Compost Toilets: Don’t Pass Up the Poop

Learn how to build and maintain a composting system that includes human excreta, and transform Nos. 1 and 2 into beneficial material.

Side view of IBC tote with closed lid and reinforcing wood rim.

You might think it odd that we’d start an article about compost toilets by stating that no such thing exists. But they don’t. Composting is a specific process, one that occurs under specific conditions — and those conditions don’t exist in any toilet. A compost toilet is essentially a progressive system that collects and handles human feces and urine so they can be safely composted.

The basic aspects of using a compost toilet are straightforward: 1. You go to the bathroom; 2. The deposit is collected in a vessel; and 3. That collection is then either minimally processed to a mature enough state that it can be buried, or, better yet, it’s further composted to a state that sanitizes and reduces pathogens to a safe level so it can be used as a beneficial nutrient resource.

Figure 1: Considerations for a double-bin compost-processing pile.

When we take composted or sanitized materials and reincorporate them into the environment with no negative impacts, we, in essence, don’t create waste — and compost toilets are a tool for collecting and processing materials so they don’t become waste.

In this excerpt from our new book, we will explore some of the factors that go into creating a successful composting system — from getting over that fear of feces to creating buffer zones around your piles — so your final product is a low-impact, yet high-quality, “load of crap.”

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