Make your own toilet and human fertilizer for big green savings

Humanure composting toiletAs we celebrate Earth Day this week, Joe Jenkins wanted to remind people of one of our most accessible, money-saving natural resources. Jenkins is the father of the Humanure human composting toilet, a non-flushing, all-natural commode that allows you to save your excrement and use it for fertilizer.

It has become a must-have for certain eco-warriors, but perhaps isn't so well-known for its economizing properties. On the 15th anniversary of Jenkins' manifesto,"The Humanure Handbook," WalletPop wants to change that.

Jenkins has raised six children using the device at his Grove City, Pa., home. He estimates that you can save between $5,000 and $20,000 on the installation of a conventional porcelain toilet and the plumbing infrastructure to support it.

His water bill is a mere drop in the bucket because for every hundreds of gallons a family of four flushes to clog up the sewage system, Humanure toilet users use a half-gallon per person, per week. Then there's the savings on electricity. Yes, your Cadillac of a toilet (Toto anyone?) requires substantial electrical pumping.

Still not on the human composting bandwagon? The end result is fertilizer that Jenkins doesn't pay for (say, $12 for a 100-pound bag), which yields garden veggies that save Jenkins up to $1,000 a year in grocery bills, he calculated. The savings can run into the high five figures over decades if Jenkins is correct.

"Humanure toilets produce a net dividend that actually produces something that has some value -- in the end what I believe is net profit," he told WalletPop. "It produces soil fertility, which is a necessity for human survival. You're turning waste disposal into a net profit, your dividend being the compost."

Jenkins, who is donating his expertise and Humanure building materials to the tent clusters in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, would love to sell you a fully built Humanure toilet for $195 on the Internet. It comes with a compost thermometer and, like all properly tended compost potties, doesn't stink, he said.

But you can also make one yourself for $25. Details are in "The Humanure Handbook," which Jenkins began as a student at Slippery Rock State and later sold tens of thousands of copies. Here's the short version: bucket, toilet seat, sawdust. Cover your deposit with a layer of sawdust or other wood materials. Jenkins swears the odor is under control.

Just remember: The more that comes out your rear end, the less that comes out of your wallet.

Said Jenkins: "It's like putting money in the bank."

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