I was just forwarded this article from the New York Times
by an alternative energy list I'm on.
Its called the PeePoo, and its a biodegradable plastic bag
with urea crystals in it to sterilize human waste and make it bioavailable. It will cost as much as a plastic bag, which some slum dwellers are currently using.
I have mixed feelings about humanure
. Its actually a subject that hits REALLY close to home for me. I recently had a representative from a local, family owned soil company in Southern California. They offered to donate soil to our Chefs Du Potager project, but when I asked him what type of soil he said much of their stuff was composted biosolids, or sludge.
Growcology is looking to eventually become organically or biodynamically certified, and human sludge is one of the amendments that can compromise that certification process. I told him we couldn't use that, but their potting soil product (which we unwittingly featured in our Tabletop Gardens video) contains no humanure and would be great for our plots if they could spare it.
He said he'd get back to me, he had to go up to San Francisco that evening.
I didn't hear from him again until this morning, but over the weekend an organic farmer on the board of Growcology called me to say that there were protests this week in San Francisco over free 'Organic' compost that had been given out to city residents.
"Organic" compost that contained human biosolids, which is barely regulated by the EPA and can potentially contain huge quantities of VOACs, heavy metals, steroids, etc.
So now I don't know what to think. I found this article
corroborating what our board member told me, but not implicating the particular company we were dealing with. So now I don't know if I should deal with them at all, if they are decietfully marketing their products and spreading potential toxins.
I am personally conflicted beyond just wanting free soil, because philosophically I believe all biological waste SHOULD be composted and recycled through the closed-loop system that is our planet. To just throw away rich nutrients is wasteful.
However, our current lifestyles integrate countless toxic materials into our diet, our medicine, our homes, and our work. As long as people are treating their bodies and homes worse than we treat landfills, the stuff coming out of us will be useless as an eventual nutrient.
Someday compost toilets and technologies like the PeePoo will be much more prevalent, but hopefully those using them won't be filling themselves and the compost bags full of toxins. Its worth re-examining our diets and healing practices, but that is a luxury the people in Africa and India who'll recieve these bags don't have...
photo source: A Design Mafia