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175 of 179 found the following review helpful:
K.I.S.S.Aug 06, 2005
By Beverley A. Sutton
To anyone who believes that once flushed the contents of the toilet are "safe" and "away", I recommend reading this book. To those more informed who are looking at an expensive commercial composting toilet ... I recommend reading this book before you make your decision. K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid!
Joe Jenkins offers an inspiring, humorous, well-researched and well-written book. He makes what should be a very obvious point ... flushed "away" or thrown "away" doesn't mean gone ... it merely means "someplace else", and worse ... someone else's problem.
We live in rural AZ where, as far as I am concerned, deliberate water wastage should be considered a crime. Defecating and urinating into our rapidly diminishing, precious water supply is the true definition of madness! It is time for the world to wake up and remember what Nature has always taught ... the function of all organic matter is to enrich and replenish the soil.
For those worried about contamination and their health ... I offer these words (coincidentally from another composting toilet book that, other than this quote, isn't worth the paper it's printed on!):
"Healthy humans excrete healthy E. coli (only some strains of this bacteria can make you ill) and other healthy bacteria. If you are healthy, and you compost your excrement, then you use this on food crops, you will not infect yourself with any diseases that you did not have before"
Regardless, a properly designed and maintained thermophilic compost pile, as per Jenkins' instructions, will reach temperatures in excess of 160 F (71 C) and this is proven to kill all known pathogens (disease causing organisms) in 24 hours. He recommends that the capped (i.e. no new additions) pile stands for at least a year before use, absolutely ensuring its safety.
I simply do not understand how people can blithely trust commercial manure (from cows and chickens known to carry the most dangerous forms of fecal organisms) and yet are afraid of their own humanure?
Yes ... at times the book is a little repetitive ... but perhaps like many teachers Joe knows that many people have to hear the facts several times before they truly listen and understand.
We've been living on our homestead for just over a year now ... and our first "Joe Jenkins Method" humanure compost pile is capped and waiting for us to harvest its bounty next spring. Using his method ensures there are NO odors, NO flies, NO problem with marauding animals, and best of all ... NO WASTED WATER!
THANK YOU JOE!
59 of 60 found the following review helpful:
This Book Improved Our Lives!Mar 11, 2003
This book improved our lives as soon as I finished it! Thank you Joe Jenkins! After living for four years with a well known brand of composting toilet, the sawdust toilet in this book has finally given us simple living. I read this book cover to cover the day I got it. My husband built it in one hour and we started using it. Simplicity at it's best! Everything in this book makes total sense. I only wish I'd bought this book four years ago when we first moved to our homestead. I highly recommend it-it should be required reading to live in this country!
71 of 74 found the following review helpful:
This book rocks. A Microbiologist forgot to mention:Mar 29, 2005
By Lieutenant Homunculus
Keep in mind that the author of this book composts his humanure with all of his other compost material. By properly placing the humanure material in the center of your larger compost pile you will eliminate any sort of pathogen disaster that A Microbiolgist warns of. Granted, his concerns are valid, but don't despair, composting humanure is easy and sawdust toilets are most excellent party favors.
35 of 37 found the following review helpful:
Value of this books far exceeds its titleMar 11, 2001
By Scott Willing
One could be forgiven for thinking that this is just another "how-to" book, albeit a bit off the beaten path of woodworking manuals and the like. Not that "The Humanure Handbook" doesn't deliver practical information. On the contrary, the book empowers the reader to exploit a vital and overlooked resource, and to eliminate personal contribution to a chronic source of pollution, water and power waste in the bargain. (Trying doing *that* with a router.) The methods described are cheap and simple. And the author puts his money where his mouth is, espousing methods he has personally employed for over two decades, and backing this practical experience with impressive in-depth research.
This much easily justifies the purchase price, but there's much more here than "A Guide to Composting Human Manure".
The Humanure Handbook dispels some fallacies of commonly accepted and widely repeated composting techniques. Even if you're already an avid composter (and I was) chances are Jenkins has some surprises for you (and he did).
As social commentary, I can think of no other "how-to" book that tells such a compelling, frightening tale of blind assumption and culturally ingrained self-destructiveness. We see with startling clarity how the "civilized" world has combined ignorance, chemistry and technology to convert a needed resource into a nightmarish and wholly unnecessary problem. We are forced to confront the false assumptions each of us has unconsciously absorbed. And, by extension, we are forced to question how many other fundamentally bad ideas have become invisibly institutionalized in modern society.
Unlike many preachy indictments of modern life, however, The Humanure Handbook provides answers rather than merely posing questions. The solutions can be applied on any scale, from personal to global, in virtually any climate and economic environment.
If I have a quibble with the book, it is that key concepts are repeated extensively. I suspect some fierce editing could boil the book down by a fair chunk. To an extent, the repetition is by design; most of the book's chapters can be read in isolation, and it makes a superb reference volume. I suspect most readers who get through the introduction will end up reading it cover to cover, and a bit of repetition is a small price to pay for a message that is vital, practical, maddening, empowering, humorous, and inspiring.
*Everyone* should read this book.
67 of 75 found the following review helpful:
Answers those childhood questionsAug 31, 2001
By Elayne Hoover
I remember when I was 6 years old and first learned that manure = poop = fertilizer. I wondered why wild-animal poop was good for plants but people poop had to be flushed. It never made sense to me.
When I first saw this book, I thought it was a joke and I didn't even crack the cover to see what it was about. However, recently I decided to take up organic gardening and I ran across the Humanure concept again. This time, it was clear that the book is not a joke. It is serious! But it is also tremendously exciting. Now, whenever someone says the word "compost" to me, grin and my eyes light up. I can't wait to build my own sawdust toilet and finally add my own poop to nature's cycle, the way I've wanted to since I was 6 years old!
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