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Guerrilla Greywater: Living Off the Grid

Tips from KALW news on some do-it-yourself waste management.

The process is pretty simple: the poo bucket is under the house. It gets emptied once a week into a larger rain barrel. Once it’s full, Laura covers it and lets nature take over. And in one year, voila! You have humanure.

And you might be wondering – what about the smell? Well, the sawdust, coupled with an air vent, creates an anaerobic process: it doesn’t smell. Laura’s bathroom actually smells clean, with a hint of cedar wood, thanks to the sawdust. And the urine? Laura collects that too, in a separate container which she uses as a fertilizer for her garden. Human urine is rich with nitrogen, which plants need to grow. She almost gets more excited about urine diversion than composting.


In Laura’s bathroom, there’s a large photo of a few ears of corn. Some were fertilized with urine harvested from her toilet; some were not.

ALLEN: You can see in the picture that the zero-urine corn is tiny – like two inches tall. And the cobs that received the most urine are big, yellow, and, like, eight to 10 inches long. So it’s very visual, how well it works.

Note: the group no longer calls itself a Guerrilla group to avoid association with other meanings of the word. I guess they decided it would be too hard to reclaim the word and strengthen the non-violent associations.

In 1999 we named ourselves the “Guerrilla Greywater Girls” as a tongue-in-cheek response to a draconian California plumbing code that discouraged the simple, low-tech greywater systems we promote. A few years later we changed our name to the “Greywater Guerrillas”, to reflect the multi-gendered composition of our collaborators. As we worked more closely with government agencies and regulators, and began collaborating with A Single Drop in countries where “guerrillas” has violent implications, we searched for a name that would represent our goals and strategies to a diverse and international audience. In 2009, we chose a new name— Greywater Action- For a Sustainable Water Culture—for our appropriate technology education projects. We’re also developing an umbrella group that connects the art, appropriate technologies, theater and cultural transformation around water.

Posted in Energy, Food, Security.

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