Hello! I'm interested in hearing from anyone doing humanurecomposting in urban areas, looking for inspiration from as many sources as possible! How does your system work? What does it look like? How is it integrated into other systems on your urban homestead? Thanks, permies
I've used it for several months (essentially 1 season) in a tightly-packed suburb and it worked very well. The only learning curve was selecting the proper cover material, what I found worked well was free mulch from the city, that I then sifted using a 1/2" hardware cloth so the smallest bits were taken inside to cover deposits, and the larger bits stayed outside and used in the compost pile as each bucket was emptied.
I made a wooden box to attach a toilet seat to and contain the bucket as shown in Joe's book using a single piece of plywood. Staining the wood stank far worse than it ever smelled while in use! Only the first time I used it did I notice a smell, as I learned the proper cover material to use and how much to use each time. After that I only smelled the mulch indoors. Outside I can smell it a little as I'm pouring a bucket on the pile, but after covering it properly there's no smell there either.
The compost pile is just that, nothing fancy- 4 t-posts in the corners, simple fencing wrapped around it (like a 4' roll of 2"x3" material from a big box store) and I tie 1 corner so that I could open it the following year to shovel material out to use in the yard. The pile started with a bunch of weeds I pulled so maybe 2 feet thick, and some extra I kept to add around the edges so the bucket was poured in the middle and weeds were my version of straw when comparing to Joe's videos. When I bought the 3rd edition I also got the thermometer and it would read in the 120-130F range the day after a deposit, and drop down to maybe 110F after 5-6 days when the next bucket was added. So it was definitely hot enough with just 1 person using it, and would have been hotter I expect with more people.
I'm not quite a lumberjack, but that's OK, I sleep all night and I dream all day; I'll coppice trees, I'll grow my food, and compost poo and pee! With a well and off-grid solar, it's a permies life for me! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FshU58nI0Ts
abbie kruse wrote:Hello! I'm interested in hearing from anyone doing humanure composting in urban areas, looking for inspiration from as many sources as possible! How does your system work? What does it look like? How is it integrated into other systems on your urban homestead? Thanks, permies
In the 2nd edition of the Humanure Handbook, which is out of print and has been for years (the 4th edition is the one to read), I mention a humanure compost system being used by my editor in the local town where houses were situated about 20 feet from each other. The neighbors would come over and lean on the compost bin and chit chat with the editor. She never told them what she was composting, nor did they ask. As long as she kept enough cover material on the bin, there was no odor. After I published the 1st edition of the Humanure Handbook, a man wrote to me from Manhattan NY, where he had set up a humanure compost bin in the small courtyard behind the apartment building, with enough success that he was compelled to write to me. We set up the bins in school yards, orphanages, households, and villages around the world. Properly managed, there is no odor or runoff. Here's a video of my household compost bin when I had 20 dead animals in it. Animal mortalities stink like you wouldn't believe, but there was no odor emanating from my compost pile. The success depends on proper management and the correct use of cover materials.
Mark- it's good to know your bin heated up well with one person's "contributions." I'll have two people and a dog regularly, plus guests. Love your cover material idea- free woodchips are available in my area as well, but also have a sawmill nearby and lots of dead leaves. A big pile of woodchips would be a great resource for other projects, too. I also recently read on the forums and elsewhere about another style of composting toilet that uses woodchips and worms, developed by Anna Edey.
Joe- thank you for the YouTube links- invaluable info! I had the opportunity to read an earlier edition of the humanure handbook (2nd, maybe?) around 2005 or 6, and I started pooping in a bucket experimentally, using dry mown grass as a cover material. That experiment ended badly when someone (ok, I) left the lid off the outdoor loo before a torrential rain... I had been leaving the lid off to see how much fly action we'd get with the dried grass cover.
I haven't been looking too hard, but so far I've seen a few other designs for urban humanure composting bins:
- plastic barrels with pvc aeration tubes (Laura Allen, Greywater Guerillas, California)
- three bin system made of corrugated metal up against a building (Abdallah House, Australia)
- concrete vault (can't find the old YouTube video)