About 10 years ago I did work exchange at the beautiful Hostel in the Forest in Georgia. The agreement was room and board in exchange for various tasks required to keep the community functioning. I built a floating raft for the lake, removed the snakes from the chicken coop in the morning, cooked in the kitchen, cleaned the tree houses and worked in the garden.
My forte, however, turned out to be toilet duty.
The toilets at the hostel are compost toilets. The structures look like outhouses and there are 4 on the property. To use one, a person sits on a toilet seat above a hole, does their business and covers it with sawdust. Under the hole is a five gallon pail and on the back of each outhouse an access panel. The person doing toilet duty collects the waste every morning and adds it to the compost bin.
There were three compost bins, each about 6 feet tall and 8-10 feet in diameter. The walls were wire fence weaved with hay. At any given time one is being filled, one is full and “working”, and the other is being used in the gardens. All organic waste from the kitchen and toilets went into the pile. The compost that came out was the richest, healthiest soil Iâ€™d ever seen.
At first I was horrified by the toilet arrangement. The idea of pooping on someone’s poop didnâ€™t immediately resonate. The more I learned about the process, however, the more enamored of it I became and I soon took over toilet duty completely. I felt connected to the cycle of life like never before. I was helping facilitate a process bigger, older and more natural than anything I could imagine.
So anyway, we’re churning through billions of dollars destroying perfectly good cars, right? Maybe we can throw a little bit of cash toward compost education. We can do an ad campaign on recycled, compostable paper, perhaps offer a small tax credit for compost supplies …
A large number of small compost bins across America would go a long way toward reducing waste and the need for chemical fertilizer.
For those of you already composting, check out this list of surprising compost items.
The most surprising to me:
| Latex condoms|
Hair from your hairbrush
Hair from your petâ€™s brush
| Dryer lint|
Toilet paper and paper towel rolls
These items and more will turn into nutritious dirt in your backyard if composted properly.
Beats the heck out of a landfill in Jersey.