The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure

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Joseph Jenkins, Incorporated, 2005 - Nature - 255 pages
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In the United States, humans take flush toilets for granted. You take your dump into a large bowl of drinking water, then flush it. End of story. That's the civilized thing to do. But where does the flushed material go? What would happen if everyone in the world crapped in their drinking water supplies? Why doesn't any other land mammal defecate deliberately in water? Why do we? These all seem like questions any reasonably curious person would ask once in a while. What if the toilet won't flush? Then what? Using a biological, low-technology system of thermophilic composting, Jenkins has successfully recycled his own family's organic material for over twenty years. The end product: hygienic, nutrient-rich humus, is used to amend the soils in his food garden. Humanure was the inevitable result of Jenkins' two decades of practical experience with composting and organic gardening paired with extensive research gleaned from scientific journals and texts. But this is much more than a book on composting. In it, Jenkins exposes many environmental problems that have resulted from our view of organic materials as "wastes," and reveals what he feels are the underlying reasons why our relationship with the Earth is so dysfunctional. This book gives compelling and detailed testimony as to why humanure should be constructively recycled: to prevent water pollution (almost 4 trillion gallons of sewage effluent are dumped into our coastal waterways each year); to fertilize the soil (rich in soil nutrients, humanure can be safely recycled by thermophilic composting); to protect our dwindling drinking water supplies (nearly 1/3 of all household drinking water is used to flush toilets); and to enhance our health. Fertile soil not only grows great veggies, but nourishes our health and community's well-being.

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About the author (2005)

Joseph Jenkins has composted humanure at his home in Pennsylvania for twenty-six years, while raising a family. During that time he has developed an extraordinary depth of insight into the processes involved. His easy writing style, thorough research, and execrable humor have caused his self-published books to be published on three continents and circulated around the world. Jenkins has received three national awards for his books and has been a finalist in seven other book award competitions. More information can be found on his Web site at

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