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toilet paper alternative- wash with water  RSS feed

 
Corey Schmidt
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Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
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One of the things i learned in my over 1.5 years in India was how to wash my butt with water. its fun and easy, its much cleaner than TP and results in greater comfort throughout the day, more environment friendly, etc.
just take a cup of water in your right hand, and pour it down your crack and with your left hand wipe it all clean as you continue to pour. Here in Alaska, we like to use warm water for this, especially in the winter. you can then dry with a dedicated rag or just a couple of pieces of precious tp. and always wash hands with soap after. i find that about 1/2 pint of water is a sufficient amount to acheive squeaky cleanliness. Enjoy!
 
Timothy Ettridge
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I first came across this concept when in Nepal in 2004 and confronted with a toilet with nothing more than a bucket of water nearby with a cup in it. "What on earth am I supposed to wipe my butt with?" I pondered for five minutes before coming to the inevitable conclusion. As a westerner experiencing this for the very first time at the age of 49, this was an absurd option. Since then, however, I do it all the time and feel much healthier.

An aside: this finally gave me a clue as to what the big deal was over the supposedly unclean left hand found in many middle-eastern cultures.

As I'm building a tiny house, I've given much thought to my ultimate toilet system. I think I've come down to a pee-diverting, sawdust composting system with a secondary diverter for cleaning myself as described above. This will be the only blackwater produced, and in a much smaller volume for which I hope to devise some evaporation tank that can reduce this to solid waste for the compost container (a large garbage bin) as well.
 
Corey Schmidt
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Here we use an outhouse. it took me about 2 days to dig the hole last summer, and from the looks of it, it should take at least 10 years to fill it up. in retrospect, i think it would be better to dig 2 smaller holes that last about 2 or 3 years each and drag the outhouse back and forth every 2 or 3 years, and just before moving it, get 2-3 year old humanure for gardens. i could still dig a smaller hole and move it in another year or so, but then i would have my big mostly empty10 year hole to deal with. i guess i could throw other compstables in there also...
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Outstanding advice Corey...

I wish we had different "toilet training habits" for our children and culture here...

I haven't used toilet paper in my entire 55 years of life, and the down stairs bathroom in my house (according to my wife) is "my bathroom." The roll in there is two years old and still full as only guest occasionally use it...

Wonderful description of procedure and I agree 100%...much cleaner!!!
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Timothy Ettridge wrote:
As I'm building a tiny house, I've given much thought to my ultimate toilet system. I think I've come down to a pee-diverting, sawdust composting system with a secondary diverter for cleaning myself as described above. This will be the only blackwater produced, and in a much smaller volume for which I hope to devise some evaporation tank that can reduce this to solid waste for the compost container (a large garbage bin) as well.


Why not just send it with the pee?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Steve Farmer
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Cut a chilli pepper in half and scrape the seeds out with your finger tips. Then wash your hands. Then wash them again. Then rub your hands in dirt and wash them again. Now taste your finger tips. Chilli.
Washing your hands might make them look clean but it takes a lot of washing and scrubbing to really make them clean. Ask a surgeon how long they scrub for.

I would NEVER wipe with my bare hand.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Steve Farmer wrote:I would NEVER wipe with my bare hand.


Apart from TP, any suggestions? A rag?
 
William Bronson
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Steve Farmer wrote:Cut a chilli pepper in half and scrape the seeds out with your finger tips. Then wash your hands. Then wash them again. Then rub your hands in dirt and wash them again. Now taste your finger tips. Chilli.
Washing your hands might make them look clean but it takes a lot of washing and scrubbing to really make them clean. Ask a surgeon how long they scrub for.

I would NEVER wipe with my bare hand.


The dose makes the poison.
Clean is not the same as sterile.
Underwear and toilet paper are not germ proof barriers. Unless your exceptionally careful you will touch a faucet handle, door knob or tool handle that is teeming with bacteria, including fecal bacteria.
A capsaicin concentration of 10 parts per million is detectable by human taste.
 
Timothy Ettridge
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Why not just send it with the pee?


The pee is sterile and good nitrogen fertilizer straight from your body. Butt wiping water, on the other hand, needs to be decomposed for a full year to be safe to simply apply to one's land (as pee is right away).
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Timothy Ettridge wrote:

The pee is sterile and good nitrogen fertilizer straight from your body. Butt wiping water, on the other hand, needs to be decomposed for a full year to be safe to simply apply to one's land (as pee is right away).


I see, what design did you come up with?
 
Jd Gonzalez
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The Romans used a "Spongia" for taking care of business down there. A vessel with brine (salt water) was used to keep the spongia ready for the next client.






http://naturalspasupplies.co.uk/make-a-sponge-on-stick-spongia/

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/14/1060759/-We-re-Out-of-Toilet-Paper-Now-What#




 
Adrien Lapointe
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Is the metal stick for when it gets too crusty?
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:Is the metal stick for when it gets too crusty?


It is a scraper, to direct the spongia and clean any leavings...

There is a documented story of a gladiator who committed suicide by choking on a spongia...what a way to go!
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Interesting article about how the Romans used that sponge:

http://www.wondersandmarvels.com/2009/08/what-the-romans-used-for-toilet-paper.html

I wonder how sanitary it would be. I am trying to see how I could make this work in either a modern conventional washroom or a composting toilet.
 
Jd Gonzalez
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By Jove I got it !

A pump sprayer. Fill it with water or an astringent herbal "tea", hose your nether regions and dab dry with a cleansing cotton "buttkerchief" that is washable.
http://www.pestmall.com/shops/www.pestmall.com/images/products/originals/74_119_chapin-1gallon-pump-sprayer.jpg
 
Wyatt Barnes
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After the zombie apocalypse I will probably give up toilet paper.

Timothy I would suggest that if you are diverting urine that the wash water could go directly into the sawdust toilet. One of the problems with urine diversion is bound to be a lack of moisture in the compost pile might as well add some before rather than after.

As for the outhouse, I am going to convert my rural outhouse to a rural composting toilet house. I am already doing the compost and it will give me some hands on experience with a sawdust toilet that gets used once in a while. I am advocating these systems to anyone whose eyes don't glaze over when I give them the basic details, and most people do, so I want to get some more varied experience.
 
Paul Andrews
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Why are we the only animals that need toilet paper?

paul
 
Rebecca Norman
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I live in India where the above-described water system is the norm. Water is alright, but I prefer toilet paper. I don't like how the water system leaves me damp in the creased clothing all day. I figure it all composts, and the total amount of toilet paper I use in a year is not exorbitant compared to the comfort and convenience.
 
Corey Schmidt
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I never made it to Ladakh, it still has a shroud of mystery over it in my mind, i havemental images of snowy mountains, dry rocky slopes, monks deep throat chanting, and people huddled in concrete and stone houses in blankets in the winter with freezing temps outdoors and indoors, etc etc. If you choose and prefer to use TP that is your prerogative, however IF on occasion you MUST use water, if you dry afterwards it can make the experience much more pleasant, esp in colder climates.
 
Jackson Vasey
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Given the assumption you have a water line with enough pressure, you could install a handheld bidet next to the toilet, and save your left hand. Or you could go whole hog and install one of those automatic bidet sprayers, but really the handheld sprayer seems like a nice compromise on the TP thing.

I personally prefer the 3 seashells method, but to each their own.
 
Corey Schmidt
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what is the 3 seashells method?
 
Mj Raichyk
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Jackson Vasey wrote:Given the assumption you have a water line with enough pressure, you could install a handheld bidet next to the toilet, and save your left hand. Or you could go whole hog and install one of those automatic bidet sprayers, but really the handheld sprayer seems like a nice compromise on the TP thing.


The issue of the bidet is certainly a valuable consideration. Women that I know who (after the TP-ing is done) used the pint of water, did see a cessation in urinary tract infections. I however like my water quite warm so it's either a pint of warm fresh water or attaching the automatic bidet to the warm water pipe (which is not adequate in the cool season here in Cinci)

And when you're smartly using composting toilets, the TP-tissue concept is replacable with paper toweling (for much more substantial cleaning) when you're doing composting since paper is part of the needed carbon in the C/N balance.

Nor would I endorse the outhouse idea in our climate. Instead get yourself a Canadian Reliance Hassock per person and keep your hassock handy in your bedroom. the ultimate convenience when you wake up, plus the hassock bucket is easily emptied into the main biobin....... for completed composting... space age quality comfort and sustainability with composting...... it's the water and the electric to pump and clean it that are the crucial ideas for dumping flushers........
 
Phil Stevens
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Mullein leaves are a great alternative. Here in NZ we also have a native called rangiora, AKA "bushman's loo paper." Big, soft leaves that hold together well.
 
Elisha Monger
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I try to time my morning so I can simply jump in the shower afterwards and clean up there. Going poo-less in the shower has multiple meanings in my home.
 
Wendy Howard
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Timothy Ettridge wrote:
The pee is sterile and good nitrogen fertilizer straight from your body. Butt wiping water, on the other hand, needs to be decomposed for a full year to be safe to simply apply to one's land (as pee is right away).


The human microbiome is intrinsic, literally part of us. In terms of cell numbers, we're roughly 90% bacteria and only 10% human. We have over 100 trillion microbes in and on our bodies and many of them are critical to our health and wellbeing. The same bacteria can behave differently in different contexts, and different sets of bacteria can perform the same function in different people. It's fluid, it's context-dependent, it's collaborative (groups of different bacteria work together as a unit) and we barely know the first thing about it. What we do know is that our simplistic notions about 'good' and 'bad' bacteria are rapidly falling by the wayside. So it's not possible to make a blanket statement like this because context is everything. We need to look more carefully at the circumstances in which faecal contamination becomes problematic, because logically these should be the exceptions rather than the rule - nature designed pretty much all land-based animals, humans included, to return their waste straight to the soil. If there are problems with this, we're doing something wrong.

Decomposition of faeces can be both aerobic and/or anaerobic, but it's much faster, more effective, odourless, and results in a much more valuable end-product when it's aerobic. Soil microbiota and other lifeforms are incredibly efficient at turning excrement into soil because it's such a valuable element in the soil-building process. Most of the problems arise when we make the process anaerobic (eg. putting faeces in water) or otherwise prevent the full range of organisms specifically evolved for the purpose from doing their job in the way they've evolved to do (eg. isolating faeces from the environment, applying chemicals, bulk processing, etc). In the system she designed to clean the Black Dog Tavern's septic tank outflow in Vineyard Haven (MA), Anna Edey proved that, using only a limited range of these natural processes, you can remove the majority of faecal contaminants and nitrogen (from urine) from water in as little as 10 minutes.

So the long and the short of this is that in most circumstances there's nothing wrong with putting butt wiping water straight on your land. The soil bacteria will deal with it instantly. And in designing any sewerage treatment, the closer you can get to natural aerobic processes, the better. I'm building a number of different experimental toilet systems here to get a good comparison between them all. Two are completed: one uses Joe Jenkins' dry 'humanure' system and the other Anna Edey's vermicomposting flush toilet system. For the next I'm planning to experiment with black soldier fly larvae (which will then be used for chicken feed).

As for the butt wipe question, I use dampened cellulose and cotton sponge cloths (reusable and compostable) which get washed out after use and can also be boiled every so often, but I'd like to find an effective way of cleaning them in solution. Currently thinking EMs ...
 
Rose Pinder
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Phil Stevens wrote:Mullein leaves are a great alternative.


Some people find the fine hairs on mullein irritating to more sensitive tissues, so I'd recommend trying this out with care
 
Kevin Searcy
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Hello all, interesting discussion. I always try to keeps things simple and wonder what our ancestors and the natives would have done? It seems that grass is a logical solution. I've had a few opportunities to try this while out in nature walking my dogs. I took a handful of long grass and folded it over. It works and gives a nice scratching sensation as well. The vetches and Indian licorice work well to. I like the Solviva worm bed method for a permanent solution, with a pile of hay for a carbon source it should work well. As with most things. It's a work in progress and everyone has different ideas. Give it a try. Like I tell my dogs, you haven't lived till you've wiped your ass with a handful of grass.
 
Matt Armstrong
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My significant other and me use the family cloth technique. Simply put, it's pieces of cut cloth of polo shirt for #2s (better thickness and more efficient to wipe #2) and pieces of cut cloth of t-shirt fort #1 (we also clean the bowl with this one).

We use a little bit of water on the cloth to clean to perfection. Then, we put the cloth in a old stainless cauldron filled halfway with 50% water and 50% vinegar. We then wash the cloth in the washing machine the same way we wash diapers, but we first make it spin a few seconds in the washing machine to wring it.

So we buy vinegar often. For 2 people, it's a little less than 4 liter a month. I wonder if the brine (salted water) technique of the romans (see few post above) would work fine?
 
ronie dee
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How about early morning gathering large green leaves from dock or plantain or something you know what it is. Keep the leaves in a bowl near the loo with water on them. Add flowers or scents if desired. Use during the day and change in eve or afternoon. In winter or when the day leaves are gone... I'm going to guess dehydrated tree leaves used by the handful -keep a 5gal bucket by the loo.

I've used the mullein leaves with no problem, actually they are soft as silk. I have heard others say that it feels like the mullein hairs stick them in the rear. So I guess be careful if you try the mullein.
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Corey Schmidt
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Wendy Howard wrote:
We need to look more carefully at the circumstances in which faecal contamination becomes problematic, because logically these should be the exceptions rather than the rule - nature designed pretty much all land-based animals, humans included, to return their waste straight to the soil. If there are problems with this, we're doing something wrong.
...


My response may be getting a bit philosophical rather than practical, but here goes
it seems where faecal contamination gets problematic is when the concentrations are too high. Its likely that for the majority of the time frame of human evolution we lived in small mobile groups. Nowadays the 'pack of hyenas' model of human society has given way to the 'anthill' model, and so all our by-products are produced in much greater profusion. In today's modern urban landscape, the practice, by the masses, of open defecation can result in many unpleasant surprises, and, of course, typhoid outbreaks. Where did typhoid come from? your guess is as good as mine. and what about the 'ew, pooh smells gross!' response. is it inherited, or learned?
Another thought that comes to mind is that in "Farmers of forty Centuries" there is described the ancient practice of applying fresh manure to agricultural lands with tremendous results in terms of yields, and it seems clear that the only tangible problem with such a practice, even in modern times, is the occasional, but occasionally seriously deadly, spread of waterborne diseases. So, in summary, i feel its an issue of unchecked population growth that has led us to this age of sewage treatment.
 
Wendy Howard
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Corey Schmidt wrote:
So, in summary, i feel its an issue of unchecked population growth that has led us to this age of sewage treatment.


For sure. That, ignorance and stupidity. The human race is nowhere near as clever as we like to think we are ...

We could have used microbial and vermicomposting systems in bulk sewage treatment - basically concentrating the numbers of soil organisms involved in processing excrement (and the materials they need to do so) to match the concentration of excrement - without any of the multitude of problems we now have as a result of our chemical-based, water-borne approach to dealing with our 'waste'. And our 'waste' wouldn't have been wasted either. Going back a few centuries, town 'middens' would have been perfect examples of a natural intensified processing system, comprising both putrescent and non-putrescent organic matter, charcoal and ash from fires, etc, etc. They're what's thought to have resulted in the Amazon's 'terra preta' ...

Typhoid and cholera are bacterial infections which typically arise when faeces get into water or through poor hygiene practices (not washing hands before preparing food, etc). They were endemic in cities where excrement was carried in open running sewers in the streets. Flush toilets and modern sewerage treatment plants originated around the time of the Industrial Revolution - ie. as part of an evolving mindset that saw man as superior to nature, nature as something to 'conquer' and 'germs' as our enemies. Oops. Although it solved some short-term issues, really we'd have been hard put to devise a worse system as far as its long-term detrimental effect on the environment is concerned.

Good personal hygiene combined with aerobic decomposition with soil biota doesn't carry anything like the same risks. Or smell (a repulsive smell is basically a biological inhibitor - keeps us away from things that aren't good for us). In a good microbial and vermicomposting system, there's no bad smell, even when opening the system immediately after a fresh deposit. The same applies to processing in humanure compost heaps, which are basically just small-scale town middens.

So again it's all down to context.
 
William James
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Soft rocks, drift wood-ish wood, leaves (I've used rumex and found it acceptable, a little on the too-slick side). The rocks and wood pieces are probably more for winter, haven't needed those yet.

If I lived in a more rural situation I'd probably have a composting toilet and use leaves for most of the year. Supposedly people where I live used fig leaves, but I think they're pretty scratchy, unless it's spring. Oh, corn cobs with the kernels taken off, I think that would be pretty silky-yet-rough and could be thrown directly away.

Alas, I live inside a cement block with plumbing and not much is going to change that for the moment, so these are things I experiment with once in a blue moon when I'm at the land - on a very hush-hush basis. The land is also very near other people with eyes and noses.
W

 
William James
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I don't think the roman thingy would be very sanitary. That gives me the heeby-geebies. They also had vomitoriums, but that's another thing probably best left in the past.
We should probably be looking toward traditional societies who didn't live in cities for a good model of natural yet non-pathogenic ways of cleaning one's rectum after defication.

Water is a great option. In fact, sales of european-style bidets have increased by like 300% lately.
But most europeans still use toilet paper, so don't get your hopes up for a wide-scale revolution in the bathroom.

The other problem with water is that if you don't have plumbing, you now have very nasty water to deal with, mixed in with some "eco" handwashing substance likely. Not the best of all worlds, and so recycled, composted toilet paper starts to sound like a slightly better option.
William
 
Mj Raichyk
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Corey Schmidt wrote:
Or smell (a repulsive smell is basically a biological inhibitor - keeps us away from things that aren't good for us). In a good microbial and vermicomposting system, there's no bad smell, even when opening the system immediately after a fresh deposit. The same applies to processing in humanure compost heaps,.


Actually I'd propose that the 'smelliness' factor in a 'fresh deposit' is an important indicator of the depositor's latest nutritional/health status... why? because I recall what the cats' litterboxes smelled like after a deposit in the old days before we found out that cats are STRICT carnivors -- after which we switched their diet to raw/cooked meat almost exclusively (under 8% carbs aka kibble) and voila the litter box deposits were 'normal' and not bad.......

So our theory is that when the nutrients and internal health is satisfyingly compatible with healthiness, then there's a whole different 'odor' about body functions overall..... it just seems to make sense.... and it matches what we recall from personal exposures in the past....... seems like a useful check on health practices being in syncg with needs
 
Rose Pinder
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Corey Schmidt wrote:So, in summary, i feel its an issue of unchecked population growth that has led us to this age of sewage treatment.


and let's not forget that the Water Closet was invented in Europe following a period of time of increasing urbanisation where contaminated water, including effluent, was thrown in the street, where it caused significant health problems as well as aesthetic ones. It's no wonder we have such a yuk response to poo in our societies now.
 
Rose Pinder
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Jd Gonzalez wrote:http://m.livescience.com/42921-why-humans-need-toilet-paper.html


Where they say
In the article, Warman notes, "Although we share most of our DNA with great apes, there are some striking anatomical differences between ourselves and our nearest relatives, most notably our vertical posture. This enables us to walk tall with our hands free, but it also comes at a price: we experience problems with our back and joints, and the whole business of evacuating our waste is more difficult. The fundamental problem is that the area used for releasing urine and faeces is compressed between thighs and buttocks, so we are more likely than other animals to foul ourselves. We also differ from other animals in our response to our waste, which we tend to regard with disgust. This seems to have developed as a result of living together in settlements rather than roaming through the forest, where we could leave our mess behind us. Unlike other primates we can learn when and where it is acceptable to excrete."


This might fit into the TMI territory (is that possible on this thread?), but the rewilding crowd's theory is that hunter gatherer humans diet meant that the poo came out in a neater, cleaner, more contained package than we are used to now (and more like what other animals have). I also think there is a difference between squatting and sitting on the toilet in terms of how easy it is to have a clean poo.
 
Mj Raichyk
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Corey Schmidt wrote: i feel its an issue of unchecked population growth that has led us to this age of sewage treatment.


I read once that there was a period in London (UK) when both 'soil toilets' and 'water toilets' existed in the same period... you either were hauling water or soil (by bucket) for household sanitation... I'd wonder about the forces that shifted the balance into the water flushing convenience.... but times are again shifting as we now see that even stodgy Ohio now has (as of 2015) rules to authorize composting toilets and various types of greywater systems but on top of blackwater -- since laundry and kitchen water is considered black in the data on coliforms (e-coli and fecal) plus suspended solids, grease and biological oxygen demanding(BOD).... it will take some hassling with some county health types but some counties are run by decently intelligent types...

We're trying to get some decent system authorized -- composting toilets effectively pretreat the sewage to an extent that seriously improves the quality of the effluent and allows the minimization of the mound dispersal system... wish us luck..... we've got the system design worked out right down to water quality and economic impacts..... ttyl
 
Kitty Davidhizar
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Location: Bellingham, WA (Zone 7)
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I wonder why no one has mentioned the venerable Sears Roebuck catalog. That's what they used to use in the out houses when we went to visit my cousins in Michigan. Oh, that's right there's no Sears catalog any more.
Anyway, I'm saving my phone directories for that purpose for TEOTWAWKI. Though they keep getting smaller and smaller.
 
Bras cause cancer. And tiny ads:
The $50 and Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
https://permies.com/wiki/23442/digital-market/digital-market/Underground-House-Book-Mike-Oehler
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