How to save water and the world
To be honest I can’t forget, I’m forever reminded by the rising level of sawdust and ultimately Gosias final reminder it needs emptying; however you would be correct if you were thinking that it is a number of weeks since the composting toilet has made an appearance. Not that we have had any ‘trouble’ in that department (we both eat fresh fruit everyday) or we have being tempted away by our neighbors high-tech ablutions, it’s simply that we have spent around 12 days away over the last 20. So a quick calculation shows once again the toilet has put in consistent performance and provided a good weeks worth of storage.
Now I know from my blog statistics page that you like the pictures I post as they receive more clicks than anything else on this blog, so with this in mind I thought I better start to explain things using more pictures rather than rambling on and leaving you none the wiser:) Don’t worry I have painstakingly edited all the photos and removed any turds!
This years compost pile, with last years ‘tyre construction’ pile on the right, left to mature after closing last winter.
Inside the outside toilet
Open the hatch to remove the bucket
Create an indent in the pile
Hunamure and scraps from the kitchen
Tip your compost into the indent
Fill the indent back in from the edges and add new cover material (straw, leaves, grass cuttings, etc).
As I stoked up the fire this morning to get the stable above 10 degrees and opted for bottled water in the kettle instead of heading outside to the well, I remembered that I should have emptied the toilet yesterday. As you know I’m normally quite enthusiastic about the task, happy to share the event with you all, telling you how it can change the world, save the planet and bring world peace. But this morning, with temperatures outside hovering around 0 and a light snow backed by 15-20 km winds I’m longing for an indoor flushing toilet!
Of course by my second cup of tea the inevitable moment is getting closer, although I have considered waiting until later this afternoon when we visit friends with modern facilities, I can’t stop thinking of the old saying’ why do today what you can put off until tomorrow’; but I’ve already done that once!
Not to worry, hat on, head down and lets get on with it; less that five minutes later and the task is completed along with the emptying of the two household composting buckets. It’s worth mentioning that this is an essential part of the whole process. You must compost your humanure along with your other compost items; veg trimmings and the like, its all needed to make the process work. You can add pretty much anything to the pile that has an organic origin; just make sure you make a recess in the pile, add your ‘whatever’ and cover it back up again. The heat haze above the pile was noticeable this morning, so I know that things are happening as they should; I even stopped and warmed my hands a little 🙂
Its toilet emptying time again which is much sooner than I expected, we must have had more visitors than usual! So after lasting about two weeks last time we are down to a week; seven days solid of solids. Even still I think the five minutes once a week; not bad.
However let the record show that I will be putting off the task until next week as we are heading off to civilization for a break from all this living in a stable lark. I will edit with the date of emptying to keep the diary accurate.
Emptied on Wenesday; 16th, fresh apple sawdust and ready to recieve.
Well I’m surprised; its more than two weeks since I last emptied the toilet. Given that we have spent a couple of days away over the weekends then its safe to say that the toilet tipping is a fortnightly event. So for the doubters that think that it must take up lots of time then five minutes every two weeks is the official answer on how much maintenance is required. I bet some people spend more time than that cleaning a normal domestic toilet every day!
Less than 5 minutes and the toilet is emptied into the compost pile. I’m guessing that it’s a week since my last disposal, let this be the start of my records.
It was only 5 degrees this morning and the steam from the pile as I pulled back the cover material was impressive; I must get a compost thermometer to see how hot the pile is running……I know its exciting stuff 🙂
Composting toilets, the single simplest thing you can do to reduce the impact you have on the planets resources; plus you get fantastic compost for your garden.
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I did think it would be worth tracking the progress of our composting toilet though, if only for my own record. At the moment we are running one toilet which is used by two people everyday and visitors as and when they feel the need; I know they use it as I have found myself explaining the mechanics of it to interested people, normally because they can’t believe that there is no smell even though we are collecting on mass the previous days food!
We are currently on our second composting pile if only because the first one I made, out of old car tyres, was a little small; however it is full and is now in a state of rest and turning turds into top soil. Our second pile was built in May 2012 and has provided storage for the summers offerings and is still less than three quarters full and that includes all non human processed waste items such as veg trimmings, weeds from the garden, uneaten food (not very often), paper, cardboard and even dead mice. With space to spare and the on-going composting process then I’m more than sure that this pile will last for the rest of the year.
The real beauty of the system is its simplicity, the only added requirement over a standard toilet is a ready supply of a cover material (we use sawdust) and about 5 minutes of time once a week to empty the poo onto the pile.
Remember every time you use a composting toilet you are not only saving the water you don’t flush, about 10 litres on average; you are also saving the additional resources used to clean that water before it can be sent off to sea or sent back into the system for us to use again.