To pee or not to pee (Guardian)

Staff at Wimpole Hall using their new "pee bale"
 Staff at Wimpole Hall using their new ‘pee bale’ to aid composting. Photograph: National Trust

Have you heard of a “pee bale”? It’s the latest measure adopted at the National Trust property Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire to both save water and ensure efficient composting.

As the name suggests, a 3m-long series of straw bales has been installed alongside the compost heaps in the walled gardens so workers (well the male ones anyway) can relieve themselves. Urine has been long-established as a free compost “activator” (aka “liquid gold”), because it’s full of nitrogen, but there are other benefits too. Tamzin Phillips, the NT’s “compost doctor” is quoted in the press release as saying: “What’s so great about the pee bale is that it’s using a natural solution to help the garden while saving flushing the loo for only when it’s really necessary.”

Apparently the pee bale is only used outside visitor hours “because we don’t want to scare the public” and logistically, women are counted out of participating, but it’s still a good idea that saves several litres of water for each toilet flush avoided. Presumably the pee-soaked straw will be added in layers to the Hall’s existing compost heaps.

If you’re female, don’t find an al fresco urination an attractive option, or don’t have space for a straw bale in the garden, a plastic drinks bottle filled in the comfort of the bathroom and decanted onto the heap will serve just as well.

What do you do to kickstart your compost heap? Would you use a “pee bale” at work? Share your thoughts below.

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