Image credit: Loveable Loo/Joseph Jenkins
Whether I am writing about recycling poop as a key to sustainable farming, or reviewing Gene Logsdon's guide to managing manure, it's not uncommon for commenters to rave about the Humanure Handbook. I've yet to read this famous tome for myself, though I have posted a video of author Joseph Jenkins explaining how to compost human poop. And now I've just discovered that for the time-poor, or DIY-shy, Mr Jenkins and associates are actually selling composting toilets fully assembled or as kits. And they'll set you back a lot less than some of their high-tech counterparts. Constructed of locally milled hemlock, and supplied with everything you need to start your own humanure composting system—including instructions, a temperature probe to ensure proper compostig is taking place, and even a signed copy of the humanure handbook—the lovable loo seems to pretty much be an off-the-shelf solution for your home composting toilet needs. (You will still need to construct your outdoor composting bins.)
Compared to fancy high-tech compost toilet gadgetry, these humanure toilets are definitely on the lower end of the budgetary scale. It should be noted, though, that they are designed to be used with the methods outlined in Joseph Jenkins' book, and as such do require ongoing labor and attention—though not as much as you might think.
Jenkins' proposed system also differs from the enclosed, relatively anaerobic composting toilets of old, whereby you deposited your waste directly into a composting chamber and allowed it to, errm, mellow there at relatively low temperatures (peeing is discouraged in these types of toilets). Instead, humanure systems readily accept both number ones and number twos, and use hot composting methods to ensure a quick turnaround of usable compost, and a safer process for breaking down potential pathogens. That said, they require regular emptying into an outside composting system, as well as periodic monitoring.
Given the relative complexity of the subject, and the potential dangers that might result from poor technique, I won't go into any more detail. Suffice to say that these products should not be used without a thorough understanding of the subject. But given that Joseph Jenkins wrote the book on humanure, and is now supplying the toilets to put it in, I'd say you are in good company.
More on Composting, Manure, and Human Bodily Waste
Composting Toilets: Ready for Prime Time?
Bio-Lux Composting Toilet: A New Throne for Your Home?
Joseph Jenkins Explains Humanure Composting
Is Recycling Our Poop Key to Sustainable Farming?
Is Male Pee Better than Female Pee? The Compost Conundrum.
Manure Runoff and Amish Farming Raising EPA's Ire
The Selective Flush: If it's Yellow, Let it Mellow