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The latest poop. February 7, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Oops. Our friend Ben wrote a blog post yesterday about using treated sewage sludge on farm fields. The advantages to this are that farmers get free fertilizer, reducing their per-acre costs by at least $100 per acre, and that human waste is recycled in a way that benefits the environment, as opposed to building up in landfills.

Our friend Ben championed this on the grounds of my organic upbringing, that composted manure of any kind is beneficial to crops and plants in general.  (Scroll down or type in the search bar at upper right for my earlier post, “Homeowners raise stink over farmers’ poop.”) And that applying human wastes to farm fields was an environmetally friendly way to recycle our wastes.

But it appears that, in this case, organics are against me. Organic farmers are forbidden to use human sludge on their fields, if they want organic certification.

Needless to say, this scares me. If human sludge is so toxic we can’t even apply it to our farm fields, what does that say about us? What kind of life, what kind of health, can we claim for ourselves if organic practitioners deny our waste as viable fertilizer? Yikes. Why are animal wastes acceptable when our own wastes aren’t?



1. Daphne - February 7, 2012

I would think part of the problem is that the waste comes from our sewer system. Anyone can put anything down their drains even if they shouldn’t. I’ve heard that there can be a lot of heavy metals in sewer sludge. Think of the industries that use the sewer system. So it isn’t the human poo that is the issue. It is all the other things that go into our sewer system.

Good point, Daphne. Thanks for weighing in! I’ve read that phthalates as well as heavy metals have turned up in sludge.

2. Bill - February 8, 2012

Our waste has more toxins in the form of radioactive material, medicines and such. Yes, radioactive. If anyone does any medical testing that requires isotopes (sorry the name is escaping me), they become toxic beings. We also consume processed foods by the bulk and this has many items that are not broken down. Now to top it all off, we also like to put non-poo material in our toilets (it’s not for toddlers anymore).

Gack! Radioactive sludge! Sounds like a good plot for a horror movie…

3. pixilated2 - February 8, 2012

Daphne is correct. There have been many reports about the high amounts of heavy metals, hormones, and other drugs that are in our ground water. They got there from treated sewage. It is scary to think about, but it is all around us and we are doing it to ourselves. 😦 I would not be in a big hurry to be putting people poo into my own gardens, no matter how ‘safe’ some may claim it is. Thirty years ago, you could by the stuff (malorganite) at the nursery for home use, then all of a sudden it was banned for sale to the home gardener. This was California, so it may have been different elsewhere. In your previous article, I guess I missed the point… I thought you were talking about composted animal waste. Guess I should have read slower. 😉

Thanks, Lynda! I was trying to remember the name of Milorganite (named for Milwaukee, the first city that offered treated sludge as fertilizer) and it completely eluded me. I remember how excited the organic community was over this development, and then, as you say, it just seemed to vanish. As you say, now look what we’ve done to ourselves (and our precious world)! Sigh…

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