting Human Waste into 'Humanure' Fertilizer


| 9/7/2016 9:23:00 AM


One of the most remarkable agricultural practices adopted by any civilized people is the centuries-long and well nigh universal conservation and utilization of all human waste in China, Korea and Japan, turning it to marvelous account in the maintenance of soil fertility and in the production of food. — Farmers of Forty Centuries by F.H. King, published in 1926

Recently I came across a spate of comments about “humanure,” or the composting of human waste. I thought I would share the experiences of our friend, Gus, in California who has been creating humanure compost for over 5 years.

But first, we have to recommend Joe Jenkins’ classic, The Humanure Handbook for anyone looking to pursue this wise practice. It is the seminal resource on the topic and available for free online (also available in print for purchase in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store).

Why Make ‘Humanure’?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already on board with humanure. But here are a few obvious reasons: clean water savings, infrastructure savings, and the transformation of waste into a resource. If you’d like more details on benefits of creating humanure, check out Joe’s book.

The house Gus bought 5 years ago was a super fixer-upper. Plumbing and toilet issues were one of the things he had to tackle right away. He decided early on that he wanted to make humanure, so in a sense, this streamlined his remodeling process.



How to Make a Humanure Toilet

Instead of new pipes and toilet in one of his bathrooms, he built an open-bottomed box with a plywood lid with a hole in it that just fits around a 5-gallon bucket.



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