Modified Humanure System

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Modified Humanure System
Author: Herb
Friday, December 23, 2005 - 6:40 pm
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Hi,

I was sitting in the outhouse yesterday and had this brainstorm.

As you all know, some of us keep urine separate from the poop bucket. I do that because I use plastic bags and sawdust instead of a bucket and keeping urine out cuts down on smell and mess. Just dump out the bag with nothing to clean that way. Of course one has the plastic bag to get rid of and that might bother some people.

As a modification of that system, I was thinking along these lines.

What if you used a brown paper grocery bag to line a 5 gallon bucket with? Then, If you don't pee in the bucket and just poop in it and cover the turds with sawdust, it would seem you'd have a completely compostable end product and not much mess. No plastic bag to deal with, and no dirty pail. Yes, you'd probably get some leakage, but not to the same extent of peeing into the poop bucket would cause.

With that system you could collect urine separately and add it to the compost pile.

I'd test drive this idea, but I'm very much sold on the plastic bag system which works PERFECTLY, at least for me.

Author: Larry
Friday, December 23, 2005 - 9:20 pm
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Paper bucket liners can protect the bucket sides from skid marks. I've tried newspaper and large brown paper grocery sacks. Both work, and are compostable. But it was more hassle than it was worth. Eventually I went to Joe's simple default mode, sprinkling sawdust on the bucket insides. A quick rinse with the spray nozzle is quick and easy.
In the grand scheme of things, using a plastic bag is small pollution. The hydrocarbon farts from a single gallon of gas are the equivalent of many plastic bags. There is no single system for backyard composting of humanure. Not only physical space limitations, but also psychological attitudes can shape a workable system. Does pooping in a plastic bag trump a dump in drinking water? De gustibus non est disputandum.

Author: Stephen
Saturday, December 24, 2005 - 9:58 am
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The Green party was promoting what I think were wheat based utencils, compleatly organic and biodegradable. I wander if there are or will be plastic bags made of the same material. You could possibly than deposit bag and all.
Something to look into if you use bags.

Author: admin
Saturday, December 24, 2005 - 11:52 am
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There are "compostable" plastic bags made from, I believe, corn starch (there are also compostable eating utensils). Here is a link: http://www.biogroupusa.com/.

Joe

Author: Herb
Saturday, December 24, 2005 - 1:47 pm
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Interesting thoughts and replies. Glad to hear someone has tried the paper bag liner method and found that its merits are not all that great.

One thing you guys have that I don't is a pressure hose to wash buckets out with. I live in a solar-powered 12 volt house in the forest with a handpump and woodstove. So I'd be hand-scrubbing.

But even so, how do you wash the bucket in the winter time when its all ice and snow outside and the hose is turned off?

With an outhouse, winter is the best. The poop freezes and there is zero insect problem. Zero smell. You don't need to use as much sawdust either. Actually you don't need to use any, but I still do. Also, emptying the plastic bag is nicer as it is one big frozen sawdust/crap mass.

Yes, I too feel the plastic bag disposal issue is a small one in the larger picture, but a good cheap biodegradeable plastic bag would be a nice item, esp. for people with a totally committed environmental conscience.

Author: Herb
Saturday, December 24, 2005 - 2:05 pm
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I just went to that link Joe posted and see that they are promoting a biodegradeable plastic bag/toilet system:

http://www.biogroupusa.com/portable-camping-toilets.html

The BioBag 13 gallon would be the way to go (I'm using 13 gallon white plastic bags now).

However, the price is up there. Looks like you can get 12 for $5 or 36 of the 13 gallon size for $20 (plus shipping).

A roll of 50 white plastic 13 gallon bags cost around $5.

Being a low income rural person, I can't justify those high buck shit bags, but if they were the same price I'd adopt them in a flash.

In fact, they would make the bag system just about PERFECT!

Author: Larry
Saturday, December 24, 2005 - 2:19 pm
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A dedicated bucket and brush for cleaning works well. I add a little bleach to the rinse water. A garden sprayer is another useful rinsing tool during freezing weather. It can be kept indoors until needed. Accumulating full buckets until a thaw is another winter strategy.
I agree that an outhouse can work well in the winter. In addition to the bucket toilet indoors, a convenient outhouse near the garden saves trips.
The discussion of disposable bags reminds me of Buckminster Fuller, who included a humanure bag collection system in his future-oriented Dwelling Machines, described in Critical Path. He often remarked on the lag time between design and implementation. Maybe bio-degradable bags will reduce some psychological barriers for poople too timid to use a plain bucket.

Author: Stephen
Saturday, December 24, 2005 - 9:54 pm
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I have, in frozen times, used cups of water from my springhouse. Splash and scrub,and repeat until clean. Not fun I know

Author: Herb
Sunday, December 25, 2005 - 11:02 am
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Quote: "Maybe bio-degradable bags will reduce some psychological barriers for poople too timid to use a plain bucket."

They would help the timid I'm sure.

BioBags would also be so convenient. Just haul the full bag out and pitch it into the compost bin.

What more could you ask for?

Actually I do have a pan to clean. It sits under the outhouse seat and the bottom of the plastic bag sits in it to catch any leakage which is rare. Once or twice a year I wash it out and put it into the sun to dry.

Author: Larry
Sunday, December 25, 2005 - 12:03 pm
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The Bio-Bag in a bucket method may be an effective option for those without yard space for compost bins, especially in cities such as Seattle and San Francisco where curbside pickup of organics is available. Pet manures are allowed, why not humanure in a bio-degradable bag? It would be interesting to hear if anyone is doing it.

Author: Larry
Sunday, December 25, 2005 - 12:13 pm
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Correction to that last post. I checked the Seattle Public Utilities site where it lists acceptable/unacceptable materials for the yard debris bins. Animal wastes are not acceptable. Non-dairy food scraps and food-soiled paper (like pizza boxes) are accepted, in addition to the usual yard debris. Looks like collection of animal manures is still something to work toward.

Author: admin
Sunday, December 25, 2005 - 1:09 pm
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In the winter months, I carry out two 5-gallon compost buckets at a time to the compost bin along with one gallon of water. The gallon of water is enough to clean the two buckets using a long-handled toilet brush and a drop of dish soap. I have a rope strap tied to the handle of the plastic gallon milk jug, which I keep in the toilet room. I strap the gallon to my wrist before I pick up the compost buckets, then I carry them all out at once (two compost buckets and a gallon jug filled with water). For someone who cannot carry as much, one compost bucket and one gallon of water would work just fine.

The entire weekly 4-bucket process (two trips to the compost bins, both times with two compost buckets and a gallon of water) takes 15-20 minutes. No electricity, plastic bags, or bleach are required.

In the summer, water is provided at the compost bins via a rain water collection system.

Joe

Author: Stephen
Sunday, December 25, 2005 - 10:15 pm
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Yes but if many avenues are opened to reach the same goal this goal is more achievable and acceptable.

Author: Herb
Monday, December 26, 2005 - 7:25 pm
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I agree. We are all reaching out in slightly different directions seeking knowledge and techniques suitable for our individual systems in this new endeavor no longer fearing shit (altho I prefer not to embrace it either).

Years ago around 1981 I used the pail method and didn't like it. That's when I was just dumping out and burying the so-called waste. I'm too lazy to be a consciencious pail cleaner.

Then, around 1984 or so, I adopted the plastic bag method and would haul the full bag to the local dump. That was an elegant system if you were careful NOT to catch the bag on any sharp edges of your rusty pickup truck. There were no signs or anything saying shitbags were VERBOTTEN at the dump!

But then the dump became a transfer station so I started burying the shitbags around trees, etc. It worked okay, but I didn't like the idea of those plastic bags in my ground. Not the shit mind you, but the bags. Plus digging holes is a lot of work too.

Then, about 3 years ago I heard about Joe's Humanure book on the internet and ordered a copy. His shit composting wisdom was the missing ingredient. No longer was human "waste" the terrible WMD of popular perception, but an untapped resource that could be used in a system and not just gotten out of sight ASAP. I immediately modified my system to use compost bins instead of burying the shitbags.

Yes, I do have waste plastic bags but they are going to an approved clay-lined landfill that will exist anyway no matter what I do. If it's a sin to the Humanure god, I trust it's a small sin. Not having to wash out dirty pails either summer or winter is just too desireable a feature to ignore.

My only other problem is that the first compost bin is taking forever to fill up. I want that composted shit for my trees and other plantings. This is taking forever!

But like I said: As soon as those BioBags come down in price I'll adopt them.

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