Would You Use a Composting Toilet?

| 3/27/2009 10:01:36 AM

Tags: composting toilets,

A what-kind-of toilet, you might ask? A composting toilet is an indoor toilet facility that processes human waste into a usable soil amendment. No odor is produced during the processing or in the final product. Composting toilets require no water and so are especially useful where water is unavailable or in limited supply.

So, the question is, do you have a composting toilet? If you do, what do you think of it? If not, would you consider installing one at your house? Post your answer in the comments section below.


craig clausen
11/25/2012 5:08:49 PM

We have had a Sun-Mar toilet for 10 years. For the most part it is the biggest disappointment of our cabin. I clean it a couple of times a year in hopes that will keep the smell and the flies down. The only thing that keeps the flies down is Raid. Sun-Mar's response, not their product issue. The exhaust from the unit vent pipe stinks up the neighborhood, even with Sun-Mars fix of a charcol bag. We have a room exhaust fan that runs 365 days a year and the bathroom still stinks.

robin macquarrie
12/22/2011 3:40:09 PM

I am a huge advocate of compost toilets. Think of all the water that wouldn't be wasted, the streams that wouldn't be polluted. I don't own one now but plan to in the near future. They are still not permitted in my county (Sonoma) but I am hopeful that will change eventually. robin

sun-mar corp.
3/11/2011 11:27:24 AM

Maintaining and following the operating instructions for your Sun-Mar regarding maintenance and regular removal of compost, you will find that our toilets offer odor free operation. If you have any questions regarding the operation of your Sun-Mar composting toilet, please call us toll-free at 1-888-341-0782 ext 218. We would be happy to assist you. Your Sun-Mar service team.

carl lindstrom
10/16/2010 2:08:28 PM

Larry -- you usually don't need a permit for toilets that don't discharge anything ...

carl lindstrom
10/16/2010 2:02:10 PM

The best Long-Term Composting toilets surpass WCs on every comparison: ALWAYS odor free, silent, warm and comfortable to sit on w. a heated sitring, no repulsive sights, very low maintenance -- you don't take solids out for 40 years, yet you get the best plant nutrients imaginable back in an odor-free, bacteria-free liquid form. Almost nothing can go wrong -- the only moving part is a fan that is guaranteed for 10+ years see www.compostEra.org

molly blenkhorn
1/3/2010 5:43:09 AM

I have a non-electric BIOROCK sewage treatment plant. I used to have a composting toilet, but became sick of the smell and the emptying. I can now have a proper flushing toilet and a sewage treatment system which cleans the water to an amazingly clean standard without using any electricity.

larry k_1
12/2/2009 4:09:45 PM

Anyone know about permits for composting toilets in Northern California?

john o
9/17/2009 11:20:34 AM

Hi don't waste you're money on a comercialcomposting toilet like we did. We have a small cabin and the composting toilet does not work it has to be in a extremley warm dry environment constantly with little urine and it still was a waste of time. We went to a humanure.com homemade portage toilet and we put cedar chips in it only the ladies can urinate in it if possible. We made it look like a built in cabinet with a space for a bucket of cedar chips. I got a 2" vent in it and adapted a 12v computer fan to help with the venting because the pipe is over 15 ft. cedar chips are free from home or commercial saw mills or you can buy them at feed stores they take the smell away it is amazing in our 10 by 20 cabin there is no smell! I added a computer fan in a rubber coupler to and reduced it down to 2" . We got a free composter for out side which you have to dump the bucket about every 5 days for 3 people. The composter eats the waste with worms and other forest insects and the bacteria we just keep adding to it and it never gets full.

steve spence_2
9/16/2009 4:51:08 PM

We have used the sawdust toilet for years. Last year we got a Nature's Head. We liked it so much, we sell them for $900 delivered. http://www.green-trust.org/products

steve spence_2
9/16/2009 4:23:49 PM

We have used the sawdust toilet for years. Last year we got a Nature's Head. We liked it so much, we sell them for $900 delivered. http://www.green-trust.org/products

9/7/2009 8:14:03 AM

Building codes where we live in NC require a septic system if city/county sewer lines are not available at the home site. We would have preferred two sawdust toilets a la Joseph Jenkins' Humanure Handbook, but this was not an option, according to the inspector. We were told we could use commercially-made composting toilets, so we have two Biolet Deluxe 20 models. Our floorplan allows a relatively short vent pipe for each. Though the systems have electric fans, we also chose to install 4" wind-activated turbines on the rooftop end of each pipe (purchased from Envirolet)to further promote venting. The toilets work great. The required and duly installed septic tank receives only water from our high-efficiency LG washer, and sink water from the bathrooms and kitchen. Thankfully we were not required to install a garbage disposal -- wouldn't have been used anyway, since food waste is composted. As state laws evolve toward a more common sense approach, we will install a greywater system a la Art Ludwig (www.OasisDesign.net).

ron and jennifer
8/5/2009 10:37:42 AM

When asked our County told us a firm "NO!". It was hilarious when we mentioned that the State Highway system used composting toilets so why couldn't we? After some persistence and a talk with the higher-ups at the State level we were given permission...Victory!

ron and jennifer
8/5/2009 10:34:24 AM

When asked our County told us a firm "NO!". It was hilarious when we mentioned that the State Highway system used composting toilets so why couldn't we? After some persistence and a talk with the higher-ups at the State level we were given permission...Victory!

7/30/2009 2:34:35 PM

We have Sun-Mar toilet. We have had problems with odor and have followed what Sun-Mar has suggested to fix it, but to no avail. Our toilets are in the middle of the house, so the toilets have to be vented a long way through the space above the ceilings of the rooms. We also have a tall pipe at the end of the vented pipe. We hoped the high pipe would help facilitate the odor's dispersal. The house is also on a hill and has many trees all around that end of the house. So we are at a loss what to do. Anyone have any thoughts?

6/10/2009 2:47:42 PM

I'm doing relatively major renovations on my home and I'd been contemplating putting a powder room in the upstairs and a large, spa-esque bath in the basement, but the costs are quite prohibitive. I'll be building compost toilets instead. I'll keep the regular toilets for guests to use and to pretend that I'm status quo (if need be). Plus, composting my own poo is one thing, I don't want to compost someone elses.

5/18/2009 4:53:55 PM

We had a health dept inspector with a reputation for damaging the equipment of those who wanted alternative systems. This individual became irate when we challenged one of his construction ideas by successfully consulting the inventor of wisconsin mounds who sided with us. Within days we had the first incident of 'criminal damaging' which the sheriff's office backed off from pursuing once the heat was on. (www.bergerac.tv story under "Law and Disorderly Government"). We felt it was urgent to move in to be on site while finishing the radiant floor and berm etc so we went with a Jenkins humanure solution plus a US-EPA constructed wetlands for the greywater -- all DIY -- and are working on finishing the house and its systems with no problems so far. Not even the dreaded bucket-brigade fears of some -- for a 65yo and winter. Our system can go a week without needing to be emptied and we're cognizant of the weather patterns to easily fit such a miniscule task into decent weather, more like taking out the garbage on a favorable day which it mostly is since we're aiming for a zero-waste household design. (www.windberm-designing.biz)

keith hallam_1
5/15/2009 6:57:24 PM

I was reading about sawdust toilets some time ago and some of the info was saying not to urinate with the faeces. I've read all through these comments and only faeces are mentioned.... what's it all about, Alfie?? If the two have to be kept separate.... Not to be too crude, how do you do that?? especially the ladies.

5/2/2009 12:47:08 AM

I forgot to add, because her site is about frogs, she mentions 'inorganic process'...compost toilets are 'organic'...so you can skip that part and just realize that the process is the same whichever way...human waste is 'organic' http://www.pollywogsworldoffrogs.com/Text-html/water101.html

5/2/2009 12:18:06 AM

For those who have asked, Composting toilets are a simple biological/bacterial process. Anyone whose ever had a fishtank and took it serious will understand the process. Two bacteria, called nitrosomona and nitrobacter, which are ammonia, nitrate, nitrite eating bacteria, take care of it. They eat waste, and are found in air, water and soil. If you really do want to learn more about how the process works, a friend of mine has written a simple page on how it works in water...the same as in your composting toilet: Here is link, it's a simple read, as she wants to also attract children to the idea, so not so scientific that a layman would not understand :) http://www.pollywogsworldoffrogs.com/Text-html/water101.html

p l
4/12/2009 3:18:57 AM

Ya, Dad just pumped out the septic, or got it pumped out rather. He is just flat out stubborn about composting toilets. The septic tank, it turns out, is made from cemented cinder blocks put together. The top of it is a particularily thin cement lid (don't run the riding lawn mower over it, now... might break it, he says). Then the drainfield is made of clay pipe going out into the yard. So we filled in the holes from the pumping and now we have to wait and do the drainfield. He flat out won't even consider the doggone composting toilet, says the county will come in and inspect the property at tax time and that they are requiring everyone to put in new septic systems anyway or sign up for city sewer. I said, "are they going to march on the property, dig up your yard, or go into your bathroom and see what you are using for a toilet?" and he says, "Yes, they are coming to inspect the septic system." I'm thinking it's because he was dumb and let it be known that he has septic problems, or because the county is railroading people into putting new systems in. On the flip side, that system IS old, and is dumping feces into the ground unchecked. I would still take a composting toilet, sawdust bucket version to be simple, over a septic tank OR city sewer (dumps into river, or recycles the pee into drinking water. EWWW!). But he won't have it. He says he doesn't want to have to dump out the bucket all the time, or clean out the tank every six months for one of those other kind, and again... the permits. He is just stubborn, now. I mentioned the 2 gallons of wasted drinking water every time you flush to go pee, (for 3 people) and he just said "So... I'm paying for the water...). My reply, "Well, DUH, then don't gripe about the doggone water bill!" His reply: "I need something to gripe about."

4/9/2009 7:30:40 PM

Hi: We have a centrex composting toilet at our cabin. It is a low flush unit that most people would not know is not a regular toilet. We have had it for two years now and have had no problems. The unit has a fan to force circulation but can be set up with a larger vent pipe to run non electric. I love it and would never go back

4/7/2009 3:32:27 PM

I am in Maine .. Camp (near Farmington) has composting toilet .. about 1200, its the drum type Codes will NOT allow the sawdust version so we had to spend the money for the certified composting toilet. I personally liked the sawdust 5 gallon bucket style more .. smaller footprint (this thing is huge) .. waste is easier to handle (flip the top, grab the handle and lug) in the sawdust version Comfort wise if you put the sawdust version in a box and put the seat on diagonal it works great .. As for the 'real' composter, I replaced the step with 2 shorter steps, the seat is too small and can't be replaced with a standard seat (more bucks if it breaks) Venting is nothing more than piping for in wall vacuum system - NOT PVC .. it does not handle ice on roofs sliding without breaking and then getting water inside .. if you put it up plan on using thick walled PVC In the winter if home is heated compost will break down - if camp is closed down it won't .. I think because of the cold temp when the toilet was used it started to crack at the top (fiberglass framing) .. guess this summer that will be a repair to do .. *sawdust version with wood box never had issues due to temp We have replaced the heater twice and it has burned out again - not going to replace it a third time The official certified composting toilet will NOT handle a group of people .. For the sawdust version - just make another one or rotate empty buckets - much easier It smells fine *we do have a fan on it Ree

4/6/2009 12:57:55 PM

Heck yes, I would use it. Why not put the waste to good use? I have actually used one before at someone's horse barn, and there was no odor, it wasn't gross at all.

dale _1
4/5/2009 11:35:07 PM


4/3/2009 2:42:59 PM

I would welcome a composting toilet indoors. I'm tired of using an outhouse.

dave grundy
4/3/2009 1:32:11 PM

I built a sawdust toilet a few years ago at a very low cost. It works very well. There is no odor, it requires no energy to run. I obtain sawdust from a local sawmill. I compost the product and use it around trees. It is very simple to build and use. I can't say enough good about it.

alex ross
4/3/2009 1:22:39 PM

Yes, I would definitely use one! We have plans to have a screen room built unattached to the house and another toilet would be great. I'm hesitant about using human feces for compost on eating crops since isn't all omnivore excrement unsafe due to the meat products that are eaten? Plus, most folks are on medications that even conventional sewer and septic systems don't remove. Still hope to get one, though, as we have numerous plants and flowers that would benefit.

jerri mccombs
4/3/2009 9:22:05 AM

I had one in a small cabin in Arkansas a few years back. I did have some problems with it but all in all after it got worked out it was great. When I bought the property there were no laws excluding it's use, but later all new homes HAD to have a septic system. I lived on Bulls Shoals Lake which is one of the cleanest lakes ever. But as more people were building and doing the septic thing, the lake water was testing higher and higher for waste contamenants. They were no longer allowing composting toilets. The lake will eventually become a cesspool of germs like any other lake. What a shame because it is a beautiful place and could really be the forefront of actively preserving the quality now, rather than having to clean up later. I would guess retrofitting could be difficult depending on space. I have since moved and am in the city. I am currently trying to reroute my water to collect from the roof, use that water for showers, then collect that water for the flush toilet. I have a septic system, so will reduce what I put into it with this system. Hopefully it will all be in place by the end of the summer. But I agree that composters are the way to go. I simply do not have the room in this house to take advantage of them. I did use the waste out there from the composter to fertilize non edible trees I was planting and I think it is what made them flourish. It was great, and really did not smell when done properly. I would do it again in a heart beat if the room was available. This country really does need to have an adjustment in our way of thinking about the stewardship of the land.

star berry farm
4/2/2009 10:58:13 PM

Our farm has composting privies, the five gallon bucket variety. We use triple ground pine bark mulch, I like it better than sawdust, it absorbs more liquid and there is no odor-none. The Humane Handbook also inspired me.

dawn pfahl
4/2/2009 9:21:40 PM

While I don't currently use one, I love alternative toilets for their low-no water usage and easy use. I used to have a friend with a microflush composting toilet - right next to his greenroom on the back of his house. Grey water was recycled and the compost, I assume, fed his amazing tropical flowers. I never had a problem or detected any odors while using it, and ever since, I have wanted one of my own. When we get a house, a composting toilet will be going on my list of upgrades!

rose l
4/2/2009 6:04:14 PM

I LOVE the idea of composting tiolets and would use them in a heartbeat. My question is this: Since almost every conventional (and even not-so-conventional) house has an existing tiolet, does it have to be removed to accomidate the composting tiolet? We currently have 3 bathrooms, and only in one could we fit another toilet...and wouldn't that just look ridiculous!?! It would be fun to recycle the old toilets in the front yard- planted with sweet potato vine! I'd love to hear how other people have retrofitted their homes to use the more earth friendly tiolets.

barb mundorff
4/2/2009 6:01:59 PM

I think the old style toilets should be phased out and composting toilets required everywhere, including, eventually, the replacement of all old toilets. I would love to know how much it would save to eliminate the need for toilet plumbing in all new structures. How much would it save to eliminate sanitary sewers from all new construction? How much water would be saved? How much would communities save if feces and urine did not need to be cleaned out of our water? How much cleaner could the water we drink and use be if we didn't have to clean these things out of it, and re-use it? How much could we reduce the use of chemicals to clean the water? How much could water and soil pollution be reduced? I think the savings would be massive, and I think the world would be much cleaner, and people would be healthier. Water is going to be a huge issue very soon. I do NOT understand why so few people know about these toilets, and why governments aren't allowing them when they should be demanding them.

royce vines
4/2/2009 4:57:20 AM

SH 1 Tango, yeah!

4/2/2009 4:49:28 AM

I have used a urine separating system for a year now, which consists of two buckets with luggable loo lids. I can't imagine going to the expense of installing a septic system after using these. I also live with no running water, just rainwater collection and I have more water than I can use. I hate the thought of using fresh clean drinking water to flush a toilet. Talk about waste! You can read more at persimmonglen.com

4/2/2009 3:23:57 AM

I would definitely use a composting toilet. My fiancee and I have been discussing options, and we are interested in something like the "Rotalet," that has rotating chambers for storing waste and letting it break down. This seems like a clever design.

4/2/2009 12:19:18 AM

We were struggling with the prospect (and price, and red tape...) of installing a septic system for an old farm house that we are renovating. After reading "The Humanure Handbook," we also changed how we feel about human waste and finally found our solution! Gray water will be routed to our fruit tree stand and even before we have finished the house, the sawdust toilet has worked great. We haven't used the compost as it hasn't yet 'matured' and we've decided to go the extra safe route and wait longer. There is a little uneasiness about letting others know as we don't want to have the 'powers that be' come down on us and are generally unsure of the reception it would have. We may convert to an 'electric' model at some point, but are concerned about the impending 'global warming' legislation/regulation/taxation and what that will do to the cost of electricity in the future.

4/1/2009 11:24:10 PM

I would definitely use a composting toilet. I think it's a fantastic idea. I don't understand why we can't put all of our vegetable, meat, and manure waste right back into the ground. I remember learning in College about our industrial food supply, which is essentially a 1 way flow of nutrients out of the soil, which is then bolstered by chemical fertilizers. It's time to change all that, and start the nutrient flow right back into the ground where it belongs. On a personal level, I take a lot of medications for various things... diabetes, asthma, acid reflux, blood pressure, cholesterol, colitis... in fact I'm a walking medical condition. I wonder if all medications that I take would be harmful to the plants and the organisms in the soil, or if the plants would uptake some of those medications? I've heard it said that municipal waste systems are really loaded down with all sorts of prescripton and non-prescription drugs. What effect would this have?

jeanette redmond_1
4/1/2009 6:47:22 PM

The archipelago outside Stockholm is composed of 30,000 granite islands. This is where all the apartment dwellers from Stockholm spend their summers, and some live there full time. Needless to say septic fields are not accepted. My aunt put in a composting toilet in 1972 and it has been working well until this day. However, since emptying the compost is a little too heavy for 80 year olds, they have finally decided to put in an electrical toilet. Both work fabulously. I would say that getting a permit would be the hardest thing in the US.

4/1/2009 4:38:44 PM

We have a composting toilet. It in an Sun-Mar self contained electric unit with the drain tube for excess fluids. It works fine as long as you can follow all the guidelines to the letter. Drawbacks are: people visiting who are limited in their mobility (they can't handle the step-up), too many visitors staying more than one day, visitors who don't follow the directions we give them on how it operates and put things into it that don't belong in it, and young children who tend to be frightened of it. Too many people visiting for a few days really causes the worse problems. Any time that happens, we end up having to empty it, clean it, and start over from scratch. Otherwise, we like it just fine.

4/1/2009 4:00:08 PM

-I've seen them working functionally in many contexts, including one of the academic buildings on my college's campus WITHOUT smelling, and with very little maintenance involved. -they are a great solution to septic-overflow problems -I would definitely install one. Humans in industrialized societies are the only animals that deficate in their own drinking water, and of all the water in the world, only less than 5% of it is drinkable....don't composting toilets just make sense?

4/1/2009 3:09:10 PM

I have composting toilets at my eco-friendly home and guest house on a small 6 acre island. I love how they work, My guests love that I'm helping the environment as well.

cherie a. dodds_3
4/1/2009 2:37:28 PM

My husband and I are in the planning stage of our new home. We have researched into the composting commodes and are going to buy 2- 1 for our bathroom and 1 for a 1/2 bath downstairs. We think they are such a great inovation especially if you can't put in a septic tank. We live in Central Texas and our bedrock is quite shallow. Blasting is out of the financial picture so finding these were a Godsend.

roxana allen_2
4/1/2009 2:21:10 PM

I used a composting toilet for about 15 years while living in my cabin in the woods. It was a waterless, electric kind and so easy to use, my plants loved the compost. There was no smell or mess and it was very easy and economical to use.

4/1/2009 1:27:41 PM

DE, if my inlaws (or heck, even some of my relatives) told me they'd never come again if I had one, that alone would be reason enough to get it... I want one, can't talk my wife into it yet.

4/1/2009 1:27:13 PM

DE, if my inlaws (or heck, even some of my relatives) told me they'd never come again if I had one, that alone would be reason enough to get it... I want one, can't talk my wife into it yet.

kate hetzel second life art
4/1/2009 1:25:32 PM

I live off the grid in N Michigan May-Oct. I've been using a self made composting toilet for a couple seasons now. It's a chamber pot with a lid set inside an antique wood toilet box which has a lid also. I put sawdust in before using, then after each use and cover. I empty it about every 4 days into a compost pile outside. I wash it out, add more sawdust and it's good to go. I've never had problems with smell, flies, etc. either in the cabin or by the compost pile. Last spring I spread all my compost into an 8" x 10" area surrounded by logs with the intension of having a flower garden. I didn't get around to spreading the seeds, but low and behold up came 6 different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, melons and California poppies!! This May I'll put a layer of newspapers down first then add all the compost from last year along with some flower seeds and I'm sure it will be a beautiful flower garden. Also I keep a pretty scarf over the wooden box and no one who has ever visited even knew it was a toilet there.

4/1/2009 1:00:49 PM

This siste offers made great ideas and are explained in great length. So why are you just devoting a half dozen lines to this subject. I would need to know more about this. I hear that this is very expensive, I don't think that spending allot of money to save a little would not be cost effective. I compost now so I am doing my part in this area nad many more. Playing around with my personal waste is not my idea of fun. There would have to be some sort of chemicals involved to break it down or the animals would be coming running. I get that when I spread out my chicken wastes in my garden. I would need more input.

barbara gillihan
4/1/2009 12:54:50 PM

I have used a compost toilet and a sawdust toilet. I love the simplicity of the sawdust. When building our log cabin in the woods we ran into a problem of rock below the surface and were unable to put in a traditional septic system. We spent alot of time researching which direction to go. Our decision was to purchase an Incinolet. It is an incinerator toilet which plugs into any outlet (they also have non-electric ones). We have had it for 8 years and love it. I recommend it to anyone who can use this set up. It required a vent in the wall behind it but this is all. We empty the ash pan about twice a month, into the garden. There is basically no upkeep except to purchase the box of papers which we opted to fold ourselves. Not enough discussion is given to this possibility and we are 100% satisfied with it.

dena braves
4/1/2009 11:56:12 AM

"The Humanure Handbook" changed my life - I love our sawdust toilet. We are building a cabin in the country and my husband wants to put a more traditional composting toilet inside for visitors. Personally, I would be just as happy with the sawdust toilet. We built a very nice traditional outhouse for our sawdust toilet to go along with our outdoor shower and we love them both. We catch rainwater off our shed for the shower & when the cabin is complete we will also be harvesting rainwater off the roof for the cabin. No water under pressure is planned.

richard dean
4/1/2009 11:42:24 AM

i have read about composting toilet but the dam sticker shock got me, made me wounder if there cheaper ones out there , but the idea to me is sound one but i would need a large one since they base it on how many you have in home ,.. and for the guy who has to replace septic from tree growing in it there some type of blue crystales that are salt and some thing ealse they would kill the roots in septic system .... and me personly i would tell the dam city a word about me digging it up and changeing the crock out maybe you could just dig it up and cut the roots then salt the around it so the roots wouldnt go to it and im sure if its not that bad just do some motar work and its good as new but im just a dumb country boy

4/1/2009 11:37:57 AM

After reading "The Humanure Handbook" by Joseph Jenkins two years ago, my husband and I immediately quit using our flush toilets and started using humanure sawdust toilets. All the composted humanure goes on our vegetable garden (yes!) and we will never go back to the senseless act of flushing pure drinking water down into the ground again. There's no odor, no turning the compost, no electricity used, no water used, no pollution or environmental damage, our guests have no problem with it, we have a wonderfully productive garden, and we feel good about the whole thing!

4/1/2009 11:08:07 AM

I don't have one, but if the compost is safe to use in my urban garden, I would certainly consider it. Urban areas are already in danger of getting buried under their own waste materials, and composting would reduce the garbage. Are they difficult or expensive to install?

4/1/2009 10:51:49 AM

You bet I would. This is a more than sensible way to make something good out of waste!

4/1/2009 9:32:48 AM

We are installing one in our barnominium on the farm, and looking into wind energy and rainwater harvesting.

george works
4/1/2009 8:55:19 AM

I would use a composting toilet and am thinking of installing one in my barn. I appreciate all the comments. My wife and I live on a tiny Caribbean island and our water is strictly limited to the rainwater we catch on the roof and store in a cistern. One way we save water is by urinating in jars instead of the toilet. The urine, diluted, makes a great organic N-P-K fertilizer in the vegetable garden. Our European friends tell us that this practice is common there among gardeners.

3/31/2009 2:14:08 PM

I've read a little about them and would love to give one a try. Our septic took a crap a couple years ago-- $3500 to replace, PL, so at least call around 'cause while I believe rates vary and I'm definitely outside city limits I also think you might be getting skinned--and that was all it took to convince me. An indoor toilet that doesn't depend on water or on me digging a hole and dumping the chamber pot every night after the neighbors have gone to bed??? Sign me up!!!! Before I can even bring the idea up to DH I have to know everything about it. He's very skeptical of anything that's not conventional. I'm learning to work with it. Any good websites where I can learn about composting toilets, then delete my trail until I'm ready for the argument????

jill swenson
3/31/2009 7:57:52 AM

Oops...didn't finish comment...This is Jill again and we are curious about whether we need to worry about compostable toilets for seasonal use. We are considering installing them for our cottage guests but worry about the effects of sitting idle and in the freezing cold most of the year. On Warren Pond Farm is looking for a sustainable compostable toilet that can be used seasonally. Any suggestions?

jill swenson
3/31/2009 7:53:04 AM

I live with Sam Warren off-the-grid in upstate New York where we raise deer, elk and bison. Solar panels, windmills and a waterwheel produce energy. We offer cottage rentals during the summer season for those seeking a low carbon footprint vacation. On Warren Pond Farm was featured on March 11th by the New York Times in a 7 minute video called "Going Green and Off-the-Grid."

3/30/2009 12:47:10 PM

My husband and I would use it. We are doing our best to use less water,electricity and gas. It is fun to see if we can do better each month. We would love to use a composting toilet but live in town and are afraid someone would find out. However it is still something we are thinking about. We read the "Humanure Handbook" and it changed how we think about human waste.

3/30/2009 5:26:35 AM

My toilet is not exactly a composting one. The indoors unit has efficient ventilation, and it evaporates much of the moisture of the droppings. Once a month I take the catch out in the fields and leave it in the compost pile to mature for about a year. My city-born nieces and nephews have had no problems using the contraption; likewise various visitors.

p l
3/30/2009 2:51:12 AM

I would definitely use one. I am living with my Dad and his septic tank just bit the dust. The maple tree in the backyard put its roots right through the pipes of the drainfield and through the box that holds all the "stuff" until it goes into the drainfield. He just got an estimate for what it will take to replace the septic system and it's going to cost OVER $10 grand!!!!! $1000 of that is just the stupid PERMIT that you buy from the county, saying you plan to put in a septic. It's a racket, it's not right, and my Dad doesn't have the money and now he's holding his head in his hands, drinking a lot of beer, trying to figure out what the heck to do. He told me "I wonder if I just put in an outhouse, if I'd get caught...?" We live in a city lot, in a small, rural town. Most of the neighbors are nice and pretty much mind their own business. Now I'm sitting here, thinking... why can't we just abandon the septic all together, put in a composting toilet of some kind, and set up a seperate compost bin for the "humanure" stuff. I'm still squeamish about putting human feces, even if it is composted, on my eating crops, so it would go on flowers only. Anyways, I brought this idea up to my Dad, and as usual, it got shot down because "we live in town". My question to all of this, always is... "Why not????" I mean, is the county going to come on our property, march into our house, watch me take a crap and then monitor where I put that crap???? If it gets to that point, it's time to move somewhere else, because it truly is a sad day when the government tells me how to take a dump.

3/29/2009 9:58:54 PM

I have had two composting toilets and strongly prefer one over the other. The first one was in a cabin I rented, and it used the gravity method. After use, peat moss was added and the mixture was turned to put it through the first layer of screen. This was done out of sight, within the body of the toilet, so squeamish could do it too! As the mixture composted, it naturally broke down and fell through progressively smaller screens until it was so fine it fell into the removal drawer. When removed it was odorless and looked like dirt. Very positive experience and I would recommend this type of toilet to anyone. The toilet I have not is less effective. The waste goes into a drum which is turned by handle every few days. The new waster and the old waste are mixed together. I do not like this, it slows the process down, and I have yet to put out the drawer and find the dirtlike finished product I had with the other model. While there are testimonials online about my toilet I would not recommend it to anyone.

3/29/2009 6:27:36 PM

We use a compost toilet in our homesteading cabin we are building. We have no access to water and must haul water in for drinking. Using rain barrels for cleaning, washing, and cleaning the compost toilet. The system is great. Of course it is a little more work than just flushing a toilet. It's just great to live off the grid.

mimi jost
3/29/2009 5:57:15 PM

My husband and I read Joe Jenkins' book, The Humanure Handbook, years ago and became converts to the sawdust toilet idea. http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/humanure.html When we built our house 10 years ago, we were required to put in a septic system, but the only thing that now goes into it is grey water. We also have a regular toilet for company to use in our one and only bathroom. The "bucket" is in the basement, and we use it all the time. Very little smell, and one of the big benefits is it doesn't ever get plugged!! I recommend it highly.

glenn stelmach
3/29/2009 10:43:48 AM

my wife and I instaled a composting toilet in our cabin. What a great idea. We were struggling with the idea of spending 10,000.00 dollars for a septic system or an out house,(which my wife really didn't want) when we came across an add for composting toilets in Mother Earth News, did some researh and decided to take the leap. Was I ever glad we did. Our experience has been great, after a short learning period we have been problem free for a year now. I would highly recomend one to anybody.

healing green
3/29/2009 7:51:37 AM

Definitely, I think they are great. When we build our next home, we plan on putting them in.

dave egbert
3/27/2009 11:28:10 PM

Yes! I have a composting toilet and have used it for years. I have in my little rental cabin and it works really well. I bought it to help save me from installing a separate septic system for the cabin but now I realize that it really saves water more than anything else. I found that the toilet (even though it is a low flow type mandated by the county) was the biggest use of water on my property, so any time I can save from flushing a toilet, I am saving major amounts of water per day. If you keep it maintained, it works perfectly. No smells no mess. Mine even looks like a normal toilet except that there is no flush handle. A container of peat moss is kept at the side of the unit. After each use, a scoop of peat moss dropped down the unit masks smells and jump starts the compost process.

dominic ebacher
3/27/2009 2:22:05 PM

Yes, I would install one; and myself and my partner would probably use it. I've considered this problem for a long time: if is is easier and cheaper in the long run why aren't more people doing it. I think the answer is: building code still requires people to put in a septic tank or connect to sewer and pay for it. So if you've got a septic, you have to use it or you're just a chump. The building code needs to change to allow for homes that want composting toilets - to release them from having to have a septic system: if that happened I think a lot more would be installed, creating a viable and competetive industry: its just a smarter way to treat waste, period. But, my sister would never use one. She's already told me, and if I get one she'll stay at a hotel. Dom

leslie c.
3/27/2009 2:06:15 PM

I would use a composting toilet if I had one. I have one bathroom and there are times a second toilet would be useful. If the waste could be used as a gardening supplement, even better. I think it would be a unique way to get rid of waste instead of sending it all to the municipal plant.

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!