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The Toilet Papers: Designs to Recycle Human Waste and Water : Dry Toilets, Greywater Systems and Urban Sewage Paperback – March 1, 1978
You can give back to nature those raw materials we now regard as "waste." This book, written by a leading authority on appropriate technology, offers homeowner plans for several types of dry toilets, compost privys and greywater systems. Van der Ryn 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. --- from book's back cover
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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.
To set the tone for this beautiful piece of scatological dissertation, there is a thought in the front to absorb for consideration of where we're going here:
"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.
Finally, there is the Epilogue and I would be amiss in my review if I did not reveal a little taste of it: [Any technology divorced from the whole of nature tends to produce a condition that poet Robert Graves calls "mechanarchy": the perfection of technological means to produce a chaotic sterile environment. The current technology of "waste disposal" (the term reveals the syndrome) is still fighting a war against nature, built on fragments of 19th century science not yet integrated into an understanding of life processes as a unified, but cyclical, whole."] True enough!
An excellent companion book to "Toilet Papers" is Joseph Jenkins' "The Humanure Handbook"- all one needs to know about how to safely compost one's excrement back to a nutrient rich plant food for a full-circle life cycle.