Is Male Pee Better than Female Pee? The Compost Conundrum
Image credit: National Trust
Ahh, pee—From the selective flush to the shared flush to peeing in public to peeing in the shower, there's almost nothing that seems to bring up a livelier discussion here on TreeHugger than how to treat human urine. And from "why not, peeing in drinking water is gross anyway", to "ugh, could environmentalists get any more disgusting"—reactions to urination alternatives seem to be sharply divided. Now the UK's National Trust, a national charity responsible for the upkeep of some of the country's most precious stately homes, gardens and parks, is wading into the discussion. And they're likely to upset the feminists as well as the pee-phobic, claiming male superiority when it comes to urine. Staff at the National Trust's Wimpole Hall property are being encouraged to pee on a compost bale, saving the organization water, creating a nutrient rich compost activator to feed the Estate's 400 acres of gardens and parkland, and providing a valuable educational tool for visitors.
In the interests of public decency, the pee bale will only be in use outside of visiting hours, but even then it is estimated that it will save upwards of 1,000 individual trips to the bathroom over a year.
But gender segregation is alive and well in the National Trust's toilet policies—the pee bale is strictly for men only. And it's not just about the mechanical logistics of peeing outside, or preserving staff members' modesty, says head gardener Philip Whaites: "There are obvious logistical benefits to limiting it to male members of the team, but also male pee is preferable to women's, as the male stuff is apparently less acidic."
So what do our readers think? Is peeing on compost still gross if the National Trust is doing it? And should we be demanding equal rights for female pee? (Any soil scientists with empirical advice on the relative benefits of male vs female pee are particularly welcome to comment.)