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Compost Toilet info

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default Compost Toilet info

Post by John Cossham on 17th January 2010, 8:55 pm

Not sure this is the right place for this thread, but as it's compost-related, why not?

In the early noughties I read Lifting the Lid by CAT and after that I went around telling people I was going to build a compost toilet in my garden. And I got on with my life.

Then in 2004, I read The Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins, and I immediately got a commode, installed it in one of the outhouses, got a lidded brewing bucket and a bag of sawdust as cover material... and bingo, my compost toilet was installed. No need for a special building, nothing complicated.

I tip the full brewing bucket of humanure, urine and sawdust into an ordinary 'dalek' compost bin, which is a dedicated humanure composter. It takes 18 to 24 months to fill. I have 3 in a row. When one is full, I move to the next one. When the third one is full, the first one has rotted down to 50% of it's original volume, and I take it all out and use it with other compost and leafmould and loam to grow tomatoes and cucumbers in.

So satisfying, so easy, so sensible. No wasted water. No wasted electricity at the sewage treatment works. I keep all the nutrients. Carbon added back to the soil. Got me on telly with Newsnight's 'Ethical Man'. Led to nearly two years writing for 'Community Care' as their Ethical Columnist. Awesome!

I reccommend Joe's book (best bought to leaf through whilst sitting... but also on the web for free) as a good introduction. You cannot better this book, it IS the Bible of Compost Toilets.

I'm happy to answer any questions about compost toilets, as I have done extensive reading and research, plus 6 years 'practical experience!'
John
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Post by Compostwoman on 17th January 2010, 9:03 pm

hear hear John!

I am going to build a treebog one in my wood, ...hopefully this year! Maybe you could come down and join in?

At the moment I use a commode in a tent for any Forest school/woodcraft courses, and tip the contents down the septic tank ...the soak away feeds the trees and we only have the tank emptied every 8 years or so...ours seems to work exceptionally well...BUT I would rather make usable humanure compost from the waste ...

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Post by Compostwoman on 17th January 2010, 9:04 pm

But...I sometimes wish I could stuff JR down the compost toilet for some of the twaddle he says sometimes.... Rolling Eyes

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Post by Green Rosie on 17th January 2010, 9:18 pm

We have a compost toilet. We inherited it when we moved here and OH did it up. The only problem is it is the furthest point from the house, in the middle of a pig pen now . Several times we have had to rescue small boys when Boris the Pig has decided to sit against the door Very Happy

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 17th January 2010, 9:34 pm

I would highly recommend Graham Burnett's (Quercus on another forum) excellent DVD on how they built the compost toilet at Dial House. Although would offer a warning to the squeamish that for some unexplained reason Penny Rimbaud saunters in during the build and merrily hammers a few nails in his birthday suit (hammers nails into the composting toliet structure I mean - Its not that weird). If stark naked sexuagenarian anarchists do not trouble you then all is well.

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Post by Compostwoman on 17th January 2010, 9:36 pm

I have a spare dalek bin...so think I will start doing what you are doing...sounds like a very sensible idea!

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Post by MrsC on 18th January 2010, 9:26 am

Good useful post there John great

Not really got a big enough garden to merit a compost toilet or space for too many extra compost bins at the moment, but definitely one to file away for long term plans!

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Post by John Cossham on 18th January 2010, 10:12 am

I don't know how you can enjoy a sh!t when you're wasting all those resources.... I feel infinitely better leaving my commode loo than when just flushed it away...
And remember the little ditty, 'If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?'
So it's You, Here, Now! (well, not here, but where you are, if you get me)
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Post by Compostwoman on 18th January 2010, 10:17 am

But remember , not everybody has space or the place to use humanure, John...

Fine with a big ish garden, and space for several compost bins...and indeed maybe space for the commode....but not actually do-able for a lot of people in the urban situation.

Food for though, though...( well, not food immediately, but in the longer term!)

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Post by John Cossham on 18th January 2010, 2:24 pm

I find that people always overestimate the quantities of compost produced in any home composting operation. I have lost count of how many times I've heard non composters say 'where will I put all the compost' and novice composters say 'I can't believe how much the compost pile goes down.'

But agreed, after a keen composter has been 'at it' for a year or three, it is likely that they will have a few 10s of litres of finished compost, and if they have limited space to use it, there may be a dilemma about what to do with it.

Steadfastly ignoring the stupid 'Animal By-Product Regulations' which prohibits the movement of home compost from the premises where it was made, I come up with the following solutions:
take a carrier-bagful to the nearest park or open space and sprinkle it around the base of a tree or hedge, where it will be assimilated into the soil within a few days or weeks, or give it to a grateful friend who does have a garden or allotment. Of course, I cannot officially suggest this, but these thoughts do go through my mind as the relatively sensible person that I am.

The only legal solution, as far as I can work out, and I have seen it suggested once, is to put the finished compost in the bin for landfill. The logic of this is that if the fresh fruit and veg waste were put into landfill, it would be responsible for lots of methane emissions, causing climate change, but the composting process releases just some Carbon Dioxide (less climate change potential) and in a landfill, compost would be virtually inert. Although the logic works for me, I cannot support the landfilling of good rich compost. Officially though, I can offer no other options...

The other way around this conundrum is to give your organic wastes to a fellow composter. I have for many years had people give me their kitchen scraps for my hot heaps, and I have one friend who occasionally comes round, looking slightly uncomfortable, and saying, 'John, great to see you, so glad you are in, can I quickly pop down to your outhouse....' He, like me, hates to waste his humanure resources and much prefers to recycle than to 'flush and forget'.
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Post by MrsC on 18th January 2010, 3:22 pm

Love the idea of someone popping round to use your compost loo!

Our problem is that until we get the garden a bit more sorted (we only moved here in the summer) we just don;t have much space for compost bins themselves. Do hope to sort that out, but as nearly 5 months pregnant at the mo bit difficult to do much out there without hubbie's help!

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