July 2022 – Peecycling: If you, like me, don’t have a flush toilet in your house, then you might also be a pee collector keen on saving your “waste” for the garden and compost bin. In general, I don’t announce to the world that I pee in a bucket and sh@! in an outhouse but since the New York Times spotlighted “peecycling” on June 17th and CBC’s As it Happens episode followed suit on June 21st, I decided to follow their lead for this month’s Let’s Talk Trash column.
Until the invention of the sewage system, humans collected and used urine as a plant fertilizer (among other things). Urine contains a majority of the excess nutrients secreted by our bodies; nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. These chemicals are commonly found in commercial fertilizers.
A major question in this time of climate driven drought, water scarcity and food insecurity, is how to capture what is valuable from the waste stream? The current worldwide shortage of chemical fertilizer is encouraging growers turn to urine for the nutrients they need. Side note: chemical fertilizers are unsustainable - manufacturing ammonia contributes to 2 % of the global CO2 emissions.
Some fascinating facts from the Rich Earth Institute, an organization in Vermont which collects and redistributes urine from the community to local farms:
9 billion pounds of chemical fertilizer could be replaced with the urine Americans produce every year,
320 lbs of wheat could be grown in a year with the fertilizer from one adult’s urine,
125 gallons of urine is the approximate volume produced by an adult per year,
80% of the nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in wastewater is caused by human waste,
more than 15,000 water bodies in the US are impaired due to nitrogen and phosphorus pollu-tion,
1.2 trillion gallons of drinkable water is used to flush toilets every year, and
the cost of phosphorus increase 270% between 1993-2013.
Gender, age and water intake effect the nutrient levels of pee but typically, fresh urine from a healthy person is sterile. However, if you are on antibiotics or prescription drugs, peecycling might not be recommended for garden application.
The Rich Earth Institute, however, proposes that if we sprinkle pee on the land, a robust ecosystem can break down drugs or biodegrade them over time reducing or eliminating high levels before they reach a body of water and pollute it.
Most of us are aware that lakes, rivers and coastal waters are directly affected by inadequate sanitation. The waste problem is compounded by chemical fertilizer run off from farms. The resulting algae blooms in our waterways trigger mass die offs of aquatic life and plants.
Pee can be pasteurized by storing it in a sealed container for one month in a room temperature greenhouse or heat it for 30 minutes in a solar pasteurizer. I store mine in buckets and use as needed.
If you are applying it to your garden, the dilution rate depends on the plant’s nitrogen needs, salt tolerance and condition of soil.At least 5:1 for nitrogen hungry crops like corn, squash, lettuce, onions, garlic, and brassicas. 10:1 for fruiting vegetables like eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.
It’s best not to fertilize with pee ‘tea’ every time you water. When the plant leaves are a rich dark green, you can back off. Yellow leaves indicate a nitrogen imbalance which pee tea can help restore.
Urine can also go straight on the compost pile to speed up the composting process. Pee is consid-ered ‘green’ meaning it’s nitrogen rich, so make sure you have adequate ‘brown’ – carbon rich - layers to mix into it. Great sources of browns are untreated wood shavings, dead leaves, and shredded cardboard.
If re-purposing your own ‘waste’ stream appeals to you, there are several methods of collecting urine for later use, including the installation of pee diverters into outhouse or toilet set ups.
As global resources deplete and the need to become more locally resilient and self-sufficient in-crease, we are likely to see more innovative solutions like this one
Trash Removal System: July 13, the second Wednesday of the month, 10 am until the barge is full, is the regular trash removal day at the False Bay barge ramp. Any changes due to weather will be posted on the email list, FB Lasqueti Hotwire, and the Lasqueti website. No construction materials, renovation or demolition waste, prohibited waste, organics, recyclable material or stewardship materials. $5 per bag, $25 per average truckload. Mattresses and boxsprings $15 each. Please call Mark if you have any questions about what constitutes acceptable garbage. 8601 or 250 240 9886
Recycling Depot: Fall/Winter Hours Oct 1st-Mar 30th
Mon 10 am - 2 pm, Thursdays 1 - 5 pm
Closed on Statutory Holidays. All recycling is monitored. Please bring it CLEAN and DRY and SORTED.
Free Store: Fall/Winter Hours Oct 1st-Mar 30th
Monday 10 am – 2 pm and Thursday 1 - 5 pm
Please respect the signs. Drop donations during open hours so they can be quarantined. Outstanding items only, i.e. clean, usable clothing and household items. Please, NO food, garbage, recycling, TV’s, soft foam, batteries, electrical devices, mattresses or hazardous materials, ie: chemicals, fluorescent light tubes, prescription/non-prescription drugs, or pills in general. There are recycling programs on Vancouver Island for many of these materials.
Recycle BC Website: www.recyclebc.ca/what-can-i-recycle
Return-It Beverage Depot open 24/7 Front left of Free Store. Open 24/7.
Front left of the Free Store. No refundable glass (beer, wine, hard liquor) bottles, please take these to the nearest Return-It Beverage depot yourself. Yes to aluminum beer, cider, pop cans, coconut water cans, boxed wine cartons (leave them intact) and tetra juice packs, including (rinsed) milk and milk substitute containers. Please leave the caps on and push the straws in and do not crush containers. Labels can be left on.
If you have any questions, comments, suggestions for me and the qRD Let’s Talk Trash team, please get in touch. Jennyv@lasqueti.ca or 8601