Think poo and change your view
I have a sticker in my composting toilet that reads “What I poo, changes the world”, and in fact it does change the world. Every time I leave my scat in the composting chamber, millions of micro and macro-organisms get a feed. Fungal hyphae extend their ghost like tendrils through the chamber and convert the lignin in the bulking agent into more food for micro-organisms. By the time the compost reaches the vestibule where it can be removed, it has literally been eaten and excreted so many times that it no longer resembles anything like the scat I originally deposited. The resultant rich dark humus is the natural fate of the food I ate to create the scat in the first place. The compost toilet is just a continuation of what began with the saliva in my mouth, as my brain registered the food I ate, regulated and produced the necessary enzymes to break it down, and then passed it over to the first set of bacteria to have a chew, my own gut micro-biome. As our own system is anaerobic, that is it produces methane in the absence of oxygen, the next stage of de-composition in the toilet must be aerobic, to prepare the resultant compost for introduction into the food chain, healthy aerobic soil. And so the cycle begins again.
Flushing our by-products down the loo by mixing it with potable water and sending it off to a septic tank is a luxury we may not be able to afford much longer. The methane produced by the septic contributes to climate change and the nutrients in our by-products gas off uselessly into the atmosphere or are distributed sub-soil so they pollute our groundwater. This is now the only part of my business that I can describe as waste management. It is such a waste.
Here are a few tips on managing your compost toilet to ensure it works beautifully and helps to change our world for the better.
• Use a bulking agent that will readily break down and not too much (a handful is fine). Pine shavings do not break down easily as pine oil acts as a disinfectant and micro-organisms cannot do their job.
• Make sure there is airflow through the compost chamber by clearing cobwebs and ensuring the fan is working (if installed).
• Check the liquid drain to make sure liquid is not building up in the chamber. Disconnect it and use a hose or a stick to clear it.
• Keep the toilet seat seals in good order and make sure you shut the lid after using the loo. The air flow will short circuit if left open and the compost pile will get too wet.
• If girls are using frequently for peeing, set up a bin for the loo paper rather than putting it in the chamber. It gets saturated and can cause an ammonia smell.
• Feel free to add food scraps or leaf litter to the pile. Even micro-organisms like a bit of variation in their diet.