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A Lesson Learned from a kitchen-scrap saving Renter of Apartments  RSS feed

 
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This post is directed toward Mr. Hartley, who is visiting the forums this week.

Dear Mr. Hartley and anyone else who can get a good laugh out of this story,

I rent a small apartment in the Midwest, actually on Lake Michigan.  For reasons I couldn't understand, my landlord seemed to be very distant and not altogether openly friendly.  On an unusual day, he spent some time telling me about his two previous dogs, both of whom had died from the blasto fungus that plagues Lake michigan.  He explained that the blasto fungus is caused in part by the human feces that are dumped into the Lake.  (This does routinely happen.)  He said he moved to the Lake so he could swim every day, but after having two dogs die, he feels he can no longer go near even the water's edge.  I sympathized with him.  

One day, the toilet was running, and just as I was about to contact the landlord (especially as he pays for the water), he knocked urgently on my door, telling me the water sensor had gone off.  I explained what was happening, and HE yelled as he said "none of this shit started happening until you came!!"  I began renting the apartment in February of this year, and nothing of serious consequence has malfunctioned during that time, except for the faucet being sticky, which I did ask him to take a look at.  I asked him if he was implying that I had caused the toilet to malfunction.  He replied passive aggressively/yelling: "well, it never had a problem before with the previous tenants."  

he proceeded to storm out of the front door of my apartment, and then whirled around and yelled: "and what IS THIS?!?!?!" - pointing to the beautifully shiny 40-gallon steel garbage can on my porch, complete with animal-proof tight fitting metal lid.  I replied that I was happy to tell him what it was for, and that the only reason I did not tell him previously is because he had never asked.  I explained that I sprinkle the bottom of my garbage can (I use a 5- gallon bucket) with the wood shavings stored in the 40-gallon garbage can, so that my kitchen scraps do not become stinky during the week. I then said that at the end of the week, I take the kitchen scraps to an official composting site licensed by the City of Milwaukee.  

I explained that putting our food waste into the landfill causes problem, just as putting human waste into the Lake causes problems, such as the blasto fungus that killed his dogs.  Thus, we should rather take our food waste to the official composting site, and that we should also compost our human waste.  He stormed off yelling, and drove away in anger.  I was completely taken aback and cried several times that afternoon and evening.  He was abusing his power, by implying that I had caused the toilet to malfunction, which is classic abuser behavior.  They blame others for the things that they are actually responsible for.  As this wasn't the first time he had implied that I had caused an appliance to malfunction, I felt his behavior, combined with the yelling inside of my home, blaming, and swearing constituted abuse.  He was abusing his assumed powerful position over me as a landlord, and he was also abusing his position as a man, using his voice and taller body to intimidate me while yelling in my front hallway.  

The toilet continued running, getting worse by the day, but he didn't fix it, which was confusing as he pays the water bill.  I felt obligated to try once more to inform him of the issue, which I did via email, and he came over to fix it while I was gone.  I came back while he was still fixing it, and he left immediately.  He did not return until I ran to the beach to use the beach house bathroom, as I had to go!  lol!  and I didn't want to go pee while he was still in the process of working on my toilet.  I guess he just couldn't face me.  lol!  after that, I told him that I was happy i could fulfill my obligation and avoid him needless water expense, also adding that "I did not cause this issue, nor the issue with the faucet, regardless of whether you acknowledge this, or whether you acknowledge the abusive way you spoke to me.  I don't accept any form of abuse from men without labeling it."

That got him going!  wooeeee!  he then revealed his true character, slinging a large mountain of poopy manipulative assaults via email, including "it must be awful to always be the victim."

I then asked him several times to treat me with respect, which includes, at minimum, speaking to me calmly without raising his voice, without swearing at me, and without accusing me of causing things to malfunction which are clearly malfunctioning due to normal wear, as is the case with a toilet seal, or whatever the problem was.  he continued the assaults and taunts, and then proceeded to ACCUSE ME OF COMPOSTING MY FECES ON HIS PROPERTY.  

every time i think of this i just start laughing.  laughing, because it is so ludicrous that he came to this conclusion from our conversation about wood shavings.  It was easy to reply that I was not composting anything on his property, including feces, and that my feces go directly from my butt into the toilet bowl.  LOL!!   He then proceeded to accuse me of "attempting to bring in a 40-gallon garbage can of sawdust into the apartment, which would be a fire hazard."  i told him he was mistaken, and that there would be no purpose in taking up space in my small apartment with a 40-gallon garbage can of shavings.  I again asked him to treat me with respect in the future, and that I found it interesting but not surprising that he would not acknowledge that he did not treat me with respect, nor could make a simple commitment to do so going forward.  I added that abusive men don't acknowledge nor apologize for their tactics or behavior as a rule.

he then threatened to vacate me and sic his attorney on me.  As he has no grounds to vacate me I didn't address that, but I told him to please involve his attorney if he feels it is necessary, as I welcome an investigation in to my conduct, as it would only prove I've done nothing wrong.  He then turned his attention to my renter's insurance policy, saying he requires all of his tenants to have $500,000 worth of liability instead of the standard $100K, in case the tenants burn down the mother-in-law suite (which I'm renting).  Although this was not in the rental agreement, I decided it wasn't worth fighting.  I'll pay the extra $27 per year.


I wanted to share all of this because I think it is hugely entertaining, but also, when I do leave this apartment, which I probably will this fall, I want to give my landlord several parting gifts.  I thought that one special gift would be to provide with examples of "first-world" governments that encourage their citizens to compost their manure, regardless of the method....reed bed, humanure lovable loo style, or whatever.  I'm wondering if Mr. Hartley might have any resources which might be perfect to use as this gift?  I've also considered giving my landlord a copy of the "Humanure" book.

Any other suggestions?  

Moral of the story: if you're going to put wood shavings at the bottom of your garbage can to absorb moisture and odors from kitchen food waste, make sure your landlord knows you'r putting your feces in the toilet.  LOL.


*edit* I've since googled blastomycosis a bit on google, and thought i didn't spend too much time digging, it wasn't able to find an obvious link between lake poop-dumping and blastomycosis fungus.  i have no doubt however that lake poop-dumping is having a variety of negative effects that make the water unhealthy for animals or humans.
 
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Hi Peter, it sounds more traumatic than entertaining to me... Either way, if you'd like some government resources, here are some examples that may be helpful.  

Public Authority Endorsement in Ireland and Worldwide:
Public authorities are increasingly taking a more proactive approach towards compost toilets. In some countries their use is so taken for granted that specific infrastructure is available. For example in Holland the use of dry toilets is relatively commonplace on the canal house-boats. In that instance a urine-separating remote-composting toilet model (Nonolet Recreatie) is sometimes used and the resulting dry solids material is simply lifted out in a purpose-made biodegradable bag and placed in the local authority “greens” bins for removal and municipal composting. Note that this practice would only be appropriate where it is specifically accepted by the local authority, as it is in Holland, and where the composting set-up is sufficiently controlled for adequate break-down of pathogens.

In addition to the reference to compost units in the EPA Code of practice in Ireland, they have been detailed in other (Irish) EPA and government documents both in Ireland and elsewhere. Some examples of relevant guidance documents or government reports include the following:

Dubber, D and L Gill (2013) EPA STRIVE programme 2007-2013. Water Saving technologies to reduce water consumption and wastewater production in Irish households. EPA, Wexford.  

EcoSanRes (2008) Guidelines for the Safe Use of Urine and Faeces in Ecological Sanitation Systems. EcoSanRes and Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden. The EcoSanRes programme is funded by the government agency SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency).

EcoSanRes (2008) Guidelines on the Use of Urine and Faeces in Crop Production. EcoSanRes and Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden.

Environment Agency (2008) Regulatory considerations for disposal of solid and liquid wastes from composting toilets. Environment Agency, UK.

Environment Alliance (2006) Pollution Prevention Guideline No. 4 - Treatment and disposal of sewage where no foul sewer is available. Environment Alliance (Environment and Heritage Service, Scottish EPA, UK Environment Agency), UK.

EPA Victoria (2013) Guidelines for Environmental Management: Code of Practice - Onsite Wastewater Management. EPA Victoria, Australia.  

Ormiston AW and RE Floyd (2004) Auckland Regional Council Technical Publication No. 58 (TP58) Onsite Wastewater Systems: Third Edition. ARC Technical Publication 2004, Auckland Regional Council/Te Rauhitanga Taiao, New Zealand.

US EPA (1999) Water Efficiency Technology Fact Sheet - Composting Toilets. USEPA, Washington DC.

US EPA (1980) Design Manual - Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems. US EPA, Office of Water Program Operations and Office of Research and Development Municipal Environmental Research Laboratory. USA

Waitakere City Council (2008) Waitakere City Council's Sustainable Home Guidelines - Wastewater. Waitakere City Council, Wellington, New Zealand.

West SM (2003) Innovative On-site and Decentralised Sewage Treatment Reuse and Management Systems in Northern Europe & the USA. Report prepared to benefit the Sydney Water Corporation, Australia. (Sarah West is also the author of the Victoria EPA Code of Practice)

It is clear from this sample of international government agency documentation that humanure composting is a widely accepted form of sanitation that offers much in terms of water conservation, water pollution prevention and sustainability.

I hope that you find this helpful.

Best wishes,

Féidhlim Harty
 
Peter Chan
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Feihdlim,

Thank you so much for sharing these resources!!!   AWESOME!  and you're right, it was very traumatic, but he's not related to me, so at least when I leave, I no longer have to deal with him.  I've had previous abuse experiences with in life from family members, and those are chronically traumatic without careful thinking and planning.  It is extremely disheartening when I have interactions like this one with my landlord, when I realize that there are people so opposed to dealing with waste responsibly that they would use the mere concept as a way to degrade me and make me seem as a lunatic worthy of eviction, but to know that here are also people like you in the world bolster my heart and I sleep a little easier again.  For our children's children's children's children's children!
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Thanks Peter, for your kind words.

:-)

Féidhlim
 
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Peter: I often have problems with people (there's damage to my brain caused by seizures as a child) I sometimes ask one of my sisters what I could have done correctly to keep a situation from going as bad as it did. Something she told me about a nasty mess I was upset by might apply to you on this mess too:
It's NOT you. There is nothing you can do to make some people rational. You are doing it all correctly, he is reacting how he is despite what you do. Don't take it personally, it's HIM not you.

You sound like you are making sense to me, and he is reacting to something in his own head.
Amazing how weird other people's heads can be.
Good energy at ya, don't let the clueless mess with your head :)
 
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