Composting and Humanure

One of the aims of Tatnam Organic Patch, never yet realised, was to provide a focus for community composting of food and organic waste. The problem for us has been one of times of access, and getting potentially overwhelmed, and with possibly non-organic materials. However, we should all find a corner of our own garden for a compost heap, and add to the fertility of our soil by re-using food waste.

Compost enriches the soil, reduces the need for fertilizers or other  additives, and helps retain moisture without watering. The Rainforest floor is very fertile, because the canopy trees  bring up nutrients which they deposit to rot down for smaller plants to benefit from. The same is true in deciduous temporate forests.

Humanure – composting toilets

 – compost from human excrement – a fertilizer or a hazardous waste ?  – I blame the Victorians, Thomas Crapper in particular.

Notes  from Gary;

Just for interest compost toilets came up in our Bournemouth climate change adaptation workshops.  Also when you look at climate change on an international level and peak oil, I think human faeces will be a very important resource, fertilizer or electricity production”

Justus Von Liebig and Alderman Mechi (Nineteenth century sewage doctors) thought that Joseph Bazalgettes new sanitery sewer system was a criminal waste of potential fertiliser because it discharged its contents into the Thames and they calculated this lost “wealth” to be worth £4million then!

Karl Marx commented “London could find no better use for the excretion of 4.5million human beings than to contaminate the Thames with it at heavy expense”   How much is it costing us now?  We import water in the form of food from overseas that we then use drinking water to flush away for further treatment which invariably will be lost at some rate (through heat) and certainly not returned to the country of origin.

The environment agency are apparently only concerned where a composting toilet arrangement discharges directly into a watercourse. Faeces and urine are  a part of the natural cycle of returning nutrients to the soil.

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