When we moved into our current home, each bathroom was its own color: sky blue, bright red, and teal. That included the sink, tub, and toilet. With five people in the house, using the toilet only three times a day, multiplied by an average of four gallons per flush, we used 21,900 gallons of water a year, not including showers, laundry, or dishes.
Over the years we’ve remodeled the bathrooms, replacing the toilets with more efficient ones that use a lot less water. Still, we’re wasting thousands of gallons a year of perhaps the most precious natural resource we have.
This time we’re going with a composting toilet. It is what the name implies: waste, through various chemical processes and a little time, becomes soil.
The low end of composting toilets requires only a bucket and peat moss. A mid-range toilet requires frequent emptying, possibly before the waste has finished composting.
High grade composting toilets are expensive—relatively speaking. The one we are currently looking at http://www.envirolet.com/320.html is around $3,200 (on sale through tomorrow).
That is considerably more than we had wanted to spend (three times the amount of the materials for the shell of our cabin), but it’s still cheaper than a septic tank. And rather than empty the waste ourselves, a solar-powered battery will suck it out of the house and into a composter. The great thing is, it only has to be emptied once a year, after it’s through composting.
6 thoughts on “Composting Toilet: Not Flushing Your Money Away”
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We’re replacing the old toilets in the bathrooms with low-flow, but we don’t plan to use them much. There will be two five gallon buckets, with toilet seats and lids in each bathroom, with a bag of dry debris beside them to layer in between uses. We’re putting two 55 gallon closed barrels in the backyard under an open shed, set down on wheels on their sides, to tumble and add air to the mix of yard/garden debris and human solids. That will make it break down even faster. I already use all of our urine, in diluted or fermented form, on the garden beds. It feeds the soil and helps the organic debris I use for mulch break down. I once lived for 2 1/2 years on open land and composted all my waste in heaps in the field, to put back on the garden. I’ve never seen such fertility, as then. And, as long as you cover the manure heap with some form of debris, like leaves or straw, there is no smell. Human solid waste is the hottest manure I’ve ever worked with. It breaks down faster than any other manure I’ve ever composted. Within three weeks it is completely broken down into humus, ready to put back on the soil. I don’t know why humans think there poop lasts forever. Everyone’s been flushing for so long, it’s out of memory what used to be done with ‘night soil’. In Europe and Asia, farmers bought human waste from city dwellers and took it out to the country to be composted, and put back on the soil. Every morning there was a steady stream of carts moving this valuable organic waste back out to the land, completely the Circle everyday. It’s a convienence to not have to empty your toilet but once a year, but you’re not getting as quick a use of the residue. But ‘good on you’ for making the switch. Whoever invented the flush toilet has single handedly robbed us of generations of fertility, and brought about this steady decline of soil, nutrition, and health, that we are now in. All the very best, B. J. Hollywood.
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Thank you for this informative post! I still have a lot to learn about this process and very much appreciate hearing from people who have been doing this longer and to a greater extent!
No worries. I really admire someone so new to the idea and process, jumping out there and doing the right thing – the traditional thing that has preserved farm land in China for 4000 years. All the best with it, and don’t be afraid. Human poop breaks down just like any other animal waste. It’s not special, but it is ‘hot’, which is good. You’ll see. Cheers, B. J.
We used a solar composting toilet for a few years and found the amount of electricity it required drained our battery bank in the winter too much and had to shut it off, which it became more like a bucket than a composting toilet. We switched to a septic tank recently and have enjoyed not using electricity to run our toilet. The electricity can be used for other house hold appliances such as refrigeration, laundry, and our computers. The composting toilet was fine in the summer time, we had the excess power, and it worked great for our needs. When we built our place, we created separate drain lines for all the greywater and plumbed the future (singular) flush toilet to be the only drain to the future septic tank, glad we did.
Thank you for sharing this! I really like the idea of plumbing separate drain lines. I grew up with a septic tank, and we almost went that route. If I had it all to do over again, I’d go with the composting toilet I had to change myself once a month rather than one that used solar.
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