Ode to Poo . . .
A primary criterion for a successful culture is to realise a balanced relation between the processes of growth and the processes of decay.Our modern society, which values growth and looks upon the processes of decay as waste, is radically out of balance.
A standard toilet system mixes one part excreta with one hundred parts clean water, sends the mixture through pipes to a central station where billions are spent to separate the two. It then
dumps the effluent , now poisoned with chemicals, but still rich in nutrients, into the nearest body of water. The nutrients feed algae which soon use up all the oxygen in the water, eventually
destroying all aquatic life that may have survived the chemical residues.
All this adds up to strange balance sheet: the soil is starved for the natural benefits of human manure, garbage and organic materials that go down the toilet, the drain and to the dump. So, agribusiness shoots it up with artificial fertilizers made largely from petroleum. These synthetics are not absorbed by the soil and leach out to pollute rivers and oceans.
We each use atleast 30 litres of fresh water per day, 900 litres per month, and 10800 litres per year to flush away material that could be returned to the earth to maintain its fertility. It is estimated that a quarter of all urban sewage is dumped into the water.
Our excreta - not wastes but misplaced resources - end up destroying food chains, food supply, and water quality in rivers and oceans.
Nations endure only as long as their top soil. How did it come to pass that we devised such an enormously wasteful and expensive system to solve a simple problem?
Excreta is one of the few substances of material value we ever return to the earth. Our body is truly a resource out of place . . .
The rivers, bays, oceans around half our urban areas are cesspools.
The waste we seek so hard to ignore threatens to bury us . . . .
The dry composting toilet is simply a toilet seat with a bucket below to receive the waste matter. After every use, fine dry soil or saw dust is added; the bucket is emptied periodically. The contents are then composted aerobically with other organic materials. Natural ventilation is provided through a pipe connected to the chamber below.
The history of the dry toilet can be traced back to China and Japan, where, from centuries ago, "night soil" has been scrupulously collected to fertilize the fields. The advent of sewers in the 19th century, and health problems resulting from water borne treatment of waste, sparked an interest among medical people and sanitarians in this type of toilet system. A variation of the dry toilet, the can privy, was used in many American cities until the 1930's.
It has been said that " a gram of prevention is better that a kilogram of cure".
All of us are responsible for the world we will leave to our children, we need to do what we can and when we can.
The use of composting toilet systems can make a real and significant contribution to the environment; so that our lakes, rivers and streams will continue to run clear; so that tomorrow's world will be even better than today's.