Trev and I like to say we can deal with our own shit. But strictly not true as it's Trev's job to clean out the dunny. I maintain a discreet distance while pointing out what fruit trees I want it planted under. Caleb loves the new house, but is embarrassed when his friends come to stay and we have to introduce them to the loo. He doesn't like the toilet.
We have a Enviro-let. A self contained unit that heats and mixes our ordure in order to turn it into usable compost. Building codes meant we had to build a small hatch in the side of the wall to pass the tray of compost through so as not to walk it through the house. It's supposed to be every three months according to the manufacturers specs. But in reality it's more frequent that that. When you sit on the seat two plastic leaves slide to the side and you do your biz. When you get off, they close. We also use a small fitted lid that sits above the leaves to reduce any possibility of smell. It's not normally smelly.
We don't like this toilet much either. It is our single biggest power user in the entire house. We used it in our old shed because we were able to buy it secondhand (hey, we can deal with other people's shit too) and it was only going to be temporary till we found a better option. We haven't yet, and the council only has a few options it has given the tick of approval to.
We had a Nature-loo in QLD, it was great. It was a porcelain bowl with a wooden seat, it looked quite normal till you lifted the seat and where the porcelain ended a black chute began. No s-bend. Basically it was a glorified long drop with an exhaust fan, it extracted the wiff through a roof top vent and was typically odourless. That was unless the power went out and then we wrapped a especially bought gladwrap roll around it till the power resumed. At the bottom of the house we had two large black Dalek shaped and sized plastic containers where the poo was stored. The wee is drained off, in this case into an otherwise un-used and pre-existing septic tank. The trouble was that whenever you wanted to exchange the Dalek's they were enormously heavy. It was our only grizzle. We needed a trolley system to reduce the weight.
Amazingly when our poo is composted, our annual 'yield' weighs in at an average of 25kg. The thing that really bothers me is that the average Australian uses 16,000 litres of potable water to flush away that 25kg of waste per year. Then we spend a lot of money and resources trying to treat it. It never becomes an asset. It is treated anaerobically not aerobically, which means it forms toxins instead. It's like the big doh! of civilisation.
Here's an excerpt from Living the Good Life on using it in the garden.
The gardener’s reward
The raw material is broken down by micro-organisms, and thermophilic action (heat), which kills pathogens and viruses, and the length of time itself renders most possible vectors for disease harmless. As the composting system is aerobic, microbes, which require an oxygenated environment, are able to break down the compost into a useful plant food. The humus is covered in pores, which shelter nutrients, water and air more than soil can, and it releases nutrients gradually as it breaks down.
When emptying a composting toilet the ‘humanure’ is required, by law, to be buried. To be on the safe side, it should not be used on vegetable beds, but buried under a tree and covered in mulch.
In many less squeamish cultures, humanure is a useful source of topsoil on food crops. In the past Japanese farmers would vie for travellers’ excrement by building comfortable roadside privies and, once it was composted, they would use the deposits to enrich their soil.
According to composting toilet manufacturers, installing composting toilets in households is a slow-growing trend. Stuart Elliot of Nature Loo wonders ‘why the government doesn’t recognise the benefits of composting toilets and provide incentives to people who install them’.
As John Foss of the Surfrider Foundation (Surf Coast) says, ‘Recycling human and industrial waste is the only way that Australia can manage sustainable population and agricultural and industrial growth into the future’.
Any way you look at it, it’s time we got our shit together.What about you? How do you feel about composting loo's and seeing your own poo's?