"We stand now where two roads diverge . . .the one
‘less traveled by' offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination
that assures the preservation of our Earth."
Rachael Carson - Silent Spring
Humanure can be naturally recycled by feeding it to the organisms that crave it as food. These voracious creatures have been around for millions, and theoretically billions of years, and they've patiently waited for us humans to discover them. Mother Nature has seeded our excrements, as well as our garbage, with these "friends in small places," who will convert our organic discards into a soil-building material right before our eyes. Invisible helpers, these creatures are too small to be seen by the human eye and are therefore calledmicroorganisms. The process of feeding organic material to these microorganisms is called composting, and proper composting ensures the destruction of POtential human pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) in humanure. Composting also completely converts the humanure into a new, benign, pleasant-smelling, and beneficial substance called humus, which is then returned to the soil to enrich it and enhance plant growth.
Incidentally, all animal manures benefit from composting, as today's farmers are now discovering. Compost doesn't leach like raw manures do. Instead, it helps hold nutrients in soil systems. Composted manures also reduce plant disease and insect damage and allow for better nutrient management on farms. In fact, two tons of compost will yield far more benefits than five tons of manure.66
Human manure can be mixed with other organic materials from human activity such as kitchen and food scraps, grass clippings, leaves, garden refuse, paper products, and sawdust. This mix of materials is necessary for proper composting to take place, and it will yield a soil additive suitable for food gardens as well as for agriculture.
One reason we humans have not "fed" our excrement to the appropriate organisms is because we didn't know they existed. We've only learned to see and understand microscopic creatures in our recent past. We also haven't had such a rapidly growing human population in the past, nor have we been faced with the dire environmental problems that threaten our species today, like buzzards circling an endangered animal.
It all adds up to the fact that the human species must inevitably evolve. Evolution means change, or as Rachel Carson stated almost four decades ago, we must realize that we are now standing at a fork in the road. Change is often resisted, as old habits die hard, and flush toilets and bulging garbage cans represent well entrenched but non-sustainable habits that must be rethought and reinvented. You will not find profligate, wasteful, and polluting behavior taken for granted on "the road less traveled."
Consumer cultures of today must evolve toward sustainability.
This is a shift that will likely be fought tooth and nail by those powerful,
non-sustainable industries that stand to lose profits, and by their paid spokespersons
in the newspapers, radio, television, congresses, and senates of the world.
Nevertheless, if we humans are half as intelligent as we think we are, we'll
join together cooperatively and eventually get our act together. In the meantime,
there are those of you who are doing your share, shifting as you can, incrementally,
but surely toward sustainable lifestyle choices. You are also further educating
yourselves, as the reading of this book indicates, and perhaps realizing that
nature holds many of the keys we need to unlock the door to a sustainable,
harmonious existence on this planet. Composting is one of the keys that has
been relatively recently discovered by the human race. Its utilization is
now beginning to mushroom worldwide.
Source: The Humanure Handbook. Jenkins Publishing,
PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127. To order, phone: 1-800-639-4099.