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Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
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I have noticed a lot of what I call “My way fits all your needs & wants” in regards to the various methods of handling human waste.   It reminds me of the religious zeal of door-knockers who demand the right to shove their religion down your throat.   I see the electronic equivalent of that very thing on the internet.    Need proof?   Read the comments below a YouTube instructional video where someone presents an alternative method to the flush toilet.    Many of the postings are just plain vicious.

The fact of the matter is, that people come in all shapes and sizes and circumstances.   Someone in Tucson AZ can have a dry toilet outside with no difficulties; however, if someone in Alaska tried that they would have to shovel snow and chip ice before they could relieve themselves.

For some, the driving force behind looking for alternatives to the flush toilet is economical and thrust suddenly upon them.   They might not be able to afford to repair the leak in their plumbing or put in a new septic system.   So they might be looking for a dry toilet system for the short term and want to make as small and as temporary an investment as possible.

For a city person without land, their waste could be just that… waste to them.   They might have a need to keep the fact that they are using a dry toilet quiet and are disposing of their waste in plastic bags in the garbage.   Whether or not this is a voluntary choice for them, or that it is the best they can do at the moment to save the environment, for me or anyone else to throw stones at them for not composting their waste is just plain rude.    They are walking in the right direction and the fact that they are no longer polluting large amounts of drinking water daily via the flush toilet is of no small significance.

All these reasons for going for a sustainable lifestyle should be encouraged.   For many, it might be the first baby steps towards becoming ecologically friendly.

To “shut-up” a person who uses the city dump as their method of handling their humanure denies another access to an idea that would be the perfect solution in their situation.   Discussions on this method of disposal would have totally different topic headings.   Like if it is illegal, how to hide the fact that your bag contains poop from the garbage man.   Anyone wanting to get suggestions on methods to disguise the poop bag from your garbage man might give up on their quest after reading 100 criticisms when at post 101 there was a suggestion to insert your humanure bag inside your kitchen garbage bag.   The results of this might be that they continue using the flush toilet because they feel there is no alternative.  The YouTube comments under the video that promoted this was heartbreaking.

Critical responses rarely add to the discussion.   If the method is not for you, move on and leave no footprints.   Allow those to whom this solution works best in their circumstances to share with others.

Recently I had a thief steal my compost/humanure.   For me that was the period at the end of the sentence.   About a month ago I watched a Paul Wheaton video where he mentioned that the shrinkage in the compost was due to the loss of nitrogen and carbon into the air.   Since my clay soil needed both nitrogen and carbon as amendments, I had already started looking at alternatives to the compost heap prior to the theft.  And quite frankly, the fact of the matter was that the compost pile was only convenient to me in the summer.   Cold, snow and ice made adding winter deposits to the compost a dreaded chore.  So I started looking for alternatives on YouTube.

I pm’d a person on YouTube a few questions about their method of handling humanure.   Their method was a pit outhouse.   The pit was dug where they intended to plant a fruit tree later.  Once the pit was filled, they dug a new pit where the next fruit tree would be planted and moved the outhouse over to the new pit.   A fruit tree was planted in the old pit.    I asked them if there needed to be a space of time between the last fresh deposit into the old pit and the planting of the tree, how big the hole was, and if they had an estimate as to the length of time it took to fill the pit.

We ended up becoming e-friends.   I mentioned that my plans were to use the pit to empty humanure buckets into and that I did not plan to use the seating arrangement.   I only needed the enclosure to protect others from falling into the hole and to shield it from snow so that I could access the hole easily during the winter.  Therefore I planned to have the structure on sitting on wheels which would hold the structure several inches off the ground.  She then warned me that I needed the structure to sit on the ground to seal the pit from rodents.   Rodents thrive on eating human waste, but their waste can expose me to the Yersinia virus, aka “The Plague”.

This person was a wealth of information for me.   They were helpful, kind, and encouraging.    They removed their YouTube video though.   Reason?   Of the 3,101 comments posted on her video which was only online 3 months, she only had 1 positive response.   Mine.

Improving the soil on our land is important.   So also is encouraging others to do the same.   Just as soil depth is wealth to a farmer, so also is having others on the planet actively taking steps towards a more ecologically sound lifestyle.   More is always better.  Petty bickering about methods and techniques discourages those who are living a consumer driven lifestyle from considering a move to a more sustainable lifestyle.   If they want drama, they can subscribe to Netflix.   I wonder if the most common reason that a sustainable lifestyle is rejected is not because the lifestyle is either hard to live or inconvenient, but because of the online drama associated with it.
 
r ranson
master steward
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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That kind of negative response is why I almost quit the internet.  It's difficult to believe the people writing that stuff are human members of a community.  Then I found permies.com.

Maybe you could invite your new efriend to visit here.  We welcome humanure with open arms.  Poophole for a tree, brilliant!
 
Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
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books food preservation goat hugelkultur tiny house toxin-ectomy
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She would be an excellent addition here.   Unfortunately, though she speaks German, Russian and Spanish - her English is marginal.   The 2 English YouTube videos she made were both done as English assignments.

Maybe we should nudge Paul to learn a new language?
 
John Weiland
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Location: RRV of da Nort
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@Nancy T: "I wonder if the most common reason that a sustainable lifestyle is rejected is not because the lifestyle is either hard to live or inconvenient, but because of the online drama associated with it."

For many cultures, dwindling in number, a sustainable lifestyle was as easy as breathing. The lifestyle is perceived as hard and inconvenient  when viewed from the persepective of the current "civilized meme".   Anyone living embedded within that meme and who believes that the "meme will provide" all answers to all problems will see solutions that are offered from outside the meme as personally and culturally threatening.  In many ways, permies solutions will be seen as coming from outside that meme.

It's nice that your YouTube friend followed your plans and was able to alert you to the possible danger of the Yersinia.  Just as a note of clarification,  the plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, is not a virus....and this is a really good thing, since the bacterium can be commonly treated with standard antibiotics. 

But I agree with R. Ranson as well....when possible, alert others to Permies.com as another place to join in with good information. It's one of the best cross-roads that I found that interlinks so many different disciplines.  Hope your friend comes here even with the language barrier.  It seems some member on the site would be able to assist with any translations.
 
David Livingston
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I would still invite her
David
 
Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
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books food preservation goat hugelkultur tiny house toxin-ectomy
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John Weiland wrote:@Nancy T: "

It's nice that your YouTube friend followed your plans and was able to alert you to the possible danger of the Yersinia.  Just as a note of clarification,  the plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, is not a virus....and this is a really good thing, since the bacterium can be commonly treated with standard antibiotics. ?[/quote

I have been trying to find this answer on the internet - to no avail.   And when you ask "experts", the answer they come up with seems to be filtered through a "poop paranoia" mentality.  They are so strongly against humanure that you cannot get the facts out of them.

Let us assume for a moment a rat with Yersinia is living off your poop and is pooping themselves where you deposit your humanure.   Will normal activity of adding humanure to the pile and re-covering it expose you to the Yersinia?  Does it become airborne when disturbed?   And is washing your hands sufficient to keep you from getting the Plague.

All it would take is one person catching the plague that is in the permaculture movement for the government to make our toilet habits against the law.
 
John Weiland
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Location: RRV of da Nort
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My impression is that Yersinia is not uncommon in the environment and the fact that there is not more infection in humans has to do with a rather restricted (to date) form of transmission.  From the CDC:

"Transmission:

The plague bacteria can be transmitted to humans in the following ways:

1)Flea bites. Plague bacteria are most often transmitted by the bite of an infected flea. During plague epizootics, many rodents die, causing hungry fleas to seek other sources of blood. People and animals that visit places where rodents have recently died from plague are at risk of being infected from flea bites. Dogs and cats may also bring plague-infected fleas into the home. Flea bite exposure may result in primary bubonic plague or septicemic plague.

2)Contact with contaminated fluid or tissue. Humans can become infected when handling tissue or body fluids of a plague-infected animal. For example, a hunter skinning a rabbit or other infected animal without using proper precautions could become infected with plague bacteria. This form of exposure most commonly results in bubonic plague or septicemic plague.

3)Infectious droplets. When a person has plague pneumonia, they may cough droplets containing the plague bacteria into air. If these bacteria-containing droplets are breathed in by another person they can cause pneumonic plague. Typically this requires direct and close contact with the person with pneumonic plague. Transmission of these droplets is the only way that plague can spread between people. This type of spread has not been documented in the United States since 1924, but still occurs with some frequency in developing countries. Cats are particularly susceptible to plague, and can be infected by eating infected rodents. Sick cats pose a risk of transmitting infectious plague droplets to their owners or to veterinarians. Several cases of human plague have occurred in the United States in recent decades as a result of contact with infected cats." --

http://www.cdc.gov/plague/transmission/

So although modes of infection can change, the aerosoled droplets typically must come from coughing from another, or the infection most notably came from flea bites.  Clearly, coughing cats are starting to become a concern. What does not seem to be a common route of entry is direct handling of human or other excretory waste, although for sanitary reasons other than plague bacterium, this is not advisable.

 
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