From Pie to Poop

The peo­ple I like most share two things in com­mon:  First, they have open minds.  Sec­ond, while they appear nor­mal, they are in at least one aspect of their lives, utter­ly bat shit crazy.

To be fair, I’ve got my own quiver of crazy, here’s one of my favorite arrows to draw from it:

I shit in a buck­et and I have for 10 years.

Let me go through the thoughts in your head (yeah, I’ve had this con­vo before.)

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That’s dis­gust­ing!

Why?

Gross!

Wait a second…what do you do with the shit?  Oh my God!

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Let me set the stage for you.  I own a house with a flush toi­let that works, my wife (and most guests) use that toi­let.  I live with­in city lim­its on a 3,000 sq ft lot and have neigh­bors on 3 sides.  I’m not way out back of beyond, and we’re con­nect­ed to the city sew­er not a sep­tic tank. There is no rea­son (based on your flawed under­stand­ing of poop man­age­ment) that I should shit in a buck­et.

There’s no easy way to slide into this con­ver­sa­tion.  Shit is just too pow­er­ful a con­cept for some­one to imme­di­ate­ly nod their head and under­stand that what they’ve been doing their whole life is com­plete mad­ness.

Let’s just start with a few truths that you may not have con­sid­ered:

First, the fact that shit seems tox­ic and dis­gust­ing.  That’s incor­rect.  Your poop was just IN you.  YOU cre­at­ed it.  If any­thing is tox­ic or dis­gust­ing, it’s because there’s a prob­lem in YOU.  Shit is not a food, you don’t have to imme­di­ate­ly eat it or build with it or make shit cas­tles in the sand.  In fact, you don’t have to touch it.  Shit is a resource, not a prob­lem. You just have to learn how to use it.

Sec­ond, why does it make sense for you to shit in drink­ing water?  Yes, drink­ing water.  That’s what’s in your toi­let.  A lot of time and ener­gy went into get­ting that water drink­able, and you just shit in it.

Third, after buy­ing the drink­ing water and shit­ting in it (adding val­ue), you send it back!  What kind of Amer­i­can does that?  That’s like buy­ing cof­fee in a paper cup then pour­ing it into a nice ceram­ic mug and hand­ing it back to the barista to sell to some­one else.  WTF?

You have to under­stand that your poop is just a step in an end­less cycle.  If you think for one sec­ond that the food you are eat­ing was made in a cute lit­tle vac­u­um with­out fer­til­iz­er, water, earth, or ani­mals, well, you’re just flat out wrong.

When you try and dis­tort or break a nat­ur­al cycle you end up with much big­ger prob­lems than the sim­ple act of dis­tor­tion.

You waste thou­sands of gal­lons of drink­ing water.  You increase the tax­es you have to pay because every time you flush you affirm your part of the agree­ment that we should shit in our drink­ing water and then man­age it.  Not cheap.  And dumb.  Is that real­ly you?  A tax lov­ing and prof­li­gate idiot?  Wait, we just had a very close elec­tion.  Nev­er mind.

Like I said at the begin­ning, I’ve been shit­ting in a buck­et at my house for 10 years.  I’ve been using that shit (along with all our kitchen scraps) to make com­post.  I’ve used the com­post to grow fruits and veg­eta­bles. I’ve freely fed any­one who came by with peach­es, berries, figs, pome­gran­ates, and veg­gies grown with that com­post. All the pro­duce grown on our lit­tle plot is super healthy and deli­cious.  I’ve had zero com­plaints about taste, health, or any kind of fol­low-on sick­ness.

In fact, our house is well known in our neigh­bor­hood for hav­ing the health­i­est and tasti­est gar­den around, and we are con­stant­ly asked how we do it.

It’s not mag­ic, it’s a sim­ple sys­tem, and if you fol­lowed it you’d be hap­pi­er, health­i­er, and wealth­i­er.  But you’d be con­sid­ered weird, and most folks place fit­ting in over hap­pi­ness, health, and wealth.  The odds of you doing the right thing are heav­i­ly against you.

Luck­i­ly for me, when it comes to fit­ting in, I also have a field of fucks I grow.  Cast ye thine eyes upon it and thou shalt see that (unlike my gar­den) it is bar­ren.

Ok, sav­ing water and mon­ey isn’t enough for you?  How does liv­ing in a war zone sound?

Humans fight wars for resources.  Right now we’re fin­ish­ing up fight­ing for oil, and if you thought the oil wars were bad, wait until we’re fight­ing over water.

Those cute lit­tle bumper stick­ers (on the backs of oil guz­zling cars) that say “No war for oil”?

There won’t be any of that when your fam­i­ly is dying of thirst.  You won’t have time for hypocrisy, you’ll be too busy curb stomp­ing your neigh­bor for water­ing their grass.  Trust me, you’ll fight.

You can ride your bike if gas gets expen­sive enough, but there’s no alter­na­tive when you don’t have water, not at any price less than blood.  I’d pre­fer to con­tribute as lit­tle as pos­si­ble to start­ing World War III, espe­cial­ly if the alter­na­tive is as easy as buy­ing a three dol­lar buck­et and spend­ing a day build­ing a toi­let stand and two com­post piles.

Com­mon Ques­tions:

Q: “Did you tell your neigh­bors that you just fed them a poop-berry?”

A: No, I didn’t.  In the same spir­it that the cur­rent source you’re get­ting your fruits and veg­gies doesn’t tell you that they sprayed the food you’re eat­ing with insec­ti­cides, grew it with fer­til­iz­er made from oil, har­vest­ed it from mas­sive trac­tors that destroyed habi­tat and in the process mixed up insects, ani­mal turds, and small ani­mals with your “organ­ic” toma­toes, then washed them off with a chemical/water spray you wouldn’t drink and wrapped them in plas­tic that you throw away where it will last a few thou­sand years in a giant dia­per, aka a land­fill.

I don’t feel like rub­bing it in my neighbor’s face that they just made the best pos­si­ble eco­log­i­cal choice com­plete­ly by acci­dent, and if they knew about the right choice they prob­a­bly wouldn’t have made it.  I tend to try and pro­tect peo­ple from their own igno­rance and stu­pid­i­ty, even if it means tem­porar­i­ly with­hold­ing the truth.

Q: “Doesn’t it stink?  I mean, you’re shit­ting in a buck­et!”

A: Shit stinks, that’s the hard fact.  You flush it down a toi­let (we’ve talked about the insan­i­ty of this already.)  I cov­er it with cof­fee chaff, which is a waste prod­uct that comes from roast­ing cof­fee.  My toi­let actu­al­ly smells more like fresh cof­fee than poop.  I have neigh­bors who are just 10’ away from my toi­let.  It was 8 years (YEARS!) before they built a deck and were able to look over my fence and real­ize (sur­prise!) they now had an excel­lent view into my out­door bath­room. Not only that, they quick­ly real­ized that I squat on the toi­let, native style, so we had a talk about that too.  I’ll save squat­ting for anoth­er arti­cle.

Back to smell man­age­ment:  When I dump the buck­et into the com­post pile, I cov­er it with about a foot of dry straw.  No, the smell doesn’t get out.

Q: “Doesn’t it stink when you spread it out on your gar­den?  I’ve smelled horse manure com­post before, and that stinks!”

A: By the time I actu­al­ly use the com­post (for­mer­ly shit and kitchen scraps and straw), it’s been rest­ing in the com­post pile undis­turbed for at least 6 months, and some­times a year.  It is com­post, not shit, and smells like fresh healthy grow­ing mate­r­i­al for plants.

Q: “Do you have to turn your com­post pile?”

A: No.  We com­post aer­o­bi­cal­ly, not anaer­o­bi­cal­ly.  We do this by plac­ing lots of lay­ers of straw in our com­post, which cre­ates inter­sti­tial spaces that pro­mote aer­o­bic diges­tion.  Ask any 14 year old what inter­sti­tial means, it’ll give you a good indi­ca­tion of whether or not they’re get­ting rea­son­able school­ing.

Because of all these lit­tle air pock­ets through­out the pile, we don’t have to turn it.  We just add a lay­er of shit ’n scraps, then a lay­er of straw.  The worms and bac­te­ria cruise slow­ly upwards through the pile and con­vert our waste stream into high grade top qual­i­ty fer­til­iz­er.

Q: “Isn’t it dan­ger­ous?  I mean, shit is real­ly scary stuff full of bac­te­ria and tox­ins!”

A: Stop it.  Seri­ous­ly.  It just came out of you!  If there’s any­thing harm­ful to you in it, it would have killed you already.

Q: Ok, ok, what about when you’re sick, or have food poi­son­ing?  Aren’t you cre­at­ing a com­post pile full of lis­te­ria ready to turn human­i­ty into con­stant­ly flow­ing shit spig­ots?

A: No.  With­in the active part of the pile there are “ther­mophilic” bac­te­ria.  They come from your healthy gut, and as their name sug­gests they LOVE heat.  In fact, they make things so hot that every­thing else around them can’t take the heat (includ­ing all those bad bac­te­ria you just fire-hosed out your ass), and the bad bac­te­ria are burned to death.  It’s pret­ty awe­some.

Q: Ok Nik, my mind is open­ing up just a lit­tle bit to this.  Where can I read more (so I can prove you wrong and con­vince you to shit in drink­ing water again)?

A: The bible on this is The Huma­nure Hand­book, by Joe Jenk­ins.  Buy it, read it, live by it.  The dude is awe­some.

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