Saturday, December 08, 2007

Taking Care of Unfinished Business

Or A Modest Disposal. Posted by olvlzl

Responding to the post last week about the Mad Housers huts for destitute people, some readers asked what the inhabitants of these tiny huts would do about toilet facilities. I appreciate the practicality of their question about this, perhaps, second most important issue facing anyone who would live in such a tiny house. It could be pointed out that the Mad Housers’ clients, already being homeless, would have long ago found ways to deal with the problem. You don’ t need to have a house to have the need of a toilet. One can imagine many solutions, some of them quite hygienic, some far from it.

There is a simple alternative that might be considered, especially now that it’s freezing cold. I read The Humanure Handbook a number of years back* and am pleased to find out that it is available as a free online download. When properly done, the odor is reported to be minimal and the sanitary implications minor and far simpler than dealing with plumbing. That is when it’s properly done. You will want to observe the advice given in the book strictly, especially keeping the necessary compost well away from water sources and fully composting the waste. If you think the idea of using human waste as fertilizer is repugnant, there is an excellent chance that you are already eating food that is grown using some kind of human waste now. Human waste is widely used as fertilizer, wouldn’t it be best to do so in a way that is more likely to render it safer?** That’s not to mention that even the meat industry recommends treating poultry and other meat as if was hazardous waste. E coli, for Pete’s sake. Enough said?

For some people finding a source of clean, uncontaminated, pressure-treated-free, sawdust or a substitute is probably the greatest obstacle but for many that might not be insurmountable. Jenkin’s system is a better way than to dump it into the drinking water, a practice that has been accepted with remarkable equanimity considering what it means. We are all down stream.

* No further personal details will be given.

** Ideally all waste should be used to generate bio-gas to produce energy and cut down on methane being released into the atmosphere. Methane is known to be a lot more of a problem than carbon dioxide in global warming. There are many small scale biogas plant plans available.

UPDATE: From My E-mail Box

Is this supposed to be funny?

The issue achieves a sense of urgency through the natural concerns of some astute readers. Actually, it’s an issue to which we all give our full, though unconsidered, concern at least once a day. If we are fortunate. Though it’s an issue which we are used to allowing to pass unconsidered shortly after the business is concluded. The problem, is however, a problem that is quite important and which requires more reflection. While we are happy to be relieved of it, untroubled, the problems flowing from it don't just float away never to trouble us again. Even with our modern systems of distraction and denial, the ramifications will inevitably pile up and demand our attention. It’s a rather unsavory problem but one which becomes far more than distasteful when ignored.

Experience teaches us, though that such things won’t be seriously considered; however, when someone does feel the necessity of bringing it forth, not without a leavening in the lump. As it were. Still, it’s not a subject that naturally lends itself to a dry wit, though a stale jokes are often resorted to. I think it’s best to just let nature take its course, oiling the skids as necessary.