I asked Roger Boddaert to have his men build a simple composting toilet out of the scraps of wood left over from my sheds. This is what he came up with! It is a gorgeous little building painted to match the sheds. Wood features stand out decoratively, and two cloud-shaped windows covered with trellis adorn the sides. Good for ventilation and for watching birds on the pond!
Inside is a raised seat that conceals a bucket underneath. The least expensive toilet seat I could find is attached to smoothed wood. Above the seat Roger attached a shelf with flower pots. I stashed the organic cleaner bottle and extra toilet paper behind some cut status flowers.
Underneath is a Home Depot bucket, with the lid close at hand. I had to make it stand taller by shoving boards underneath so that there weren’t any room for mistakes.
The way a composting toilet works, is that you do your business, including the toilet paper, and then add a scoop of organic material to the bucket equal to what you had put in there. That’s it. The organic material can be sawdust, wood shavings for pet bedding, compost, etc. As long as it is easily scoopable.
When the bucket is full, you put the lid on and store it for a year. Or you can dig a deep hole, dump the bucket in, cover it up and mark it, and in a year plant on it or use it otherwise. I don’t have the exact science for this, but within a year all those microbes will consume the humanure and neutralize all the stuff that is in there that could be harmful, such as medicines. Very simple, very clean, very useful.
Composting toilets – the ones that look like real toilets – are tremendously expensive and not that efficient. What a waste of money! The bucket system is amazingly efficient. I have visited several, one a private one and the others at Audubon preserves. There are no flies, no smells. My outhouse was used a lot during the Garden Tour last Saturday, and I peeked in there today to check. Smells great! No flies.
The outhouses at the Audubon centers have the same system, but on a larger scale for more visitors. Instead of a bucket there is a wheeled compost bin underneath. One in rainy Oregon was a solar composting toilet, where part of the bin was under the toilet seat, and the rest under clear corrugated plastic roofing that amplified the ambient light and helped ‘cook’ the compost. The waste in the bin was stirred around frequently with the compost so that it could cook better. Still no smell, no mess.
Simple solutions are there for everything, and through studying permaculture and seeing what works for other people is very enlightening. The answer rarely has to be expensive. And, as is my new outhouse, it can be fun, too.