Composting toilets or fancy outhouses?

Composting toilets are not all created equally.  Some of them probably use more natural resources to be “green” than the most old fashioned of flush toilets.  They also run a large range of price ranges, from the “Lovable Loo” at under $200 on into infinity.  There’s even a version that is made of some magically processed horse manure (??) to form the toilet itself.

I want to go green and low impact, but no thank you…I don’t want our “throne” to be horse hockey.

I’m not understanding why these things are so high tech, bulky and expensive.  What is the point of going green if you have to spend a three month income to purchase a single toilet for a couple?

Here’s the real deal.  An effective unit needs to fit in basically the same space as a traditional toilet.  It needs to be odorless.  It cannot require a lot of electricity and needs to have a solar option.  It has to fit in an RV or travel trailer effectively, without undue weight consideration.

It can’t cost over $1200 either, and a lower cost would be far better.

Most of all, it has to be utterly odorless in a small space.  It also has to deliver a “final product” that is not a bio-hazard on its own…and can be used as-is for fertilizing non-food plants.  It cannot require further composting.

Thinking about the Lovable Loo, I suspect the most lovable feature is the price.  Outside of that, it appears to be nothing more than a fancy box covering a bucket toilet.  Okay, that may work in some situations, utilizing a common composting area for multiple loads of “human manure.”  It won’t work in a travel trailer, thank you very much.  It is not portable when I need real estate to park the composting process on it.

Researching the topic “composting toilet” via search engines doesn’t prove productive very quickly.  Unfortunately, it results in a lot of the same sort of information without much variation.  Essentially, the goal of a composting toilet is to reduce human waste to a satisfactory level of odorless compost suitable for use on non-food plants.  (Using human manure on food plants is a good way to introduce pathogens to our food supply and NOT a good idea for common agricultural practices, whether you have a garden or a farm.)

Once upon a time, an outhouse was essentially a form of “composting toilet.”  The compost usually just never went anywhere but into the pit beneath the little house with the moon cut over the door.  Deodorizing frequently was done by the addition of lime into the pit.  The continual breaking down of the waste products occurred via the liquid soaking into the surrounding soil and natural bacterial action.  The lack of odor was an impossible dream about the time mid summer arrived.  The outhouse could get rank, and flies had parties there.

Obviously, I would be very unhappy to go to the expense of installing a composting toilet in a travel trailer only to discover that I had in fact introduced an old fashioned out house in a fancy modern package into the confined space of our home.  In addition, sporting a portable out house would ensure that our travel trailer could be renamed the “El Stinko”, and no one would want us for a neighbor…ever.  On the bright side, at least no one would be complaining about Sissy’s barking…we wouldn’t be allowed to stay long enough for that to even be noticed!

Some composting toilets utilize fans and heating elements to accelerate the process.  Some require the owners to regularly rotate a drum or otherwise stir the waste product to ensure evenly composted waste.  Some have massive tanks for the process to be conducted in.  Others require another installation of the composting location to be used in order for the process to be completed.

In a travel trailer, like in a marine application, you have special considerations that cannot be ignored, like weight and space, plus a truly self contained unit.  It has to be portable.  Because of the confined space, it also has to be truly odorless.  In addition, the vent system cannot be venting foul odors that can be detected by potential neighbors, even in situations like RV parks where your neighbor can often touch your trailer from their front door.

Can anybody deliver such a miraculous system?  I’m  not sure.  I am researching it still.  I like most of the features of the “Nature’s Head,” but it still has a requirement for emptying a small container of liquids.  I’m not thrilled with the idea of taking a container and looking for a public restroom to pour it into the toilet there.  I also think that requiring that is somewhat like a vegetarian who eats meat on Sundays.  What’s the point?  My mother had found a system that was priced identical to the $850 of the Nature’s Head, but sounded like a good system…and then forgot the brand or the website.  Hopefully, she’ll remember it or manage to retrace her search steps.

Many systems are priced in excess of my $1200 mark, and many are far beyond that mark.  Some are incredibly complex systems that will never be compact enough for application in a travel trailer or RV, and probably not in a micro-house either.  And so…the search continues.  It kind of reminds me of a Western serial for some reason…


About giascott

Writer, blogger, cook, grandmother, mother, wife, radio personality, outdoor enthusiast, dog enthusiast, crafter, artist, and part-time nut~~I've earned a lot of t-shirts in my day! I'm one of those crazy independent women who can cut down a tree, build you a shed, sew you a dress, cook your dinner, make some soap, pitch a tent, build a fire, catch some fish, dig in the garden, chase a kid or two, write you a poem, paint you a picture, and a dozen other things...just don't ask me to sing! I'm also embarking on a relatively new portion of my life, one of being disabled. I'm learning some lessons along the way about a lot of things too.
This entry was posted in budget, customizing, environment, interesting ideas, location, self sufficiency, sewer, sustainable living and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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