We have taken a huge leap of faith and pulled out our flush toilet, replacing it with a composting loo.

Living in rural Hawkes Bay we have been responsible for our water supply, the wellbeing of our septic tank and at times the unblocking of blocked pipes. Not only did we waste water through the toilet, we had to pay for the septic tank to be emptied and because we use creek water which is rich in lime, our toilet looked gross quite often and needed cleaning with a chisel, and because we tried not to flush unnecessarily it often smelt bad. We watched a video which pointed out that as a population we take 2 perfectly useful commodities: clean water and useful compost material, we mix them together and then create a problem with what to do with the mess.

The retired flush toilet awaiting recycling.

Where our loo is situated there is little space under the floor, so we couldn’t have a larger tank below. after much searching we found a suitable model that meets our needs. It’s a simple system with an outer case & seat. Inside is a bucket, which can be rotated to avoid pile ups! Actually we’ve discovered the simplest system is to save the toilet roll tubes and use those to redistubute any pile ups. We’ve connected the fan into the existing vent and the drain pipe for excess liquid is popped into the greywater system from the sinks, this goes into the septic tank.

 

Composting toilet in place

 Composting toilet in place

The system we have claims not to need emptying very often, but we find for four of us we empty it about every 2-3 weeks, which is not a big deal. We bought a large bale of pine woodshavings for $15 and reckon that will last us at least 6 months. We are using Greencane toilet paper, made from sugarcane and bamboo. I bought a pack of biodegradable nappy liners and we can use these in the bottom of the bucket to stop the drain holes from blocking up.  What we’ve also discovered is that to keep the drainage flowing it’s good to put a couple of plants stalks under the liners, I keep Lily stems and other semi soft stems to use, rather than sticks which will not break down.

Once the bucket is 3/4 full, which is about every 2 weeks for 3 people,  we take it outside with the lid on, (actually we put it into a big bucket in case it dripped) where it stays until bucket number 2 needs removing. We’ve set up two old drums away from the house where we shall empty the buckets and then leave for 12 months to quietly break down.

I keep and old toothbrush inside the outer drum and use this to clean the drainage base each time we empty it, and spray some nice smelling cleaner in there.

There are way more plusses than minuses for this new system, the lack of waste water, no maintenance other than emptying and rinsing out, no smells, and the toilet seat is warm! We shall have to wait and see how the compost turns out, I think it will get used to feed shrubs rather than vegetables, but we’ll see how we feel when we get to that point.

It’s generally recommended to leave the compost 6-12 months before using.

All set to go!

All set to go!

 

Drain for excess liquid

Drain for excess liquid

 

Fan into existing pipe

Fan into existing pipe

 

Our pine shavings

Our pine shavings

 

Wood shavings

Wood shavings