Latino State News
Little Village Residents Go Green With Human Waste Recycling
Little Village resident Nance Klehm, 44, likes to think of herself as a “bio-instigator.” Since 2008, Klehm’s Humble Pile project has converted human waste into compost for use by gardeners.
Klehm started Humble Pile in the spring of 2008. Twenty-two people signed on to use a bucket, each using a five-gallon bucket for three months. Sawdust was used to help break down the material and to prevent odors.
Participants said they were surprised at how NOT unpleasant the composting toilet was, saying, “It wasn’t really stinky. What you could smell was the sawdust, actually.”
The contents on the buckets were transferred to 32-gallon bins, which Klehm then picked up and transported to a secret location to compost.
In August, portions of the 1,500 gallons of collected material were returned to the contributors for gardening or growing vegetables. “Everything that I’m trying to do is to connect people to the land that supports them, from literally under their feet to providing oxygen and food,” Klehm said.
Another participant says he has used it to top-dress his plants, including ones that grow food. He has noticed “no difference in taste, and I’m feeling great.”
“Going green” doesn’t have to just be about the environment. Recycling projects like Humble Pile create compost that gardeners can use, while also conserving water.
It is estimated that the United States used about 410 billion gallons of water each day in 2005, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report. More than 30 percent of those gallons flush our toilets, which we average five times a day, according to the nonprofit American Water Works Association and its Research Foundation in Denver.
By cutting back on toilet flushes, families can stop “flushing money down the toilet.”