Published on February 22nd, 2012 | by Lynn Fang
Save Water with Composting Toilets
Have you heard about composting toilets? They’re a complete system that ensures there’s no nasty smells, and they save a huge amount of water and waste, while keeping our water supplies clean and abundant. The average American flushes down 18.5 gallons of water down the toilet a day, according to the American Water Works Association. With a composting toilet, you could save 6,752 gallons of water a year.
How Does It Work?
At its most basic, a composting toilet is a bucket with several inches of sawdust or other woody mulch material covering the bottom of the bucket. A source of sawdust should be sitting nearby to cover fresh material.
The basic premise of composting requires a balance of nitrogen and carbon (the C:N ratio). Human manure (affectionately called humanure) is high in nitrogen, and sawdust and wood are high in carbon, creating the appropriate balance for starting a hot compost.
After you’ve done your lovely business, cover it up with a few inches of sawdust. This will keep the smell from seeping out and will also prevent unwanted critters from coming to visit.
When the bucket is full, cap it and put it aside. You can start a compost pile in your backyard only for humanure, separate from your regular compost pile. Turn it every few weeks to ensure proper aeration, and treat it like regular compost. If your humanure compost pile is able to reach a temperature of 160 F, that is hot enough to have killed any toxic microbes. You could use it on your fruits and vegetables, but if you’re not comfortable with that, you can also just use it on your ornamental plants and lawns.
Ready-Made Composting Toilet Systems
Lovable Loo: The Lovable Loo is a wooden box system, so it doesn’t need venting, plumbing, electricity, or water. The bucket is inside the box and it is really simple to use. Their site has several videos to show you the system, and they have also published a book called The Humanure Handbook to give you all the information you ever wanted to know about humanure.
Envirolet: Envirolet makes several waterless composting toilet systems, and they also have a few that do use water to flush. Their all-in-one unit is made of hard plastic and can be either electric or not.
Biolet: Biolet has a line of waterless composting toilet systems that do require some ventilation and electricity. They have a basic, manual toilet as well as a fully automatic toilet that mixes the compost itself.
Make Your Own: The Humanure Handbook has posted a free online tutorial so you can build your own Lovable Loo!
What do you think? Would you do your business in a composting toilet? Would you get one for your home? Why or why not?
[CC Image from Sustainable sanitation via Flickr]