Illegal "Humanure" Project is Crap-tastic

The whole process is illegal

By Matt Bartosik
|  Wednesday, Oct 28, 2009  |  Updated 8:12 AM CDT
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Illegal "Humanure" Project is Crap-tastic

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A Chicago group is collecting their own waste to compost and transform into nutritious soil.

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Nance Klehm is dealing with a lot of crap. Literally.

Somewhere in Chicago, her collection of over 1,500 gallons of human waste is slowly turning into compost. The excrement will complete its two-year cycle next summer, transformed into beautiful nutritious soil.

"I've been doing this for four years," says Klehm. "Other people think it's crazy. I just accept it as a way of life."

Klehm, 43, isn't alone in her composting mission. More than 20 people are participating in the "Humble Pile" project. Participants are asked to save their, ahem, waste, in a bucket, cover it with sawdust, and then fill a large garbage can for Klehm to collect and carry away.

At the end of the compost cycle, each participant will receive his/her share of soil.

But Klehm and her fecal friends have to be careful. While producing their own fertilizer may conserve energy and water (no constant flushing of the toilet), their "humanure" is considered illegal. Klehm is violating ordnances on waste disposal and storage, so she stores the material at a secret location to avoid prosecution. If authorities discovered her stash, they'd deem it hazardous and confiscate it.

Perhaps with a giant pooper scooper.

The official website, spontaneousvegetation.net, argues that keeping a sawdust potty is "no more dangerous than wiping." Klehm also ensures that her fertilizer is safe by testing it for E. coli bacteria.

When it comes to the environment, it sounds like Klehm and her friends really do give a shi—uh—compost.

Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, enjoys playing craps.

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