When we moved into our off-grid yurt in the spring of 2016, the first thing we built was an outhouse (for obvious reasons). We chose to employ the humanure method of managing and composting our bodily byproducts (poop and urine), so that we could reduce our waste creation, shrink our footprint, and — just as important — capture and keep all the good nutrients in human poop and pee so that we could literally re-cycle it.
Here’s an overview of our particular setup, and then a short video checking in on the aged humanure compost to see what it looks like.
What We Compost in Our Humanure System
The shortest answer to what we compost in our humanure system is “EVERYTHING.”
Do we compost our poop? Duh. Toilet paper? Yep. Can we also compost our pee? Most definitely. And that is in addition to all of our kitchen and food scraps.
That said, we don’t eat much meat (Annie is vegetarian and I am also largely vegetarian by default), so we don’t have much meat in there.
The only thing we haven’t been composting is dog poop, but that’s only because walking around and picking up dog poop would just be another chore we don’t need.
Our Composting Toilet Setup
The humanure system at its most fundamental is just a bucket that you poop in and then dump into the compost. The simplest thing you could do is get a camping bucket toilet like is used on river rafting trips.
We wanted some better aesthetics, though, so we built a box in our outhouse and put a toilet seat on it, so that you can’t see the bucket until you lift up the lid to take the bucket out and empty it.
For carbon and cover material we simply use pine shavings that we buy in big compressed bags from the farm and garden store in town. I’ve heard mixed opinions about using softwood shavings versus hardwood or versus sawdust, but it has worked perfectly fine for us here in the climate of southern Vermont.
How Long Does Humanure Take to Age?
We have two separate compost bins built with pallets (the easiest compost bins in the world). We filled the first bin within about a year and a half of living here, and then left that one to age and started filling the second bin.
Now that the first bin has aged for about 18 months, it’s ready to be used as compost. Take a look at the video below, which is our first time breaking into our humanure compost.
I’d call our humanure a great success! And now we can use it on our fruit trees and berry bushes!
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