Letter: Black Gold

A humanure toilet (from the Humanure Handbook)

Pooping in clean water has always been a bad idea, and now it’s becoming untenable not only for the citizens of Nelsonville but for humanity. Maybe Nelsonville isn’t facing a problem with overloaded septic tanks (Nelsonville Considers Infrastructure, Nov. 25) but an opportunity to change course and start turning human waste into a resource, also known as humanure.

A humanure toilet (from the Humanure Handbook)

A humanure toilet (from the Humanure Handbook)

Humanure systems, which involve pooping and peeing in a bucket, then covering your offerings with sawdust and composting the mixture outdoors, require little financial investment. To get started, you need a few five-gallon buckets, an outdoor composter and a source of sawdust (or other carbon-rich material). With proper management, which need not be overly laborious, any human can turn poop into the other black gold to fertilize ornamentals, food plants or both, depending on factors including but not limited to the gardener’s disposition.

Since this method of reclaiming human waste involves mixing it only with sawdust or the like and not water, it may legally qualify as a backyard composting operation, as opposed to a sewer system (sewers, by definition, involve mixing poop with water). For more info, see The Humanure Handbook, available through the Mid-Hudson Library System.

Helen Zuman, Beacon


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One thought on “Letter: Black Gold

  1. We are living in 2016: No sewer system? Hard to believe this suggestion or understand Nelsonville’s reluctance to take advantage of what its more forward-thinking neighbors is Cold Spring have done and tap into their system!