Composting Toilets Demystified

It might seem crazy to consider changing the way you "go," but like everything else, new technology is always developing to make our lives easier and less wasteful.

By Michelle Haskins

 

The idea of toilets doing anything other than what we’re accustomed to may seem a bit strange. We’re all pretty comfortable with the idea that our waste is sent away with a couple gallons of water to be dealt with somewhere else.

 

The word “composting” is usually associated with food disposal and gardening, so the words “composting toilet” probably spark a lot of questions for the average bathroom user. But don’t let the idea of this toilet alternative frighten you, because they’re actually really cool. Read on to learn what composting toilets are and how they can benefit you and your home.

 

What Is It?

Composting toilets are a great alternative to the popular flush toilet because they dispose of waste while drastically reducing the amount of water used. This innovation mixes sawdust, coconut coir, or peat moss with the waste and ventilates air flow outside. This anaerobic system eliminates any odors quickly and leaves you with a fresh bathroom.

 

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Photo by dreamstime

 

The Setup

There are two different types of composting toilet systems: self-contained and centralized. The self-contained system works as a single unit and is perfect for small spaces like a trailer or tiny home, or for multi-story homes. Centralized systems use a large tank that’s installed outside or under your home. There are many types of centralized systems with different ways of flushing the waste down to the chamber. These systems function more like traditional toilets.

 

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Photo courtesy of SuSanA Secretariat

 

Composting toilets are ideal for home developments that don’t have septic system access, or for those looking for ways to avoid overburdening an existing plumbing system.

 

What are the Benefits?

The biggest benefit of composting toilets is the amount of money you’ll save on water with one. Regular toilets are responsible for up to 60 percent of a home’s water usage, and switching to a composting toilet can save over 6,700 gallons of water a year per person! With water shortages increasing worldwide, using drinkable water to flush away waste is quickly becoming unsustainable, and causing the popularity of composting toilets to really gain momentum. Furthermore, you can promote more healthy soil in your garden by recycling waste into compost.

 

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Photo courtesy of Way of Nature Corporation

 

Another huge benefit to composting toilets is the smell. Believe it or not, composting toilets usually smell better than regular toilets — both while you’re going and afterward. Rather than sitting in water, the waste is immediately absorbed by the coconut coir or peat moss, completely eliminating the odor. They’re also equipped with a fan that blows the air, along with any smells, directly outside while preventing moisture from building up inside the tank. If your nose detects anything at all, it will likely be the smell of dirt and will remind you of shopping at your favorite garden nursery.

 

A composting toilet is basically an organic matter recycler. You can even throw in food scraps or anything else you would put in a kitchen sink garbage disposal, if you’re so inclined, thus reducing your household waste overall. Composting systems are basic and don’t require any specialized training to use. They’re also a lot easier to manage than water plumbing systems, allowing you to avoid many traditional bathroom plumbing issues.

 

It might seem crazy to consider changing the way you go, but like everything else, new technology is always developing to make our lives easier and less wasteful. Who knows what type of toilet contraptions we will have in the future! Today, composting toilets are continuing to gain popularity, and might forever change the way we use the porcelain thrown.

 

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