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Cloth diapering water

 
Dedfa Noyb
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I am currently cloth diapering my child, and I plan to do so for the rest of my children. I will be moving onto a rural piece of land soon and plan on installing composting toilets and greywater filtering systems in my new home. I have been searching for ways to deal with the water from washing the diapers but haven't been able to find a solution. All anybody seems to agree on is that I should not use diaper water in a greywater system. Is there an eco-friendly and responsible way to deal with it? I have the option of installing a septic tank, but I would prefer to keep that as a last resort if possible. I have many a bad memory from my child hood from overflowing and backed up septic tanks.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho
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books food preservation fungi hugelkultur trees
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This seems like a good candidate for a "poo-bog"... maybe running a dedicated line out to some willows or cottonwoods that would love to eat all of that delicious baby poo goodness. I wouldn't want to grow any food out there, but I think either of those trees would do a great job accumulating all of that nutrient and creating some nice biomass.
 
Dedfa Noyb
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Would that also work for clothes that come in contact with heavy metals and chemicals? My husband is a welder and his clothes are often contaminated with things I wouldn't put near my garden. Also the area I'm moving to has a very high water table. Will that affect the feasibility of a "poo-bog"? Thanks!
 
Galadriel Freden
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Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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I don't have any scientific data to back up my opinion; this is just my opinion: baby poo is not toxic!

If you're really concerned, another option to look into is Elimination Communication, or EC. I did EC with my son starting when he was 5 months, in conjuction with cloth diapers. It meant a lot more poo went into the toilet than in the diaper; many cultures don't diaper at all, but do EC from birth (apparently it's the just normal practice in China and many African nations). My son was completely out of diapers at 18 months even though we only did EC part of the time when he was tiny.
 
Dedfa Noyb
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I'm not too worried about the feces being toxic, I am just planning on sharing my produce with family and friends who will most definitely not be okay with the idea of humanure. I am planning on raising bees, so the humanure from the composting toilets would be used to build up lush bee forage gardens. If I can get a blackwater bog incorporated into that design I would be most pleased.

My main concerns are contaminating the ground water and if my husbands clothing would poison anything. He has had zinc poisoning and is exposed to lead, aluminum, nickle, mercury, and various other types of metals in the course of his work. I remember reading somewhere that duckweed might take care of heavy metals. Would a treatment system with duckweed or other cleaner vegetation be feasible? Would the contaminates from his clothes hurt a flower garden? Would it damage the ground water? Would it hurt native wildlife?

I would love to be able to be completely responsible for my own waste, but I don't want to do that at the cost of damaging the environment, especially as many native species are endangered or are nearing endangered due to loss of habitat.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho
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books food preservation fungi hugelkultur trees
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My understanding of the bog concept is that the toxins are taken in and locked up in the plant matter growing there. That being said you should have no problems with the heavy metals or other toxins that may show up. You just want to take that into account when you try to figure out what to do with all of that biomater later on.
 
Dave Turpin
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Location: Groton, CT
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Dedfa Noyb wrote:All anybody seems to agree on is that I should not use diaper water in a greywater system.


There is a simple reason for that. Diaper water is not grey water, it is black water, and should be treated as such.

If you build your home with separate grey water and black water treatment paths, you must route the sink or machine that you intend to clean the poopy diapers into the black water. Personally I use a 2-step process: Clean the bulk of the poo off in a deep sink (black water), then final wash and sterilize the diapers in a washing machine with a steam sterilization cycle. In my case the effluent from the washer DOESN'T go into a grey water treatment area, but I believe that it could.

This requires an expensive HE washer with a sterilization cycle, but it kills two birds with one stone: The diapers are sterilized for my kids and the effluent from the washer is also sterile.
 
Violet Heart
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We just installed a greywater system in our urban homestead, that takes water from laundry and an outdoor utility sink. ideally greywater will not "surface", meaning it goes in a pipe and is trenched in and then distributes the water subsurface. we have our system watering a series of citrus trees. I am cloth diapering. I am not worried about some small amounts of fecal matter going in the system, as it will only reach the roots of the plants and not surface at all. technically any poopy water is blackwater. baby poop seems like a good fertilizer for the trees, as long as it doesn't reach the surface of the property. good luck. and think through what you are planning to do with your greywater and see what makes sense for you. peace.
 
Bob Knows
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A few years ago when my children were young we rented a house on an acre of land. It was out of town so its sewage system was the classic tank and drain field -- except for the laundry. Their laundry drain simply ran outside behind the house and emptied onto the lawn about 30 feet or so from the house. We lived there about a year. Having small children all the warm diaper wash and other laundry detergent went right out to the lawn. Diapers always got chlorine bleach in the wash so perhaps it was sterile. That part of the yard had by far the tallest grass. In a week when I got around to mowing that section of lawn would be a foot high or more. It really bogged down my power mower.

I'm sure it wasn't code approved. It may not have been good if the children were old enough to be playing over there. It was really good for growing the lawn.

Bob
 
Dawn Hoff
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Location: AndalucĂ­a, Spain
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We didn't have a grey-water system when my kids where in diapers. Yet I have always had a rule that "poo goes in the loo". We did EC with my kids from birth, and from 6 months (starting solids) and onwards no poop went in the diaper!

I rinsed the diapers into the toilet - now that might not be very practical with a compost toilet, bc that is a lot of water - but rinsing them in a bucket (emptying the bucket on some trees) and washing them on a hot water cycle (>70C), the water comming out should be sterile. Additionally you could use liners in the diaper? My mom says that when she was young they used wool liners in the diapers - treated w. lanolin it prevented diaper rashes (the were very very thin and whiked the moisture through the liner into the diaper).
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Location: Ireland
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It depends on what type of grey water system you have at present. If it's a percolating grey water filter over suitable soil, then there's no reason why the nappy washings can't go in as well as the grey water. Otherwise I really like the willow idea, to get a good biomass crop you can harvest when the children are old enough to do the cutting themselves. Just fence it off in the meantime and make sure that it won't overflow or cause groundwater pollution

For your husbands work clothes, yes constructed wetland systems can trap and contain contaminants. I remember hearing in the early 1990s that arsenic and selenium were two to watch because they can accumulate in the seeds of growing plants and be eaten by birds - but I've not verified that. Other than that, constructed wetlands are excellent filters for heavy metals and other toxins. But don't reuse the biomass in the garden, just let it accumulate in the wetland area for long term storage there.
 
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