Structuring Our Homes to Work With the Local Environment

People who put a lot of thought into the environment will usually strive to reduce waste. This can manifest in a wide variety of different ways. Saying that humanity uses a wide swath of resources would be an understatement. And likewise, this leaves considerable room to reduce one’s overall environmental footprint. This can be as simple as avoiding plastic bags as the supermarket. Or one might work to rely as much on solar power as possible.

There’s one area that people often forget about when considering overall waste production. And it’s often because it’s simply a type of waste that we don’t like to dwell on. But if we spend some time considering the matter of humanity’s personal biological waste than we can see some important ways to reduce its impact.

It’s just a matter of fact that we take in food and produce waste as a result. But it’s important to remember that this is a complex and continual cycle. We are, ideally, just one iteration of this larger cycle. This cycle is often conceptualized in three parts. The carbon, nitrogen and water cycle. For example, consider the process of an animal eating a vegetable in nature. It takes in the plant matter and water within it. It excretes both into the ground. And worms or insects then break things down to the component parts while the liquid travels to either larger bodies of water or evaporates into the atmosphere.

Now, we can consider how something similar could be accomplished with our own waste. Many people will be pleasantly surprised to find that some or even most of this has already been implemented within their home. If a home uses septic tanks than part of the process is already finished. Some tanks are manually drained. But others make use of a septic drain field. Transition from one to the other is really only a matter of surface design.

A drain field needs to essentially act as a biological filter. It shouldn’t come as a shock to hear that much of our waste contains pathogenic viral or bacterial contaminants. The drain field acts as a filter of sorts. The surface substrate should be porous, but also block these biological hazards. This typically just requires a combination of fine grain and permeability. The plants on the surface of a field also help process the various forms of waste.

One can now reconsider just how all of this will fit into the previously discussed cycles. Biological matter and water originates in a distant location. It then makes its way onto our dinner table. We digest this food and water, and it eventually ends up in our bathroom. From there it moves to a septic tank. And finally, the water moves out into the septic field.

Once in the field the liquid is absorbed by roots in the soil above. This automatically removes viral or bacterial contaminants. Other liquid will percolate to the surface while being purified by the substrate. And finally, the solids will end up processed by worms or insects and eventually become fertile soil. This process does require some thought and planning. But it can vastly reduce one’s overall environmental impact.