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The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste and Conserving Water Paperback – August 1, 1999


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The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste and Conserving Water + The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, Third Edition + The Composting Toilet System Book: A Practical Guide to Choosing, Planning and Maintaining Composting Toilet Systems, a Water-Saving, Pollution-Preven
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (August 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890132586
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890132583
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A classic is back in print! One of the favorite books of the back-to- the-land movement, The Toilet Papers provides an informative and irreverent look at how people have deal with human wastes over the centuries, and at what safe designs are available today that reduce water consumption and avert the necessity for expensive treatment systems. Van der Ryn provides homeowner plans for several types of dry toilets, compost privies, and greywater systems, and also discusses the history and philosophy of turning organic wastes into a rich humus, linking us to the fertility of the soil and ensuring our ultimate well-being. Van der Ruyn is a former architect, and his designs for compost privies are downright elegant as well as environmentally sound. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Sim Van der Ryn has been a teacher, writer, researcher, and practitioner of design for forty years. A leading authority on ecologically sustainable architecture and design, he is Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1961. As California's State Architect in the 1970s, he initiated landmark programs in energy-efficient building and environmentally appropriate technologies. His innovative designs for homes, sustainable communities, retreat centers, schools, and commercial buildings have received many awards and been widely published.


More About the Author

Sim Van der Ryn has been a teacher, writer, researcher, and practitioner of design for forty years. A leading authority on ecologically sustainable architecture and design, he is Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1961. As California's State Architect in the 1970s, he initiated landmark programs in energy-efficient building and environmentally appropriate technologies. His innovative designs for homes, sustainable communities, retreat centers, schools, and commercial buildings have received many awards and been widely published.

Customer Reviews

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By GENE GERUE on May 24, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most farmers and gardeners fertilize soil using manure from the many animals except humans. Because of our diet, humanure is unsurpassed in nutrients. Asians have used it for thousands of years. Generations of families using flush toilets have resulted in psychological negativity--the yuck factor. So humanure is mostly wasted and goes into sewage treatment plants or septic systems, causing much unnecessary expense and pollution of groundwater. The most commonsense treatment of humanure is to collect it, compost it, and then use it for fertilizer for ornamentals and those plants that fruit above-ground: fruit trees, tomatoes, peppers, beans and the like. Humanure composted for a year is indistinguishable from rich soil. Van der Ryn provides here the why and the how.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bugs on October 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
With a title like "Toilet Papers" and from a distinguished eco-architect like Sim Van der Ryn, I needed no intro or review to buy a copy of this little, but well researched historical over-view of effluent mitigation and current eco-friendly toilet design.

This book is filled with good line drawings and photographs to depict everything from the historical perspective to the current dry toilets and their construction.

The book starts out with:

"Throughout this book, you will find the word "waste" used to refer to those raw materials-feces and urine-your body passes on to make energy available to some other form of life. This is what you give back to the earth. The idea of waste, of something unusable, reveals an incomplete understanding of how things work.

Nature admits no waste. Nothing is left over; everything is joined in the spiral of life. Perhaps other cultures know this better than we, for they have no concept of, no word for, waste". And under that thought provoking consideration of resource cycles, there is:

"A sound man is good at salvage, at seeing nothing is lost"- Lao Tze, 500 B.C.

The intro is by Wendell Berry, farmer, novelist, poet. He posits that "modern" effluent mitigation is as insane as drinking right from an un-flushed toilet: "It is not inconceivable that some psychiatrist would ask me knowingly why I wanted to mess up my drinking water in the first place". Indeed.

After the fascinating human waste history lessons, we are given a short crash-course on the biology of waste, then it's on to the fruit of the book: dry composting toilet designs and their efficacy. This is in good detail and makes for a complete handbook on waterless toilet design.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. Krstulovich on October 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
As the world ponders how we will all survive as unpolluted water becomes scarcer and scarcer, eventually one has to ask, 'why do we go to the bathroom in a bowl of fresh drinking water????'

Please don't tell me that it's 'because that's the way we've always done it'.

It's time for this book.

Hopefully, it will be read by people who have the brains and guts and good-natured cleverness to actually do something cool and constructive and environmentally sound about these things.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By GENE GERUE on May 24, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most farmers and gardeners fertilize soil using manure from the many animals except humans. Because of our diet, humanure is unsurpassed in nutrients. Asians have used it for thousands of years. Generations of families using flush toilets have resulted in psychological negativity--the yuck factor. So humanure is mostly wasted and goes into sewage treatment plants or septic systems, causing much unnecessary expense and pollution of groundwater. The most commonsense treatment of humanure is to collect it, compost it, and then use it for fertilizer for ornamentals and those plants that fruit above-ground: fruit trees, tomatoes, peppers, beans and the like. Humanure composted for a year is indistinguishable from rich soil. Van der Ryn provides here the why and the how.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. S. S. Mackinnon on January 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book to replace a previous copy that went misssing. Excellent info on composting toilets and supposedly alternative waste disposal systems. Brings home the point that our so called normal systems are not always the best.
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