Wastewater Gardner Cover

The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time

By Mark Nelson

Illustrated 220 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover

ISBN: 978-090779151-5

$9.99$34.95

Mark Nelson, PhD, takes us on a global expedition to learn how we are wasting the world’s dwindling supplies of fresh water by flushing away a very valuable resource, our own human wastes!

By Mark Nelson

Illustrated 220 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover

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Mark Nelson, PhD, takes us on an award-winning global expedition to learn how we are wasting the world’s dwindling supplies of fresh water by flushing away a very valuable resource, our own human wastes!  A founding director of the Institute of Ecotechnics, Dr. Nelson has worked for several decades in closed ecological system research. As one of eight brave souls enclosed in the pioneering Biosphere 2 experiment, he realized how essential the proper re-use of human waste is to the health of the planet. This led to what Dr. Nelson calls a life-long love affair with constructed wetlands, where he discovered an important solution to some of our trickiest global dilemmas: Wastewater Gardens. While the problems covered in this book are very serious, Dr. Nelson’s approach to the subject makes for a delightful, down-to-earth read.

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Reviews

  1. (verified owner):

    The Wastewater Gardener takes a global look at how we are misusing one of the world’s most valuable resources: human waste! Dr. Mark Nelson, who has worked for several decades in closed ecological system research, says that not only are we wasting a free, natural fertilizer, we’re polluting our dwindling supply of fresh water. In the book, Nelson offers a brief history of how we got into this sh*tty mess—and proposes a way to get out of it.

    Dr. Nelson builds Wastewater Gardens—constructed wetlands that act like a “kidney” to treat wastewater—all over the world: the Yucatan, Bahamas, Philippines, France, Morocco, New Mexico, Australia, Bali. He is currently working on “Eden in Iraq,” restoring wetlands in the Iraqi desert.

    In the book, Dr. Nelson offers large-scale ideas for what he calls managing the “Fecesphere” as well as tips for individuals wanting to conserve water (composting toilets, low-water use appliances). He also asks readers to consider a simple idea each time they visit the loo: the travel itinerary of waste. Because, as he says, “We change the world one small step at a time, one flush at a time.”

    Everyone poops, but where does it go?! Eco-researcher Mark Nelson proposes an alternative solution to flushing away the valuable resource of human waste

    The Wastewater Gardener takes a global look at how we are misusing one of the world’s most valuable resources: human waste. Dr. Mark Nelson, who has worked for several decades in closed ecological system research, says that not only are we wasting a free, natural fertilizer, we’re polluting our dwindling supply of fresh water. In the book, Nelson offers a brief history of how we got into this “shitty” mess—and proposes a way to get out of it.

    Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, human feces were regarded as a resource—fertilizer, medicine, face cosmetic—not as waste to be disposed. Now, in our “modern, civilized” society, indoor plumbing has changed that. Dr. Nelson says, “While some praise indoor plumbing and the flush toilet as sterling achievements, for others, it is the height of insanity to use drinking water to dispose of human waste and then wash it away into large bodies of water, spreading the potential for pollution of all Earth’s water bodies.”

    What is the solution to keeping waste out of our drinking water? Wastewater Gardens—constructed wetlands that act like a “kidney” to treat effluent and purify all water, using only plants, microbes, sunlight and gravity.

    Dr. Nelson began a life-long love affair with constructed wetlands while managing the sewage system of Biosphere 2, the most notable biological experiment of the 20th century. Since then, Dr. Nelson has constructed wastewater gardens all over the world—from the Yucatan to the Bahamas, from the Philippines to France, from Morocco to New Mexico and Australia. He is currently working on projects in Bali and Iraq.

    In the book, Dr. Nelson offers large-scale ideas for what he calls managing the “Fecesphere” as well as tips for individuals wanting to conserve water (composting toilets, low-water use appliances). He also asks readers to consider a simple idea each time they visit the loo: the travel itinerary of waste. Because, as he says, “We change the world one small step at a time, one flush at a time.”

    Link to Review

  2. (verified owner):

    Books of Note: The Wastewater Gardener – Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time
    “As ecologists say, everything is connected to everything, and how we manage and mismanage our shit, is a crucial part of the global challenge of our times,” writes Mark Nelson, author of The Wastewater Gardener.

    Since we at Green Building Elements write considerably about water, waste, and wastewater, this book caught our attention. And for good reason. This is a direct analysis of issues that require being addressed, understood, and mitigated, even in small, but smart steps.

    Nelson brings a considerable background to the table. He is an ecosystem engineer and researcher, and one of the original “Biospherians.” Holder of PhD, he is chairman, CEO, and a founding director of the Institute of Ecotechnics, a UK and US nonprofit organization consulting on several demonstration projects working in challenging biomes around the world. He is head of the Biospheric Design Division, Global Ecotechnics Corporation. Founder and director of Wastewater Gardens International, he designs and implements sewage treatment and recycling systems using constructed wetlands.

    “There are several modern symbols of ecological crisis,” states environmentalist Tony Juniper, in writing the this book’s foreword “Gas-guzzling vehicles, airliners, coal-fired power stations and landfill sites are among them. While few people would add flush toilets to the list, there is increasingly good reason to see why that might be the case.”

    Link to Original Review on Green Building Elements

  3. (verified owner):

    Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own and may differ from your own. This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

    The Wastewater Gardener brings a new idea to light when it comes to gardening. In an era of using clean water to water our gardens and fertilizer, Mark Nelson brings an interesting idea to the table. Using our own human waste to fertilize our gardens of fruit, vegetables, and flowers. All across the globe, this has been done with amazing results. But don’t take my word for it. Watch this quick video below to learn more about his unique gardening ideas. Talk about self sustainability!

    This might be an idea that freaks some people out. But in today’s world, we have to take new ideas into consideration (extreme or not) if we want to sustain our planet for future generations.

    About the author:
    Mark Nelson, Ph.D., is an eco-system engineer and researcher, and one of the original “Biospherians.” He is Chairman and CEO, and a founding director, of the Institute of Ecotechnics, a U.S. and U.K. nonprofit organization consulting on several demonstration projects working in challenging biomes around the world. He is also Vice Chairman of Global Ecotechnics Corp. and consults on wastewater reuse and recycling using Wastewater Gardens, subsurface-flow constructed wetlands.

    Original Review from AFulfilledMommy

  4. (verified owner):

    Review of Mark Nelson’s The Wastewater Gardener
    My word, has it really been since April since I last wrote a post? If you’re missing me, no worries, I can be found almost daily on my Facebook page and the link is there in the sidebar.

    I’ve just finished reading The Wastewater Gardener and I have to tell you before I get into it that it’s all about shit. It’s true. Mark Nelson is the Shit Guru. He’s been playing in the stuff for the last 30 years, first as a young graduate restoring a depleted, sickly property called Synergia Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico, then for two years while living in Biosphere 2, a completely enclosed and sustainable habitat, and now he has travelled the world designing and building waste recovery systems that are used to grow vegetation, reclaim land, increase health of ecosystems, annnnnnd eliminate the need for, sometimes, dangerous waste disposal. He is a shit disturber in the best sense in that he has bucked status quo and introduced us to a new, healthier, more responsible paradigm.

    With an estimated world population of 9 billion people by the year 2050 we need to pay attention to books like this and people like Mark Nelson. Demands for drinking water are always on the increase so why are we using it to flush our toilets, why are we using it grow food? Why are we sending our wastewater to treatment facilities and why are we not reclaiming a “natural resource”? These questions and then some are all answered here. I don’t know if it’s the fact that Nelson lived in Biosphere 2 for two years but he approaches wastewater management like he’s still in an enclosed, recirculating, recycling system. There’s no lack of anecdotal evidence. With installations in Iraq, Australia, the Carpathian mountains, etc. he leaves no poop to question. Imagine, no need for expensive waste treatment, no need for complex sewer systems, toilets connected to wastewater garden systems…..these would be ideal on reserves, remote locations, new subdivisions, there are endless possibilities. The best part? They work. They work at a fraction of the cost of conventional sewage treatment, they work in all kinds of climate conditions, they work with minimal care, and they work for years.

    I’m extremely impressed with The Wastewater Gardener. This isn’t a book for one or two target groups, this is a book everyone should read. I love Mark Nelson’s writing style, it’s easy to read, sometimes amusing, and very insightful. It’s literally a book about shit that doesn’t stink.

    Original Link to Review on The Garden Coach

  5. (verified owner):

    Mark Nelson does not want you to flush your poo. Why, he’d ask you, are you using perfectly good drinking water to carry perfectly good fertilizer out to pollute (formerly) perfectly good waterways?

    Seriously, not only does even my low-flow toilet waste a gallon or two of water with every poop, but septic systems like mine are also apparently notorious groundwater polluters, claims Nelson, and this all while I’m buying fertilizer from the store and spending several mornings a week outside using, again, perfectly good drinking water to water my plants.

    In The Wastewater Gardener (given to me by the publicist), Mark Nelson, a former inhabitant of Biosphere 2, makes the case that our feces taboo is holding us back from economic and environmental improvements, as well as inhibiting our ability to aid those in need around the world. You can’t just rescue valuable poop from the sewage treatment plant and hand it out as fertilizer, because by then it’s been polluted by medicines, metals, and whatever else people think it’s okay to flush down their drains. It’s wastewater gardening at the individual and small community level, then, that can unlock these improvements, allowing us to conserve water, grow more crops even in undesirable locations, and avoid the contamination of natural resources.

    For those who want to try wastewater gardening at home, Nelson offers specific instructions for projects like composting with humanure, which is apparently especially excellent for growing trees. The more enterprising among us can research constructed wetlands as a source of water treatment and hydroponic gardening, or join the international Wastewater Gardens movement.

    If you’re not yet ready for any of those suggestions, however, Nelson still has a starting point for you: simply conserve water. Use low-water appliances, and consider matching the quality of water that you do use to its purpose. Clean, fresh, pure water is for drinking, cooking, and bathing, but water captured from your shower, or the latest rainfall, is excellent for watering plants.

    And just keep that idea of the composting toilet in the back of your mind for when you *are* ready to try it.

    Original Link to Review on Insteading

  6. (verified owner):

    from Midwest Book Review

    Synopsis: In “The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time”, Mark Nelson takes the reader on a kind of global expedition to learn how we are wasting the world’s dwindling supply of fresh water by flushing away a very valuable resource — our own human wastes! Mark Nelson is founding director of the Institute of Ecotechnics and has worked for several decades in closed ecological systems research. As one of eight brave souls enclosed in the pioneering Biosphere 2 experiment, Nelson realized how essential the proper use of human waste is to the health of the planet. This, combined with his lifelong love affair with constructed wetlands, led to the discovery of Wastewater Gardens, an important solution to some of our trickiest global environmental dilemmas. While the problems and case studies covered in this book are indeed quite serious, Mark’s approach to the subject makes for a fun, down-to-earth and very informative read.

    Critique: Wastewater is any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influence. Municipal wastewater is usually conveyed in a combined sewer or sanitary sewer, and treated at a wastewater treatment plant. Treated wastewater is discharged into receiving water via an effluent sewer. Wastewaters generated in areas without access to centralized sewer systems rely on on-site wastewater systems. These typically comprise a septic tank, drain field, and optionally an on-site treatment unit. The utilization of wastewater for agricultural purposes is growing in importance as the scarcity of potable water grows — especially in third world countries. Informed and informative, “The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time” is enhanced throughly with illustrations as well as a five page ‘Recommended Further Reading’ list; internet links, a roster of Wastewater Gardens international Representative, and a comprehensive Index. Very highly recommended for personal, NGO, academic, and community library Environmental Studies collections.

    August 14, 2014

  7. (verified owner):

    “It’s a fun read but also a pioneering, practical manual that should be available in every public library.”

    Hugh Elliot, Senior Reference Librarian, Santa Fe Public Library, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

  8. (verified owner):

    The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One
    Flush at a Time
    Mark Nelson Synergetic (2014)
    It takes 1,000 tonnes of water to move 1 tonne of human faeces,
    notes engineer Mark Nelson. His alternative to costly, unsustainable
    sanitation is constructed wetland — subsurface-flow gravel beds
    in which plant roots and microbial action purify wastewater for a
    full range of uses. Nelson, a veteran of the 1990s US survivability
    experiment Biosphere 2, has built “wastewater gardens” from
    Algeria to Australia, Mexico and beyond.
    -Barbara Kiser, Nature

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