Sustainable tips!!

compost messages

We love to receive email and sustainable tips from our members and the community. This one comes from one of our members, Howard Malone. Thank you Howard for sending us this great article!

SustainableTip: -Waste Not-

Waste management is of vital concern to a sustainable society. Whether the source of fecal waste is livestock or human communities, the problems associated with this waste lay in their concentration in feed lots and waste disposal systems. Human waste is particularly noxious, even when compared to swine or household pets. Urban communities have little choice but to rely on the established systems of sewage disposal. Suburban communities have some latitude in the disposition of waste by using septic systems and lagoons.

Although a far better solution is a composting toilet, there is an alternate solution that equally resolves the problem of waste disposal and contributes to sustainable land use.

Rural farms, and perhaps some suburban homesteads, have a singular opportunity to break free of a cycle of chronic waste problems. Inadequate, outdated treatment systems, which up to now have been little more than a marginally effective necessity to the private landowner, are an expensive and continuing crisis to burgeoning communities. The technology to more efficiently process raw sewage does exist, but it is very expensive and not often utilized due to budget constraints on the part of land owners and municipalities.

Typical rangeland, with one head of large livestock or less per acre, causes little problem in terms of waste runoff, odor or flies. This is because the waste is scattered over a relatively large area. The same principle can apply to human waste on a managed sustainable homestead.

Nearly everyone who has camped out in the woods has at one time or another relieved themselves independently of the established facilities. Wild animals have made their contributions to soil fertility for untold generations, which have neither caused nor contributed to odor problems or ground water pollution. The insects and other elements of nature treat this minor insult as a resource, and the fresh air and sunlight take care of any pathogens.

The solution to human waste disposal on the homestead, other than a composting toilet, is far less distasteful than maintaining a conventional septic system. Two or more acres, five acres being ideal, have more than sufficient area for a sustainable homestead for an average family with small livestock. This means a perpetual woodlot and edible landscape with potential to absorb and assimilate a lifetime of natural organic waste without harm to the environment.

When acreage is plotted on a grid in increments of twenty-five (25) square yards (the immediate living areas excluded), raw human waste can be alternately spread to each plot on the grid, without repetition, for a period of 194 days on a single acre! The obvious chore each day, or every other day, involves no more effort than taking out the trash. The problem of converting the traditional commode is academic. About twenty-five (25) gallons of water can be saved each day by using a sealable plastic bucket, and a little lime, for collection. Though this is entirely out of the ordinary, put into perspective, people tolerate the odor and fly problem of a backyard full of dogs, sidestepping dog poop, in residential neighborhoods, without much thought.

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