In Suderbyn, we only use compost toilets. Three weeks ago, our middle latrine compost box finished its decomposition process of roughly 12 months. During this period, various microorganisms and bugs actively ate, pooped, reproduced and died, turning human feaeces, leaves, sawdust and toilet paper into a well balanced rich compost!
The pile heated up to 55-60 degrees, at which dangerous bacteria such as Ecoli and Salmonella get killed.
After taking out the compost from its box, we will spread it on the fields where "heavy feeders" (plants that need a loooot of nutrients) will grow.
Even though we are 99% sure that all the nasty bacteria that we don't want in our food died, we are still careful: the plants that will grow in this compost, like corn and pumpkins, will produce their edible part away from the soil and since these bacteria cannot travel through the plant body, the only way to get contaminated by a potential survivor would be to eat something that got splashed with compost still containing harmful bacteria and that didn't get washed properly. Very unlikely, especially if one considers that such bacteria are in a hostile environment as soon as they get out of our bellies and that if they don't die in the compost, the other beings in our lively soil will surely take care of them mercilessly.
By now, you should probably be convinced that compost toilets are an hygienic, simple and efficient way to process humanure on site and turn it into a resource.
Sounds a tiny bit better than mixing poo with 10 liters of drinking water (especially on an island like Gotland suffering from water scarcity in the summer), disinfecting with chemicals and releasing it into rivers, knowing that many heavy metals and hormones will poison the wildlife...and maintain a costly sewage system for this.
But composting humanure is much more than this. It's our connection to the land, the way we close the loop and remind ourselves that we are animals.
It's a sacred cycle that allows us to make atoms travel from plants to humans to microorganisms and back to plants in a never-ending magical loop.
From this unique perspective, humans of Suderbyn acquire a new function: processing units turning plants into food for bacteria! It might sound a bit reductionist but it is actually a way to reintegrate ourselves in the complex web of life, as one humble step in a perfect system.
And from this humble soil we sprout as happy stewards of the land.
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