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Humanure: Chicago's Fecal Fad

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MarkBoyer

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Dry composting toilets are all the rage these days, and Chicago is no exception. In fact, a group of West Side poop savers are at the forefront of the humanure movement (and they have a blog).

In October, GOOD magazine ran a short piece detailing the practice in Chicago. Led by urban gardener Nance Klehm, a group of 22 like-minded crappers deposit their waste into "dry toilets," or buckets of sawdust. Klehm organizes regular pickups, and takes the waste "to a secret location to avoid prosecution for violating waste disposal and storage ordinances," according to a recent Planet Green article.

Should Klehm's humble pile be deemed hazardous waste, or is it just a case of fecophobia? According to a statement on Klehm's website, not only is it safe, but it will help "prevent total systems collapse." Klehm also tests the stuff regularly for E. coli.

According to the Humanure Handbook (a good bathroom book), fear of humanure "is similar to the phobic person who would never go to a movie theater because there may be someone in the theater who has tuberculosis and who may sneeze. Although this is a risk we all take, it's not likely to be a problem."

In July, the current batch of human waste will have been composting for two full years, after which the nutrient-rich soil will be returned to participants and spread in backyard gardens throughout the city.

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