Composting Toilets – The Bucket System

Emanuela

July 2021

Composting Toilets – The Bucket System

How to increase self-sufficiency - watching what most people consider an unpleasant waste product (human poo) becoming something of value, simply through the natural process of decomposition.

When we decided to create a glamping experience on our land, the first dilemma we had to face was how to accommodate a toilet and shower block.
Connecting facilities to water, sceptic tank or electricity would have been extremely expensive as well as being an unnecessary luxury, which wouldn’t have fitted the idea of a proper glamping experience.
I wasn’t too worried about the showers. The problem could have been easily solved with 2 camping shower bags. Yes, of course, the water would be cold, but many of our customers come to experience wild swimming, the outdoor and nature, so I was pretty sure the majority of people would have either not washed until they went back home or brave the cold settings.
The toilet was something different. I wanted to create a situation where I could make use (eventually) of human waste without compromising a little bit of comfort.
I read a lot about composting toilets. There are several methods one can use, but in our case, with limited space, the bucket system was the most logical.
The construction of the composting toilet was very straightforward. I built a sort of a shed where inside I constructed a box to work as a toilet, including a toilet seat!. I didn’t want urine to mix with the waste in the bucket because diverting liquids away from the solids means the poo compost dries out much quicker and does not smell. I therefore bought a urine diverter, piped to a soakaway in the ground. This means that everybody must sit to pee, which, surprisingly, we noticed, is well accepted among men, especially after a night of drinking around the firepit.
The process of using a composting toilet is relatively simple and consistent – do your business, and add a “bulking agent” such as peat moss or sawdust to provide air space for aerobic decomposition, and to control odours and insects.
We use a compostable waste bag for our bucket and when our bucket fills, we manually transfer the contents into a large plastic container with an opening at the bottom and leave it to compost in isolation.
We read that in climates such as ours (meaning relatively cold) it takes up to 2 years for human waste to decompose safely and be ready for use.
The result is topsoil-like material that is appropriate for use on fruit trees or shrubs, or even in the garden.
We started using the bucket system 3 years ago and noticed this year that the compost at the bottom of the pile looks amazingly good and ready. We haven’t used it this year, but we are very excited to start using it next Spring.
I think everybody could have a composting toilet in the garden. It’s easy to build, it recycles waste in a natural way and saves us having to go indoors when we are in the garden and climb 2 flights of stairs when nature calls!!