“When the world is laid waste—where are you gonna lay your waste?”
Prepper Waste Management
As preppers or wannabe-preppers, we are so overtly concerned with being ready for anything. Food, shelter, weapons, medical needs and transportation usually top the lists of what to be ready for, but in the interest of really covering all those bases… where you poop does matter.
As a matter of fact—it matters quite a bit. Most would take the stance of “Eh, I’ll just dig a hole and cover it up as necessary.” The reality though, is digging and covering, digging and covering, over and over again not only becomes tedious—it eventually becomes impractical. Not to mention the fact that not all of us are in rural settings with acres of land surrounding us. The great majority of our great majority live in/around or near more concrete and stone than soil and trees.
Both official and unofficial studies have shown that in more urban developments—even those considered “rural” by true city dwellers—that when disaster strikes and the system breaks down, the places to poop become scarce and more desperate as people will justify moving from overflowing toilets to bathtubs, buckets, closets and entire rooms. Disgusting and unbelievable as it may seem, these are not assumptions. These are documented findings from hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes, worldwide.
So the fact simply is that poop piles up. The ever-growing mounds of solid and liquid stench does what it does best by natures laws—creates lots and lots of bacteria to keep the smell pungent and bring in the flies and vermin. Flies and vermin help nature break down the matter into something that nature can use, like fertilizer. The problem is that flies and vermin also get into your food supply. Tiny legs stepping in waste then fly over and land on your plate of food. Do you want to cross the two? Need I explain further?
If you’re outdoors:
- Dig a hole – You’re in luck! At least for awhile. For a time, you have the opportunity to bury waste. That is until you’ve completely dug up and buried all the surrounding areas of your house, camp, etc… Remember the fact that human waste stays bacteria ridden for quite some time when buried. You are not composting here. You’re giving the bacteria access to moisture and darkness and more organic material to feed off of. It’s been found that the dangerous germ activity can stay pretty potent up to a month once buried. A temporary solution? Sure. But for the long term…
- Dig a latrine/outhouse – Absolutely! Watch any of the six thousand Alaska-based shows on Discovery and Travel channels and you will see that MOST of those cold-loving nut jobs have outhouses (no offense to any readers in Alaska—anyone who likes the cold that much—you know that you’re a nut job). While technically an outhouse is just a big hole dug in the ground with a structure built or placed over it, the difference is that you can add small amounts of fresh soil or even cat littler to the slowly rising steaming piles of refuse that will help control smell and hasten the degradation of the bacteria as the alternating layers fill up the hole. This in turn will keep nearby ground water safer and eventually become usable soil for planting (after a few years). Click here to learn how to build an outhouse from our friends over at survivopedia
If you’re indoors:
- Septic? If you’ve got a septic system then so long as all the plumbing stays intact and well maintained then you are golden. Essentially—it’s a system that takes care of itself. Commercial septic cleaning chemicals will keep your system clean for a good long time. the only issue that literally arises is that eventually the tank will fill up and it will need to be pumped out. If there is no one around with a special pump to do so…you might be digging a pit for an outhouse.
- City water? Here’s where things get potentially problematic. There are few things as horrifying as watching the neighborhood refuse spewing up and out of your bathroom toilet, sinks and anything else on a water line. Ever consider fecal matter coming through your ice maker? I wish I hadn’t either. It really does pay to have special check valves put in place if there is a neighborhood or building sewer backup. If that does happen, whatever you do, don’t flush! In cases of these, move onto the “no water” options below
No water? No problem.
In most cases, if the water has been interrupted or turned off completely, so long as you have access to other available water (you DO collect rain water or have a cistern, right?) you can keep filling the toilet tank and keep flushing away! This is assuming that there are no sewer backups as mentioned previously.
But if the water goes bye-bye and you need to keep what little you have for drinking purposes, then there are some temporary solutions for you so that you don’t keep filling the toilet and bathtub while just hoping it will all magically go away.
- Bags: contractor, doubled trash, or commercial toilet waste product containers can hold a lot of your waste product and then sealed off and “properly” Open these bags into a 5 gallon bucket and get yourself one of those nifty camping toilet seats that fit snugly on top. Viola—camp toilet. But what about the smell?
- Odor removal can be as simple as adding a little of the following to your bucket of fun: bleach, cat litter, vinegar, lyme, plaster of paris, enzyme 300 and then mixed with a little fresh soil if available will do wonders for the stink.
Properly discarding your waste:
- Composting – Your human poop can absolutely be transformed through nature into perfectly good compost to be used for your garden. Equal parts fresh soil and other compostable materials turned in a drum or composter barrel with a little water and air is all you need.
- Burning – Sometimes composting is just not practical. Your alternatives are burying and burning. Burying is not a solution for the same reasons that digging a hole to poop in was not a good option. Burning may be fuel consumptive but it’s better than nothing. The key to burning human waste is that you will need a very hot, very long burning and very contained fire. A steel 50-gallon drum can work but will only last a few burnings. Safety is a factor here as long and hot can lead to disaster if not controlled properly. A wood fire supplemented with a propane hookup to keep it hot and going will work. Be sure to use bags for your waste that burn well and do not give off toxic chemicals.
It’s not a subject that fits well into most decent conversation, but one that every prepare will have to address sooner or later. You can just walk around your house and look at much much we rely on plumbing. Take a stroll through the woods and wonder about “where to go”, and look at that city block and imagine no running water and nowhere to run from the stench of hundreds to thousands of people.