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Thread: Composting

  1. #1
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    Composting

    Would anyone care to discuss composting? There was an article in Progressive Architecture magazine awhile back that brought my attention to the composting toilet; this article featured the Swedish made Clivus Multrum. They note that 90% of household water use was contaminated black water from the flush toilet. This system is aerobic and odorless. It cost about the same as a septic tank. Whole Earth Catalog had one designed by an architect; you could build it yourself. It too is aerobic and odorless.

    I once had a rather thick book on composting, published by Rodale. On a larger scale an anaerobic system as on a farm can be used to generate methane gas (the main component of natural gas) which is used for fuel and energy production.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting

    http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/feature/backyard/Compost.html

    http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=Com...p=mss&ei=UTF-8

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I'm pretty into composting. My interest in composting is born more out of me being a cheapskate than true environmental concern, though that certainly plays a significant role. I just figured it was stupid to buy compost when I could make it, all while saving money on my garbage bill and feeling better about my impact on landfills.

    Since no central wastewater treatment facility is available, I have to rely on on-site sewerage facilities. In my case, I have an aerobic system level II (no pathogens), which is a form of composting.

    In addition, I practice what I would call active cold composting using two rotating 55 gal. compost barrels. While I don't precisely measure nitrogen content, etc., I do try to ballpark it to keep it balanced. The barrels get spun every day, which avoids build up of anaerobic bacteria that cause odors. It provides enough compost to easily supplement gardens & landscaping around the house. I stay away from putting meat scraps & dairy in the compost because those items are a little more touchy, pathogen-prone, and stink to high heaven if you screw up your composting mix.

    Between backyard composting and recycling, my waste generation is about 75% less than other people in the neighborhood. I'm one of two households in the neighborhood that I'm aware of that are full-time residents and are able to opt for "by the bag" waste disposal. The other one is my in-laws!

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    I permitted a cabin with a composting toilet. I just had to go see it for myself. I was impressed.

    I now have a small camp ground that is looking at using them in their cabins. Since it will be public I am going to send it to the state for approval.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  4. #4

    Make it mandatory!!!!

    I wish our fair city could make composting mandatory, this would minimize/eliminate the need for leaf pickup in the fall. What a waste of time. Our street crew spends 2 months a year picking up peoples leaves - time that could be better spent actually doing road-work.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    I keep a leaf pile in fornt by the road! Im sure the neighbors in the gated community love it!! Nah they don't care.

    And just when it is alomst gone at the end of the summer, yes the leaves start to fall agin. I keep the leaves on my propery and compost them. BUt most everyone else 1)burns or 2) dumps their yardwaste on private wooded property across the street.

    I really need a tumbler and if I got it closer to the house I would put more veggie scraps in it.

    I ouuld talk trash too, Here you basically get penalized for recycling and reducing waste

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    Citified

    Quote Originally posted by ssnyderjr View post
    I wish our fair city could make composting mandatory,
    I have observed that most people have become too citified to understand such things and would have to be re-educated. That is one of the big problems with the way cities are built nowadays, isn't it? Do you reckon it is really practical to make it mandatory? I think people are becoming more aware of such things with the advent of organic foods now widely available in Supermarkets - that is one step toward their re-education

    I have a fig tree in the small yard under my apartment window where I deposit vegetable scraps such as banana peelings which I run thru a blender. I cover it with mulch from pine straw I gather from the street where it would otherwise clog the storm sewers. If everyone did such things it would probably be a considerable savings in street maintenance and repair cost. I would say we are making progress in that direction.

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    Drum method

    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    ... I practice what I would call active cold composting using two rotating 55 gal. compost barrels. ...The barrels get spun every day, which avoids build up of anaerobic bacteria that cause odors. ... I stay away from putting meat scraps & dairy in the compost because those items are a little more touchy, pathogen-prone, and stink to high heaven if you screw up your composting mix.
    Drum method:

    I would add new waste material as it becomes available, covering this with cellulose material (leaves, grass clippings, straw, shredded paper, etc.) and a thin layer of topsoil until the barrel is full, before turning it. Heat buildup is necessary to disable the pathogens - then there will be no foul odor; it must be well ventilated. The barrel also keeps dogs and other scavengers out and makes it easier to turn - compared to using a fork as with a pile on the ground. It may take six months or longer after turning to become rich, dark, fresh smelling humus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humus

  8. #8
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    we compost at home - it really helps keep down the smelly trash and the amount that we have to lug to the dump - besides, there is no soil on this island, only rocks and swamps, so we need all the help we can get to just plant non-invasive species!

    but for the town, we are looking for composting locations as, if you can dig it, our downtown restaurants want to compost their restaurant waste - many that have larger properties already have the green cones because they don't take too much space and they can take meat - so I am really lucky to have this interest but I don't have a site!

    I wanted to sue the sludge site but the neighbors freaked out so I am looking at another piece of land the Town owns for this - the compost would be great to use for the Town on our annual planting sites so it's a real win win if I can make it work!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    The technology and equipment for large-scale composting efforts are readily available. I used to work for a civil engineering firm that did a lot of municipal work. They got this journal entirely geared to waste professionals. There were always articles about composting, especially for organic yard wastes. A common technique is to form shredded leaves and chipped tree and shrub branches into long mounds called windrows. There are machines available that are designed to turn the windrows to prevent anaerobic conditions and keep them neatly formed. And I'm sure you've all seen those giant shredders for pulverizing tree limbs. They'd have articles evaluating those things. That kind of industrial scale is obviously the more efficient way to do it, but I can understand the satisfaction people find in turning kitchen scraps and yard wastes into fertile soil. I used to do it myself before I became an apartment dweller.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  10. #10
    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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    compost +

    Another tool for reducing the green waste is to eliminate turf areas unless where absolutely necessary.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally posted by craines View post
    Another tool for reducing the green waste is to eliminate turf areas unless where absolutely necessary.
    It's not a problem of reducing green waste but of using it productively that we need to learn the theory and practice composting instead of throwing it away and dumping it - that could be taught in grade school and may already be in some places.



    Quote Originally posted by Jen View post
    I keep a leaf pile in front by the road! I’m sure the neighbors in the gated community love it!! Nah they don't care.

    And just when it is almost gone at the end of the summer, yes the leaves start to fall again. I keep the leaves on my property and compost them. But most everyone else 1)burns or 2) dumps their yard waste on private wooded property across the street.

    I really need a tumbler and if I got it closer to the house I would put more veggie scraps in it.

    I could talk trash too, Here you basically get penalized for recycling and reducing waste :-
    {
    There’s an example of the lack of education that causes contempt for environmental planning and the conservation of natural resources. What if children were taught the art of composting in school only to go home and have their parents scold them for it?

    Confetti flush

    Quote Originally posted by Queen B View post
    I permitted a cabin with a composting toilet. I just had to go see it for myself. I was impressed.

    I now have a small camp ground that is looking at using them in their cabins. Since it will be public I am going to send it to the state for approval.
    Why aren’t they permitted in Cities? While this seems more practical in wilderness cabins, I think they would work in high rise buildings where specialists could be employed to maintain the system. People still have the notion of the old often unsanitary and noxious outdoor privy in mind, but that is not the case at all with the composting toilet, is it? Such urban installations would be a good first step in informing the general public.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 01 Jun 2007 at 12:42 PM. Reason: double reply

  12. #12
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    I had a project where we used the Clivus system. We have several parks that have them. They work really well... no smell. They are not permitted for residential use here however...so they are only on government property.

    I compost at home. .. little hard because my compost bin doesn't get much sun.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

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  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Here in the mountains, we regularly approve off-grid cabins with composting toilets. This is more for practical reasons than environmental, but hey, the end results is the same!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    We compost all our kitchen scraps, save for animal products and breads. We have a pretty big plastic composter that came with the house that works very well, though we have to be diligent about keeping it moist in this climate. Yard waste goes in there, too, and we use it all in our garden. When the thing is really cooking, I am amazed at how fast material breaks down.

    We also have a composting toilet in the guest house. Its Biolet. The thing works great, though the stirrer motor recently broke and needs to be replaced. But there is no odor at all. If you can get used to the idea of feeling like you are going in a pit latrine inside your house, its really a great solution. The quality of the compost is top notch, too.

    One year I also gardened directly in straw bales, which is based on the composting concept as well. This is how it works: you arrange your bales (do this before getting them wet or they are very difficult to move) and then soak them for about 10 days while feeding them large nitrogen loads (I used urea - mmm, horse piss!). This activates and feeds the dormant microbes in the bales and begins the composting process. Then I topped the bales with about 3 inches of topsoil and planted directly in the soil and bales. It worked great for peppers, tomatoes, squash/cucumbers and beans. Anything that requires a lot of root stability like corn doesn't do so well, though, as they just fall over. I have read that potatoes do very well also.

    This process works very well in colder climates (the bales warm up faster than the groundsoil from the sun - its advocated in Alaska). The be st part is the medium itself is constantly in a state of composting, making for some great plant food throughout the growing season.

    Here is a link to a how-to page: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/kg_strawbale.html
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Separator Toilets and Worm Composting

    In Sweden there is growing interest in separator toilets, that separate urine from shit from the beginning. This way there is no need for a built in mechanical system. The urine can be diluted and used directly in gardening etc. It's great for keeping moss out of lawns. Separator and compost toilets are being pushed a lot in third world slum upgrading projects. Not always with great success.

    Then for composting kitchen waste (except for animal products) it is possible to do a lot with worms. In many grade schools here kids are taught how to build and maintain a worm compost - they learn a variety of neat environmental/ecological things as a result. My sister living on the 18th floor in Toronto made her own worm composter and grew vegetables on her balcony. Is this a widely known or used "technology?"

    In another thread I described how my Swedish council encouraged all households to compost kitchen wastes - and cut their garbage collection fees by half when they did so. Even with our long cold winters, we in our family of four, were never able to fill one half of our 1 cubic meter 2 cylinder composting box, it was so efficient. We kept garden waste (grass clippings etc) separate, though we mixed a little now and then in the composter. Don't use oak leaves or other material with high acid content in these composters.

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