The Owner Built Home and Homestead: Human Composting Privy

Ken Kern shares information and plans to build a human composting privy using aerobic composting methods for the homestead.

| November/December 1970

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    The "healthful" aspects must be considered. It can be factually stated that the conventional water toilet is not healthful. The high sitting position is artificial and unhygienic.
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    Our society not only legalizes pollutive unsanitary disposal methods, it also outlaws an improved nutrition—an essential factor in prevention of disease—which is obtained when excreta wastes are returned to agricultural lands as plant nutrients.

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Ken Kern, author of The Owner-Built Home and The Owner-Built Homestead, is an amazing fellow and everyone interested in decentralist, back-to-the-land, rational living should know of his work. Back in 1948 he began collecting information on low-cost, simple and natural construction materials and techniques. He combed the world for ideas, tried them and started writing about his experiments. Eventually, Mildred Loomis started publishing Kern's articles in The Interpreter, Way Out and Green Revolution. Ken has also issued a three year series of pieces (called Technic) on his own and a greenhouse-sun pit design of his has been featured in Organic Gardening. 

This installment of Ken's work is taken from The Owner-Built Home. I'll be featuring never before published material from The Owner-Built Homestead in my No. 7 issue. Again, I have to apologize for jumping back and forth as I reprint Ken's excellent material, but that's the way I have to do it and Ken's writing makes it all worthwhile. 


The Homestead Building Site: Human Composting Privy

"Modern architecture is a revolt against styles and is based on the intimate awareness of functional requirements in the broadest sense of the word "function". Unfortunately, the revolt preceded the research needed to start establishing these functions."  

Architects Journal, 1965  

In this multi-volumed and progressively-written book I have attempted to present the results of my research precisely along the lines of the functional revolt—as applied to the low-cost or owner-built home. In the course of my thinking and writing, I have been guided somewhat by readers' comments and questions on previous chapters. These have constituted a kind of feed-back on my researches. What were the readers' particular problem areas? Such considerations should assist in the formation of new chapters or supplements—even new volumes or books.

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