Peeing in a bucket

I promise this is my last post about saving water for a while, but there are a couple of things I want to mention that have cropped up as a result of recent posts.

First, this week I decided that I would investigate a little more how much water we were using in the shower. It turns out that Mr Snail-of-happiness only spends about 3 minutes in the shower, whilst I spend about 5.5 minutes in there. Both times are much shorter than the average in the UK, which is 7.5 minutes. I also measured the water I used, so that I could find out the rate of flow of our shower. Our electric shower, it transpires, delivers about 4 l of water per minute; this is the target suggested by the Energy Saving Trust, so clearly we are not being excessive and I can stop considering changing the shower in order to reduce consumption.

Second, my friend Perkin from High Bank (a fabulous place to go for a holiday if you are looking for a cosy self-catering cottage close to wonderful places for foodies) tried to post a comment on my ‘more water-saving‘ post, but despite repeated attempts was unable to do so. What he tried to write was:

What about urine as a garden fertiliser, either neat on the compost heap or diluted on plants. It has the double benefit of massively saving toilet/flushing usage and of providing a free plant feed. Not the most socially acceptable of ideas, the fact that our compost heap faces a pub beer garden has caused surprise gasps 🙂

Well, we have a relatively private garden, but even so it’s fairly difficult for us girls to introduce urine directly onto the compost heap!

Urine is full of nitrogen and, because nitrogen is water-soluble, it’s one nutrient that gets washed out of the soil very easily. Many farmers (and gardeners) spend lots of money buying nitrogen fertilisers to apply to their land. Inorganic nitrogen fertilisers are produced by energy-demanding chemical reactions whilst all the time we flush away a natural source of nitrogen, treating this fantastic resource as a waste product.

A camping toilet, for discreet and civilised nitrogen collection.

A camping toilet, for discreet and civilised nitrogen collection.

So, Perkin is right – if we want free plant food and to save water, we should be using our pee in the garden. And the solution to collection? As the title of this post states – peeing in a bucket! OK, you may not like the idea, but it’s perfectly practical. Lots of camping and caravaning suppliers sell ‘camping toilets’, which are, essentially, a bucket with a toilet seat and a lid that seals well. Generally, the expectation is that these will be used with chemicals, but there is no need – a nice thick layer of wood shavings in the bottom will soak up the liquid and you can sprinkle more on as required. In fact, this is a great solution because the wood is carbon-rich and the urine is nitrogen rich, so you get a good balance of these two important elements to go on your compost heap. And, all that nitrogen acts as a great compost activator, so composting should happen nice and quickly.

So, don’t be squeamish – turn your waste into vegetables and save water, money and energy.

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  1. Right now I can see the downturn in sales of fresh veg in the shops !

  2. Linda

     /  July 14, 2013

    We just have a male and female version of these ‘bottles’ by the loo and take them away with us when we go camping – also very easy to empty onto the compost heap

  3. John

     /  July 14, 2013

    That wasn’t there last time I visited! It looks like luxury compared to my blokes only milk bottles!

  4. Love it, we also have a diverter so that the grey water from the shower can be diverted to watering the garden. Not good for salad crops but great for fruit bushes and ornamentals. I use an old 5litre washing up liquid container. Long term I aim to build a composting loo. That way there is no flushing at all.

    • We live in a bungalow, so collecting water from the bath/shower has to be done manually, unfortunately. Good luck with the compost loo – currently not an option for us, but maybe one day.

  5. I’ve read that there’s something in male urine (both human and dog) that will deter foxes so there’s something to be said for males marking their territories if you’ve got chickens!

    • Mr Snail-of-happiness is yet to be convinced to mark his territory, but Max the dog is only too happy to oblige!! And Max even mingles with the chickens without incident!

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  2. Dog poo experiments | The Snail of Happiness

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