Jun 142008

As is my wont, I was listening to PM last evening, on the way home, when this story was broadcast.

I have to say the crux of the tale makes a lot of sense. Something akin to ‘ashes-to-ashes’ and all that sort of thing. It’s the so-called ‘Yuk!’ factor which precludes a great proportion of modern society from considering the recycling of human waste as beneficial to us, our world and the other creatures we share it with. Frankly, when one considers the quantity of animal waste from feed lots which is returned to primary production usage annually, the question arises of just what would be done with it, were it not recycled. Consider, a feed lot bovine excretes between 25 and 30 kilograms of manure & urine per day. According to some sources, the global cattle population approximates 1.6 billion. If just 10 percent of those numbers are in feedlots, there’s some 14.6 billion tonnes of manure & urine needing disposal annually, not to mention what the other 90 percent are dropping on the ground. According to the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, some 382,000 tonnes of manure is produced from feedlots in Queensland alone, every year. That’s a lot of manure. Yet, we process it and re-use much of it as soil conditioner or fertilizer. We eat what grows from it. We excrete what we eat, but we’re afraid to do with our own manure what we do with animal manure because of the ‘Yuk!’ factor.

Livestock manure contains as many different types of bacteria and microbial life as does our own. E-coli strains, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, they’re all there. Our gut is more complicated because we eat meat, drink alcohol, absorb substances we don’t metabolise but in the main, manure is manure, whether it’s called ‘shit’ or, excreata, faeces, poo, urine or humanure, what matters is that we have the technology to be doing more with it than burning or burying it.

I wanted to know just what happens to my own bodily wastes, so did some reading about the Redland Shire’s waste water treatment program and infrastructure. I came across this. I wonder just what the shire populace would think if they knew the famous Redland’s strawberries were most likely growing in people-poo conditioned and perhaps even fertilised soils. Oh sure, the worms have had a good feed first, but doesn’t that mean the ‘Yuk!’ factor is twice as bad?

Obviously, Redland Shire Council think recycling people-poo is a sound, ecological answer to a growing population base. Burning it adds to the carbon footprint of the populace, and burying it, as the PM story mentioned, is just a waste. Amusing…..wasting waste. I think re-using what we use, what we eat, what we’d otherwise throw away is far more practical and better for the environment than turning a blind eye. Yes, Virginia, your grains and vegetables are growing in people-poo soil, somewhere in this country. You haven’t died from the bread you eat, have you? You won’t get crook from recycled effluent pumped back into dam headwaters either. Long past time the fright freaks in Australia woke up to themselves. Do as the farmers do. Reach into that pile of poo, rub your hands through it, smell it and give it the nod. We’re going to need it eventually. Better to embrace it now.

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