Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure” as Want to Read:
The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  933 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Humanure; waste or resource? Joseph Jenkins boldly steps where no author has gone before. Considered by many a "moving" book, The Humanure Handbook will surprise you with its timely relevance, delight you with its humor, and impress you with its thorough research. Full of "eye-candy" illustrations, practical information, history, philosophy, and science, it addresses an is ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 302 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Jenkins Publishing (PA) (first published July 1996)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Humanure Handbook, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Humanure Handbook

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  933 ratings  ·  86 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure
Dec 31, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book, but not great reading. I was looking for "how to," but the author was so afraid of people's reactions (and rightly so), that he took most of the book warming the reader up with the "why." After a point--maybe the second chapter or so--I got the idea, but he kept repeating himself.

To summarize:
1. Pooping in water is unhealthy and bad for the environment.
2. Poop should be composted.
3. If poop is composted properly, the end result is not dangerous.
4. If it's not composted
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a surprising eye opener to me. I'd always believed the fecophobic assumption that human manure was unsafe. While strongly commending people that compost it rather than flushing it, I also wrongly assumed that this compost was something one had to be highly wary of using.

In the Humanure Handbook, Joseph Jenkins spends a lot of time defending the practice and safety of composting human shit, and using the subsequent humus in gardens. Different than the direct application of "night so
Baxter Trautman
I love this book! It's very readable while also being very scientific, and yes, even spiritual about composting our own waste (see "The Ego Vs. The Eco" section). No, it's not at all gross if done correctly, and yes, people have been doing it since, well, forever! Obviously not everyone has the resources to turn their own waste into good dirt but those of who do kind of have an obligation to at least read this book.
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: homesteading
Why do we piss, shit and vomit in our nice clean drinking water? I can't say I ever considered this question before reading the Humanure Handbook (via a free PDF). Since my guy and I are in contract on a sweet piece of land in the New York City watershed with a rustic cabin and no septic system (yet), I wanted more information on composting toilets and found this amusing and eye-opening screed.

In case you're wondering, my first purchase for "the land" will be a big ole truckload of sawdust so I
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great analysis of and unique insight into waste management, particularly the disposal of human waste (I refuse to use the word humanure). I found a lot of it overly technical and dull, but it was worth it.

Key things I learned:
- Composting human waste makes it safe to use for agriculture
- Asian agriculture uses it without composting, which is dangerous
- Excreting our waste into purified drinking-quality water is really dumb
- Composting closes the nutrient cycle and returns the nutrients in the wa
Rachel B
3.5 stars

A very interesting read overall! I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in "sustainable living." The concept of composting one's own excrement obviously won't appeal to everyone, but this book gives lots of detailed information on the why and how for the counter-cultural.

As interesting as the book was, it begged for a proper editor. The author was very repetitive, went off on unrelated tangents, and simply had an inconsistent writing style throughout the book. Several of t
Jeremy Kinney
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book! Though using human manure for composting is not a popular subject, it is one we all need to think about. Jenkins really puts the importance of humanure into perspective while making it an interesting read and even adding a little humor. This book is definitely for the environmentally conscious person who cares for the future of this planet. I would recommend this book to anyone because, after all, we all poop right?

In his book, Jenkins explains how ridiculous it is to pollute
Jun 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
The most beautiful book ever written about shit. Not only is this something that I fully intend to practice on my homestead, but it is something that I wish I owned land RIGHT NOW so I could start doing it today, and stop wasting all of the valuable organic materials and nutrients my body passes.

If anyone should wish to criticize my praise for this book, please do so with A) proof that the system advocated by the author would not work, or B) a system that would be more hygienic and more effecti
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a great book.

Great book to understand the basis of water pollution from human activity. I admire Joseph Jenkins to have gone against the tide and doing what he thought is right. It's definitely not easy to say the least.
I feel that it has solution to water problem in the developing world.

Nice quote from the author (The world is divided into two categories of people: those who shit in drinking water and those who don't)
Hilarious titles for the chapters are a plus - Crap Happens, Deep Sh*t. :
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can read my full review on my blog. The short version is --- the book has the same pros and cons as most self-published books. The author goes out on a limb about things that don't necessarily make sense and spends far too long defending other things that the reader presumably already agrees with or she would never have picked up the book. And yet, in the midst of all that, self-published books tend to have an authenticity, passion, and non-mainstream weirdness that appeals to me and lets me ...more
Eric T.
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A lot of very good data and information. Unfortunately, one must be subjected to the authors misguided religious/political views in order to get at the raw usable information provided. If you have any reason to be interested in waste management and have the cognitive capacity to exercise discernment, I recommend reading, at least portions of, this book.

(My personal interest in this subject has to do with waste management applications in 3rd world missions.)
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm convinced! We'll be using Jenkins' method when we build our off-grid house, if not before. I've seen it in action a couple times now too; makes good conversation with other eco-minded folk. I continue to be surprised at how many people I find who are already using this method or planning to. Essential reading for anyone concerned about their impact on the planet and finding a better way to deal with our "waste" besides flushing it "away" with our drinking water...
Michaela Hutfles
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you need to be sold on this as a good ideas, read the first half; if you need to understand how to do this because you are already sold skip to the second half.
Great book to hand to your building permit folks if you want to try to actually get this permitted on your property.
He kinda covers gray-water, but I would really suggest a different book if your seriously looking into gray-water reclamation.
Remember: it's not waste it's recyclables.
David Hughes
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sobering yet inspiring read. My favorite quote:

"Less than 1% of the earth's water is available for drinking. Why shit in it?"

I've read so much about nutrient cycling using livestock, and the odor-free deep bedding composting methods used by farmers like Joel Salatin. This is essentially the same thing, but for humans.
Excellent book. Not just for the technique (and there are some great youtube videos to help with this as well), but the great way the author tries to break down our general cultural resistance to dealing with our own shit, literally and figuratively.
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who want to help me save the world
Very encouraging. I look forward to shitting in a bucket in the near future.
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
It is beyond doubt that future historians will look back on our generation and the multiple water shortage and contamination problems we currently suffer from, and wonder how Western “civilization” could have advocated urinating and defecating into what little purified drinking water we have left. I apologize to the light-hearted among my readers for touching on such an apparently foul subject, but the growing global water and health crises stand in such stark contrast with current waste-managem ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to really, really like this book. I wanted to tell everyone that they should read it and that it really would solve world hunger, bring about world peace, stop the soil, air, and water pollution problems that are wreaking havoc on the health of humanity around the world over. I wanted to. I do, after all, have good reason to really like this book. I already compost my family's poop. I fertilize the garden with urea tea. I recycle my greywater, using it to boost moisture levels in the co ...more
Why oh why did I not force myself to finish reading this before starting to build my compost toilet? Here are the things I learned, some of which conflicted with my assumptions about the compost toilet, which I had already done a fair amount of research on before reading this.

- You don’t have to turn piles. Indeed, it saves time and decreases the loss of organic matter and nitrogen if you don’t.
- By insulating a compost pile, top and sides, with straw or even finished compost, this will allow
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was already convinced about Humanure, and this book just proved it all for me. It meant that a few chapters (esp. at the start) felt a bit like padding, but if you're a bit unsure about humanure/composting in general, this book will convince you! One difficulty that I had was ease of reading- I grabbed the ePub, and for whatever reason the formatting went haywire so the tables and grids weren't available for me which was a shame (bit of a numbers guy!) but otherwise this book comes highly reco ...more
Mar 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book's entire idea in a few sentences: Layer the contents of a bucket you do your business in between straw. As you fill up the bucket cover the feces with sawdust each time. Wash out the bucket in between loads. Let that pile compost for three years. You saved the entire world and this compost is totally safe to use on food crops. Also, pee on trees and it saves the world. But if you'd rather spend thousands of paragraphs reading about how great it is to compost human waste and congratulate ...more
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, foreword
Reviewed for Foreword Books Indies awards.

A surprisingly interesting book! The author is clearly passionate about composting and has some practical suggestions for the world, particularly those in developing areas, to recycle human excrement into usable compost. I found myself well engaged in the book, and the author has a friendly manner of presentation. The book appears to be well-researched as well, both from personal experience and from other scientific articles.
Jonathan Schaber
Good read about crap, and what to do with it.

I have asked myself for quite some time: "Well I'm reasonably healthy and so is my family, we are all one of God's creations, but why can't we use our poop in our gardens to grow food like we do with composted animal manure? It doesn't make much sense. We eat the same things every other animals eat, so why not compost our poop along with animals?" This book did a wonderful job of answering those questions.
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
This shit is so important!! It's common sense, really. Composting humanure is truly the only sustainable path into the future. The technique is simple, safe, and shifts our perspective from "waste" to valuable resource.

If this were required reading in schools, I can only imagine the profound impact this would have on the health of our society.

My only critique is that it is a bit repetitive. The same amount of content could be synthesized more effectively into a more concise read.
David Gross
My main problem with this book is that it touts itself as a handbook when it's really a philosophy book with a couple of practical chapters at the end. I was easily convinced that this is something that needs to be considered, so beating me over the head with it for a couple hundred pages before telling me how to go about it was unnecessary and pretty annoying.
Royce Ratterman
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good historical transcript and overview filled with interesting details, statistics, charts, and other pertinent information.
An average of 1,000 pounds of Humanure per year... each. Feeling a bit flushed now? Looking for a stinking fun read?
Read for personal research. I found this book's contents interesting.
Overall, a good book for the researcher and enthusiast.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Humanure Handbook is a great how to and more importantly why-to guide to composting human manure. It's clear, informative, scientific, interesting and at times even humorous. Jenkins is a great writer with a passion and knowledge of nature and ecology is quite thorough, making this work popular for very good reason.
Johnny Stevenson
Wordy and redundant at times, lots of unsubstantiated historical theories about Eastern vs. Western philosophy, but excellent as a practical guide for setting up a composting toilet system. Definitely the best book about shit out there.
Chris Goh
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books ever read. Alter my perspective about sustainability and closed loop system. Earth will be a better place to live if we all practice the principles taught in Humanure Handbook. Will apply the learnings on our farm.
Daniel E.
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love that the author made this important book available for free online! We need global permaculture to restore our habitat and a key to renewing dead soils is just 3o feet away from the last thing we ate...!
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture
  • Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain Into Your Life and Landscape
  • RetroSuburbia
  • Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2: Water-Harvesting Earthworks
  • Wilding
  • Raising Cats Naturally: How to care for your cat the way nature intended
  • Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web
  • The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
  • The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back-To-Basics Guide
  • Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
  • Ecology
  • Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners
  • Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life
  • NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children
  • Night at the Fiestas
  • My Ishmael (Ishmael, #3)
  • The Story of B (Ishmael, #2)
  • Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening
See similar books…

News & Interviews

So many aspects of life and leisure have changed. This is true. It’s also true that we need to take care of ourselves, collectively and i...
204 likes · 114 comments
“We line up and make a lot of noise about big environmental problems like incinerators, waste dumps, acid rain, global warming and pollution. But we don't understand that when we add up all the tiny environmental problems each of us creates, we end up with those big environmental dilemmas. Humans are content to blame someone else, like government or corporations, for the messes we create, and yet we each continue doing the same things, day in and day out, that have created the problems. Sure, corporations create pollution. If they do, don't buy their products. If you have to buy their products (gasoline for example), keep it to a minimum. Sure, municipal waste incinerators pollute the air. Stop throwing trash away. Minimize your production of waste. Recycle. Buy food in bulk and avoid packaging waste. Simplify. Turn off your TV. Grow your own food. Make compost. Plant a garden. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you don't, who will?” 11 likes
“When viewed at the next quantum level of perspective, from which the Earth is seen as an organism and humans are seen as microorganisms, the human species looks like a menace to the planet. In fact, the human race is looking a lot like a disease -- comprised of organisms excessively multiplying, mindlessly consuming, and generating waste with little regard for the health and well-being of its host -- planet Earth.” 6 likes
More quotes…