Thursday, March 12, 2009

Outhouse and Fertilizers

With respect to the energy intensive fertilizers, there is a solution that solves two problems, and has to do with the toilets we use. We flush tremendous amounts of nutrients down our toilets. Frequently this causes problems because these nutrients wash out into the ocean (if after heavy rains the sewage treatment facilities is overrun for example) causing unnatural plankton growth which then chokes off life in the ocean. I recently read an article about a new Chinese toilet which separates liquid from solid waste reducing both water use and time in the sewage treatment facility, as well as facilitating the recycling of waste as fertilizer. A key adjustment to confronting peak oil will be recycling our waste as fertilizer.

An outhouse will come in handy. Reduces water use, avoids ocean pollution, gives us a bio-fertilizer. A compost toilet can be very simple, as simple as a plastic bucket (with a top) and for comfort a toilet seat. One can use saw dust to cover the odor. It is important to cover, if the urine soaks into the sawdust it smells, if there is a dry layer on top it's okay, even in the house. Dry composting material such as leaves works as well as saw dust. The bucket gets emptied once a week. Then one needs 2 compost heaps. You fill one compost heap for a year. Then you move it to another for another year (meaning it composts for at least one year). Then after a minimum of composting of 1 year it is a good fertilizer for the garden.

Urine has a lot of nitrates and is hence useful. Peeing directly on plants however is not be the best idea. It is preferred to urinate in the outhouse or onto the compost pile and thereby let the bacteria work on the urine and break it down over time so that the plants can better utilize the nutrients.

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