The miracle of composting toilets
Today I ordered my composting toilet. I know what you're thinking: What a RUSH. You're so right.
I've been hankering after one of these babies for years. I'd even developed that enigmatic facial expression a woman gets when ownership is inevitable; part vixen, part conqueror, part megalomaniac. You've seen that look on brides.
Composting: The Time Has Come
Lots of people are adding composting toilets to pool houses, remote cabins, workshops, garages, cottages and motor homes. A composting toilet is the ultimate solution when you want to put a bathroom in a spot that has any of the following issues:
- No power
- No sewer hook-up
- No septic system
- No plumbing
- No water supply
As it happens, my future bathroom site (in our small barn where I'm building an office) has all of those issues. How lucky can one girl get?
In the old days the answer would have been an outhouse but there's no way I'm using a kybo when it's minus 35 outside. And I'm not spending $20,000 on a septic system either.
Salvation lies in composting toilet technology, which has been around since the Seventies (actually since 1000 B.C. if you count ancient composting pit toilets in India), but is only now becoming mainstream. You can even buy a composting toilet at The Home Depot now (for around $1800).
Looking for a bit of a price break, I got mine in an eBay auction for $1049 U.S.(about $1250 Canadian) and saved the delivery charge (US$79) by offering to pick up the brand new (not used, in case you were wondering) unit from the Envirolet warehouse in Toronto.
I chose the Envirolet model over its competitors because it has a highly efficient aeration chamber, which means you don't have to add peat moss to the toilet every time you poo, although that's always a good conversation starter.
The Envirolet waterless, non-electric toilet also comes with a small wind turbine which affixes to the top of the vent pipe on the roof, and helps draw air constantly through the aeration chamber. This deftly prevents the unit from down-drafting and expelling odors like a relative who won't lay off the bean dip.
Volume Volume Volume
The Envirolet waterless non-electric model is rated for 2 people in a residential setting, but can handle occasional increases in load, like if you have a Canada Day party. The compost drawer needs emptying about once a year, and you can add the material directly to the garden. Or to your indoor plants. Talk about conversation starters.
Liquid waste isn't composted, but exits the unit through a small tube that runs outside and into a "French drain" (basically a gravel-filled hole in the ground). I'm not sure what the French had to do with the invention of this ingenious disposal technique, but I thank them.
If your toilet site has available 120V AC power (or even 12V DC current via solar panels or wind power) you can buy a similar self-contained Envirolet unit that actually heats the contents of the composting chamber, dramatically increasing its capacity.
Or you can buy a waterless whole-house composting toilet system in which all of the toilets look just like regular toilets, but they empty into a heavy gauge plastic composting chamber that's located outdoors or in the basement.
If you have a residential septic system that's beginning to fail, consider installing a low-water whole-house composting system, a great way to save yourself the expense of digging a new tile bed. Plus, a composting system is a lot kinder to the environment than traditional septic systems.
Oh, it's a wonder, the composting toilet.
More glorious details when we get this baby home and start installing it.
P.S. As of fall 2007, I still haven't finished the floor in the new bathroom, after deciding to make the room larger to fit the dang huge window I bought at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. My beloved Envirolet is still in the box. I renovate at the speed of geology.