You may have been a composting toilet user for years, or perhaps you’re just looking into one as an option in your new home. Either way I’m sure you’ve asked yourself more than a few times “what are the benefits of a composting toilet?” or even started looking up facts about composting toilets.
Here at Nature Loo we’re delighted to bring you these 6 amazing facts about composting toilets that you probably had no idea about.
# 1 - Using Humanure as compost has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years.
No doubt we’re all familiar with the concept of composting. Many Australians have a happy little compost bin in their backyard they use to add scraps, leftovers, grass clipping and other organic matter to. At the end of about 3 months of thermophilic microbe action, they end up with wonderfully useful and extremely rich humus.
Believe it or not the idea behind using humanure as a compost or fertiliser has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. In the middle ages excrement was referred to as night soil and it was big business. There are references of nightsoil as far back as the 1500’s where these ancient documents refer to ‘Gong Farmers’ who pretty much had the worst job imaginable in human history (we’ll let you find out about it all by clicking on the link:-) and even fights broke out in feudal Japan over this much treasured bodily left over.
So when you think about it we’ve been using manure as a fertiliser for as long as we’ve been farming and the idea of using human fertiliser makes sense (there are 6 billion of us) when it comes to helping out our planet a little.
#2 Composting toilets are low maintenance
If you’re thinking about installing a composting toilet and have visions of raking out muck and stomach churning maintenance efforts, forget about it. In reality composting toilets are incredibly low maintenance. Really the only thing you need to ensure happens is that some organic material is added regularly (most people tend to use sawdust… but there’s all sorts of options available) and depending on your model, a turn or crank of a handle.
Most composting toilets are pretty easy to handle and when you need to get the end product out they’re built in such a way that you pull out a tray of rich loamy humus ready for use on the garden (if you’ve ever had a worm farm and used worm castings you will know what we mean).We find that once people get over their ‘Poophobia’ (actually it’s technically called Coprophobia) they start thinking positively about composting toilets and the benefits not only to the household but to Mother Earth as well.
#3 Composting toilets use no water
For a company to sell a traditional toilet in Australia, the average water consumption must not exceed 5.5 litres per flush (source). Now think of your family and how many times your toilets get flushed each day.
Now think about every week. Now think about how much water is used every year to wash away waste that can be reused (when you start looking at it like this you kind of begin to realise that perhaps our society has gotten everything backwards!).
The simple act of installing a composting toilet can save you thousands and thousands of litres of water a year and remember, you don’t get anything in this life for free so you’re paying for all of that water.
#4 They’re environmentally friendly
Many countries around the world struggle with sanitation of large urban areas. With this problem comes a wide range of ways that countries deal with human waste. Most commonly it’s washed through plumbing to some sort of treatment facility. Other times it’s washed into the ocean or rivers.
If water and piping is not available sometimes pit latrines, septic tanks, dry toilets, chemical toilets or floating toilets. All these systems have their merits but all of them have a leftover waste product that’s not usable. The composting toilet is truly environmentally friendly as it takes this waste product and turns it into something usable.
#5 Composting toilets are found all around the world
It makes sense that in a developed country like Australia we will have a range of different types of people using composting toilets, for a range of different reasons but did you know that composting toilets can be found all around the world?
Click the images below to see what countries these composting toilets come from.
#6 The composting process destroys harmful pathogens
If you’re worried about the cleanliness and safety of a composting toilet, you don’t have to be. If maintained correctly the composting process will kill off any of the harmful pathogens that are found in human waste.
There’s two types of bacteria that is typically found in a humanure composting pile, these are mesophilic or thermophilic bacteria. I won’t go into the finer details of how these organisms work in the composting pile – if you’re interested go check out the blog post What actually happens when you poop in a composting toilet? over on our Clivus Multrum website.
So the next time you’re sitting on the throne, perhaps think about the different ways that people have gone to the loo in the past and be thankful we live in a country and a time that we can make informed and personal choices about how we go about our business.