Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Wonderful World of Poo!

And no, I'm not talking about Winnie the Pooh.

Before we ever moved here we had discussed getting a composting toilet. I had looked into the commercially available toilets and thought that was what we would end up getting. I liked the idea that the compost bin only needed to be emptied once or twice a year but I knew the cost would keep us from getting one for a while. Once we decided to move here, I knew that we had to come up with another solution that would be much more affordable since we wouldn't have running water for a while. That's when we started to seriously look at sawdust toilets.

For the last several months we have used a sawdust toilet but we had been placing a bag into the bucket and disposing of the bag. A few months ago I finally finished reading The Humanure Handbook and we were inspired to get to work on our humanure composting bin. Using some scavenged lumber, my husband has gotten one bin completed.

And yes, the posts on the left are taller on purpose. Eventually there will be three bins total. The next one to be built is the center bin which will have a roof over it. Hence the taller posts. This bin will store the hay and probably the sawdust as well. The hay is used to cover the humanure so there is no odor. The third bin won't be used for about a year. Deposits will be placed in the first bin for a year and then we will switch to the other bin. The first one will be left to age for a year and then we should have some rich compost that can be used in the garden.

 We also dug a hole in the bin and filled it with about 12-18 inches of hay. This forms a biosponge that will absorb liquid and help keep it from running off. We have only been using this for about a month but so far it is working very well. Our clothes line is pretty close to the bin and I have never smelled anything while back there.
The hole before we added the hay
Once there is a roof on the center bin, we will add some guttering that will lead to a rain barrel. This will collect rain water that can be used to clean the buckets every time they are emptied. Overall it is a pretty efficient system and not very hard to manage. We have decided that we will continue to use this system even after we finally get running water. Eventually, I want to build a nice box to encase the bucket so it looks a little prettier and not so obvious.

If you would like to see a well established system, check out this You Tube video. If you do a search I'm sure you will find more. I'm also providing the link to The Humanure Handbook website.

If you're thinking about a composting toilet don't discount a sawdust toilet. You may find it's your best choice after all!

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