Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pee in the Public Interest

My New Thing is pee. Well, not actually a new thing. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know it comes up … frequently. But never in quite this pee-as-a-public-service way.

It all started with a camping trip to the new K’esugi Ken Campground in Denali State Park. The individual campsites are so luxurious, the tent sites are carpeted in beautiful grass. Imagine sleeping on grass instead of pebbles and gravel!

Our friend Bruce came by, looked at the grass, and muttered, “Great outhouses, and they couldn’t go there to pee.” I didn’t understand until he pointed out the greener circles of grass, polka dots of bright green.

“I thought pee killed grass.”

“No,” Bruce said. “In the summer, it fertilizes the grass. See, they just got out of their tents and peed nearby.”

If your brain hovers in the sewer, this starts the gears turning. What about that little patch of grass that Tim says just won’t grow because of shade? What if I gave it a little boost?

So I got a paper cup, hid it in the bathroom, and (when Tim wasn’t home) secretly peed into the cup, ran outside, poured it over the unhappy patch of grass, ran back inside, rinsed the cup and hid it. I did this a lot.

I didn’t tell anyone, but I secretly watched as the grass began to turn green and thrive.

I still didn’t tell anyone. But then my friend Sarah told me about a Planet Money episode on NPR.  Apparently, fertilizer requires phosphorus, and most phosphorus comes from Morocco, and there’s concern we could run out. So in Vermont, the Rich Earth Institute launched the Urine Brigade to collect pee, pasteurize it, and take it to a hay farm – where it doubled the yield of hay!

They say we each pee about 125 gallons a year, enough to grow 325 pounds of wheat. It’s recycling!

So I told Tim. Then I moved on from his patch of grass to my phlox, which just won’t grow as extravagantly as my friend Robin’s. I poured my pee on a part of it, still a little worried I might kill it. It grew denser and puffier in that spot!

So now I’m back at it. (Are these things you’re supposed to announce in public? Yes, if it encourages people to recycle their phosphorus back into Nature!)

Anyhow, in the meantime, Tim had to repair the innards of our toilet with a new mechanism. The new parts said I couldn’t use the cleaner I usually use on the toilet. Over time, my immaculate, spic-and-span toilet began to develop limescale, and it looked totally gross in the little back areas of the bowl where my brush couldn’t reach.

I attacked it with my pumice stone. I attacked it with vinegar. I attacked it with a scouring pad, with a brush. I attacked it with Comet. With baking soda. I fought the scale, but the scale was winning.

Then I turned to Google: they recommended Coca-Cola. So I now pour Coca-Cola into my toilet bowl.

Tim turned to me and said, “You’ll pour Coca-Cola into our toilet but you won’t pee into it because you’re pouring your pee on our garden. Do you think other people live like this?”

Why wouldn’t they?


  1. I’m going to give it a try. ☺️

    1. Good news for your garden (or your toilet bowl?)!


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