Most people don’t realize how easy it is to compost pee and poop. The use of animal manure to improve soils and crop yields is practiced all over the world, but the idea of utilizing humanure in agriculture typically produces a negative response. Due to ignorance and the lack of practical knowledge, recycling humanure remains one of the last frontiers in modern organics recycling, even though humans have been utilizing excreta to grow food and manage soil fertility for millennia.
Unlike the use of untreated night soil (which is applied directly to fields), humanure composting converts organic toilet material into a safe and hygienic soil treatment through containment, heat treatment and storage time — a combination of low-tech procedures that aid natural processes that destroy harmful pathogens. Humanure composting closes the nutrient loop by returning valuable nutrients and carbon back into the soil to restore fertility without reliance on chemical fertilizers. Composting is a highly effective way to promote carbon farming and mitigate the effects of climate change.
How it works:
Humanure composting is similar to composting ordinary food scraps or leaf litter.
Hot composting treats feces and urine by destroying pathogenic organisms. When managed correctly, humanure compost products are suitable for growing a variety of food crops and trees.
Humanure toilets are inexpensive and very simple in design and management. They do not produce and waste, and they help reduce environmental and water pollution from untreated fecal material. The system can be adapted to many different contexts using locally sourced materials. The humanure system is the simplest form of compost toilet, designed to promote hot composting of human feces and urine, and organic carbon materials. This approach can involve different methods of collection, and either mechanized or manual composting, but the principles of heat treatment, adequate storage time, and end-use are the same. This approach to sanitation is also referred to as compost sanitation, or container-based sanitation.
Humanure composting requires a paradigm shift and change of attitude towards what we commonly think of as waste products. Instead of viewing our own feces and urine as human "waste," the promoters of Ecological Sanitation are encouraging people to recycle and reclaim valuable these valuable products for re-use as fuel, fertilizer, and fodder.
Compost toilets save and protect water resources and help up-cycle valuable organic material to improve soils.