Extreme composting

Written by Doug Oster on .


I've written about Joe Jenkins before, and produced two segments for WQED's OnQ program about him. He's the author of the Humanure Handbook. Don't freak out, and hear me out. Mr. Jenkins' radically different system of dealing with human waste has been proven to work when done right. A recent Time Magazine article highlighting Mr. Jenkins and others who have adopted his system shows that his ideas might be catching on. I've seen the system at his home near Grove City. It's odorless and the resulting compost is perfectly safe to use in the vegetable garden. Have you freaked out yet?

Properly composted human waste produces something that science tells us is safe to use in the garden, but as a society, the concept scares us. The taboo subject is something people don't want to think about, much less talk about, but the issue of flushing our waste into the rivers isn't going away.

In 2004, Mr. Jenkins said this to me about his composting system: "Probably my realistic dream is that the issue becomes commonly understood and accepted as a legitimate issue. I don't expect anything more than that." After reading the article in Time, I think his dream might become a reality.

You can read the Humanure Handbook and learn more about Mr. Jenkins' system here.

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