Grow With the Flow–Pee On Earth Day is June 21st

Start drinking water, friends–Pee-On-Earth Day  is coming fast!  On June 21st (also the Solstice, of course) people across the hemisphere will be celebrating the clean, phosphorous and nitrogen rich liquid we produce every day.   Green design theorist, William McDonough (coauthor of the iconic Cradle to Cradle:  Remaking the Way We Make Things), likes to say, “Waste is food.”  In the natural world, all biological waste, both plant and animal (including both daily waste products and dead organisms) provides nutrition for the whole system.  By removing human waste from the biological cycle, we contribute to a net loss of nutrients.  Instead of mixing urine with pristine water, then using more water to flush it away, then even MORE water and energy to clean it all up again, Pee-On-Earth day invites us to re-think the ways we use the water and wastes we take in and flush out of our homes, starting with PEECYCLING–nourishing plants  and soil with our very own “liquid gold.”  Join the celebration!

Peecyle directly or by peeing into a container you can carry outside and:

–Apply to soil or woodchips

–Add to your compost pile (pee helps leaves and woodchips to compost more quickly)

–DILUTE with 9 PARTS WATER to 1 part pee and pour around (not on) plants (distribute widely to prevent nitrogen burn).

Goodness, I hope my friends will still eat salad at our house after reading this!

For more information on the process and hygiene of peecycling, see Carol Steinfeld’s book, Liquid Gold:  The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants.

No matter what you think about peecycling, it’s time to reconsider our shockingly wasteful water treatment system.  Separating wastes and toilet paper at the source, rather than mixing them directly with clean water, makes good societal and ecological sense. The wonderful folks at Eco-Waters, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit, are exploring ways to incorporate source-separation, graywater use, and composting privies into our everyday lives. Steinfeld’s newest book, Reusing the Resource:  Adventures in Ecological Wastewater Recycling, available through the Eco-Waters website, is enlightening.

Meanwhile, the invitation to awareness offered by Pee-On-Earth day is a great place to start.

At dawn on the Solstice (also the anniversary of my wedding to Tom!), I will be, inshallah, climbing the ruins at Tikal, Guatemala with my family.  I promise I will not pee on the ancient, sacred ruins!  But I will be thinking of you all, and wishing you a beautiful Solstice in the spirit of another favorite William McDonough quote:  “Celebrate Fiercely.”


  1. An interesting idea, Pee on Earth. I just read about pee rags today on Grist. I do want to caution those people on medications, peeing on earth might be poisoning it, if your body does not absorb and break down your meds. One of the problems sanitary districts are facing is an increasingly medicated population and how to keep the drugs out of the ocean.

  2. Brilliant! I am a big fan of peeing outside and around the garden. My grandmother always said it deters pests and rodents. But, I was too embarrassed to admit it until now! Thankfully I live in the country and can have a private outdoor pee.

  3. Sharon

    What a concept! My husband has been trying to convince me of the practicality of this for years and now he is finally vindicated. I think most men consider the outdoors as their own private latrine anyway! I printed this for him to read and can just hear him saying, “I told you so.”

  4. I’m not scared of your home-grown salad — I say bring it on. The Romans used to “launder” their togas by soaking them in urine — which may explain why their leaders were sculpted nude (and why their public baths were so enormous and elaborate). Anyway, great post. I’m off to the compost pile.

  5. Oh, Lyanda! So what if we’ve got a couple of cute goats? YOU’ve got an anniversary at Tikal!

    I will be thinking of you as we (chickens, goats, humans) do our own peecycling. The thing about living in the (almost) country is that the girls anoint the ground (directly) all around the garden (with great glee) — to deter the critters who like to eat our harvest before we can.

    Happy anniversary, dear ones! Come visit the goats? They ate my prize rosemary plant tonight — if that helps dampen your goat ardor. (Dampened mine!)

    Love from Maine…

  6. Joshua

    it’s a comment on our culture when someone finds it “sick” to put nitrogen back into the soil and “sanitary” to poison the water by sending nitrogen into rivers.

    Just because flushing toilets and pouring toxic blue perfume into them, and putting the garbage “out” makes our waste disappear from view, doesn’t mean that it disappears from reality. So which is sicker, friend Barb: putting waste back into the cycle of life or using it as a poison for rivers?

    But the world is full of Barbies, God bless us. May we all get over ourselves and wake up to reality.

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