Exposures, Paranoia in the City

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure: Exposures, Paranoia in the City
Author: Anonymous
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 3:38 pm
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How do you folks deal with those occasional windows of opportunity for fecal contamination?

I'm thinking about stuff that happens like:

Dumping a bucket onto the pile only to discover it has frozen solid and is diverting the liquid off the pile into the ground.

The dripping shovel

Dropped the cover cup into the toliet


Now, they are occasional. And they generally are relatively small exposures (even the frozen pile only was able to divert some of the liquid before I caught it). But they happen. Is anything more than saying, "Oops," necessary?

I tend to think that these occasional small exposures are something that the immediate environment can handle, especially in the city where there are no water sources to pollute.

But I am able to see these from the fecophobic view that sees contamination and the necessity of cleanup. I can just imagine a health inspector being with me when the liquid bounces off the frozen pile and fainting! It's hard to dispute the effectiveness of thermophillic composting (but I know people that do), but those splashes and drips aren't going to be thermophillicly composted, and people can make a big stink about them. Any ideas of how to address these issues to the satisfaction of fecophobes?

I have been covertly using a sawdust toliet system in the city for 8 months now. It excites me everytime I go out and see how the pile is coming along. There were all sorts of mushrooms coming off it last summer. It was cool to see the steam coming off it when I emptied it last week. I'm looking forward to using the finished compost in the garden! However, I have recently been experiencing progressively more fear of being found-out.

In the beginning, I was very excited and told people about it and how it worked and a friend started up his own system that he used for awhile before moving away.

Now, I'm much more reluctant to tell people, and there's always a twinge when I'm with someone and they introduce me to a friend and add, "He has a composting toliet!" I've found out that the city shutdown another group that was operating some sort of humanure system a couple years ago. I'm starting to keep a low profile. I'm not ready for confrontation and I think that's what I'll get.

I had a dream last week where the health inspectors came to the door and wanted to come in and look around. They looked around the house and then walked into the bathroom. They open the lid, "Oh my God! I think we'll have to call the police on this one.." Hehe, it's amazing what comes out in dreams!

Author: Larry
Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 10:21 am
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Relax! Fecal contamination is low risk with proper management. The Humanure Handbook provides easy guidelines. You're not handling radio-isotopes or explosives.
Composting toilets are not foolproof, but neither are flushers. Have you ever dropped an item such as keys or pocketknife from your pants into the bowl? Have you flushed and watched in horror as the bowl filled and overflowed its odorous contents on the floor? Have you visited the effluent discharge pipe at the end of a sewage treatment plant to see the dead zone in the water?
It has become common practice in urban areas for dog owners to pick up poop in a baggie when walking their pets in a park. Yet these same people would shudder at the thought of emptying a bucket of their own bodily products into a compost pile. Your nightmares will fade if you focus on the positive: composting saves water, prevents water pollution, and returns valuable nutrients to the soil. Sweet dreams!

Author: Herb_Wis.
Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 3:40 pm
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Keeping a low profile in an urban environment is probably a very wise idea.

Stealth or guerrilla crapping if you will...

I live way out in the woods, and I don't advertise my composting toilet. When the tax accessor was here last week, I just pointed to a small building and said "outhouse" with a little shrug.

If he had seen my crap composting bins and asked I would have just said: "Compost piles" and let it slide.....

Discretion is the better part of valor (or something like that).

Author: Stephen
Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 11:50 am
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Hey, now there's more room in the closet for us sinse the gays have left!

Author: Herb_Wis
Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 11:48 am
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I'm sort of low profile anyway and don't like to draw attention to myself. Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission....

Author: Larry
Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 1:14 am
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Low profile on the Internet, Herb? Choosing one's battles is important strategy, but hiding one's light under a bucket leaves the World in the dark.
Political action to promote sustainable toilet systems is not a high priority for most poopers, but it has been my calling for some years. In an earlier career as a clinical psychologist I worked with many children and parents to treat bathroom behavior problems. Now I farm oysters, and focus mostly on water quality problems. Effluent pollution from both onsite and centralized sewage treatment systems are known sources of problems for shellfish production.
The Humanure Handbook was a tremendous educational step into the future, showing us a simple, effective and affordable path to sustainable Earth-friendly toilet behavior. My local efforts to introduce composting toilets to the Local Health Authority were ignored for years, until a political adversary turned me in for "dumping raw sewage in the Bay." The Inspector showed up promptly. He checked out our graywater re-use and composting toilet, remarking that we are "10 years ahead of everyone else." Subsequently, we applied for and received the first permit in our County and in Washington State for a non-proprietary owner-built composting toilet system.
There can be no doubt that significant economic and regulatory barriers discourage the use of composting toilets. But there is much opportunity to inform neighbors and regulators that alternatives to flushers exist, and should be permitted. In our home the bucket toilet sits adjacent to the flusher. Guests have a choice. Seldom is heard the flush of a turd.

Author: Herb_Wis
Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 12:15 pm
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Gosh, I hope they don't track me down!

Larry, I salute your dedication to the Cause!

We need a Golden Turd Award for the year's most politically active advance in overcoming brainwashed kneejerk anal retentive reactions in the humble cause of composting poopers.

Composting poopers of the world unite!

Author: admin
Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 12:11 am
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The Golden Turd Award sounds like a great idea. I'll have to pass that idea on to Mr. Turdley and see what we can do.

Author: Anonymous
Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 12:31 am
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it is kinda closety, isn't it.

I find I am very careful who I choose to talk to about my "bizarre" experiment in humanure decomposition.

a while back I had an email exchange with a doctor who spends some of each year volunteering in Third World countries, mostly Nepal lately. he said that around the middle of a long career in medicine he had come to the conclusion that the biggest advance in public health is adequate nutrition, which gives people the strength to deal with whatever pathogens are in their vicinity. after that comes clean drinking water.

the super-abiotic-antibiotic hygiene that the medical system is so proud of, he said he had ceased to believe in (as a life-saving innovation) early in his career. a very basic level of hygiene particularly around sick people, childbirth, and food preparation he said was a big advance, but mostly people get sick and die in large numbers in poor countries because they're malnourished to start with and their drinking water is filthy and/or infested with parasites. fix those two things and suddenly everyone gets a lot healthier. without a lot of doctors or city planners :-)

anyway, my online chat with this qualified MD (emergency room and GP) confirmed skepticism I had long been quietly hiding, i.e. that all the experts who know so darned well what's Good For Us -- and claim that every extra year of our lives compared to our mediaeval ancestors is due to our Advanced Sanitary and Medical Technology -- are just polishing their egos at the public's expense. our Sanitary Technology is just one step ahead of the medieval gardy-loo -- dump the bucket out someplace else and then it's not your problem any more.

sure, sure, I know some amount of standards and regulations are probably worth enforcing -- water and food quality in particular. but the attitude of city and county "experts" to waste management strikes me as nothing more than the death-grip of a career bureaucracy on its high-cost pork barrel. how much *real* public health is served by all their permits, regulations, etc. seems dubious -- in the meantime big corporate polluters get away with (literally) murder every day...

sorry about the ranting. it just gets to me sometimes.

Crapatista

Author: admin
Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 7:55 pm
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Makes sense.

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