Call of the Bile
The wooden toilet seat looks warm, it is NOT! Disadvantages of outside loos extend to an extra dose of vitality first thing in the morning as the unavoidable ass kissing cold timber permeates the soul. Thankfully it is a short lived experience that is quickly followed by the enlightenment that comes with release and the soaking up of natures morning sounds that resonates with the afterglow. Knowing that my spoor will soon be at one with the earth and my DNA will flow freely through natures courses is a distant afterthought to the compost toilet aficionado. My loo was built as a direct result of my Mothers needs and my Grandmas advice. Mum wouldn’t visit me until I had a decent toilet (not the maggot infested pit loo I started with) and my Grandma was wise enough to repeat “waste not, want not” just enough times to drive it into my subconscious for life. Ironically, it is Mother Earth that now benefits from their diverse wisdoms. Consequently, my path to convert waste to resource has been a driving force in my career and approach to life. One area that remains a challenge is the recovery of nutrients from waste water. Over the years I have designed many septic and greywater systems that have the same objective, to remove Nitrogen and Phosphorus so they do not act as pollutants in the environment. This objective is largely achieved through the use of wetland cells and sand filters, however, the bio-chemical pathways that reduce the pollutants often mean that they are lost to the air or captured in soil that cannot be used for production of crops. It is time we started to explore ways to keep these important resources for future use, both from human by-products and animals. Phosphorus, in particular is a non renewable resource that is essential for food production and life in general. If we are to spare the earth ever more invasive mining operations to get to this resource, we will need to recycle it from urine. One simple pathway for this is to have urine separating toilets or separate toilets for pee. My experience with urine diverting pedestals and children with diarrhea suggests that this is NOT the way to go. I recommend either a bidet that is exclusively used for peeing in (this can be connected to its own storage tank for re-use) or simply a 20L bucket with a lid two thirds full with sawdust. The sawdust ensures that there is no smell until the level reaches the top and acts as a source of carbon for the Nitrogen to react with. I have one of these in my bedroom and cannot smell it at all. Urine is sterile so don’t be a germ a phobe and let it stew. When its full simply throw the lot under a fruit tree and it will break down into a nice layer of humus.