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Should we go back to outside toilets?

For most of us, the question of going back to the old outside toilet will provoke a definite NO WAY, Jose! Oh, the indignity of it, I hear you cry! But is that viewpoint changing? And should we reconsider? This article discusses this provocation further.

In the developed world, we are all so used to the convenience of flush and forget toilets. Underground mains sewage systems are, after all, a virtue and pinnacle of civilisation and progress, right? But do we take it as a right to use a flushing loo for granted? Is it an essential utility? And what would happen if we had to forsake this convenience?

Ecology, ecology ecology

Unless you have been living under a rock, we all know we have got to face up to the undeniable facts concerning our natural environment, and fragility of our planet. Living an eco-friendly life is now an essential part of everyday life - not merely a future 'thing' anymore. This includes recycling, energy usage, the use of plastics and sustainability etc. Naturally, this brings into question dealing with our own effluent waste and water usage as well.

For example, did you know that each time you use the toilet, you flush away 6-litres of potable water - that's around 50-litres (11-Gallons) per day. Therefore, for an average family of four, that works out to daily consumption of 200 litres (44-Gallons) - that's a staggering 73,000-litres (16,500-Gallons) per year per household, flushed down the loo. That's a lot of wastewater to be processed.

As a contrast, however, you may not be aware that Composting Toilets are entirely waterless and what's more, they do not smell at all either. They do however need a bit of time to get your head around how they work and how to use them etc. For starters, they are not as convenient as a flush and forget cistern, but besides saving lots of water, they do come with other benefits though. Interested? Then read on dear reader.

What is a Composting Toilet

Biolan Populett Composting Toilet - part of of the Glampsan product range

A composting toilet is a type of non-flushing 'dry and completely odourless toilet system' that treats human effluent by a natural biological (micro-organisms and oxygen) process that eventually destroys all pathogens.

In many composting toilet designs, carbon additives such as sawdust, peat moss or bark etc. are added after each use. This creates air pockets in the human waste promoting aerobic decomposition. This also improves the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and eliminates odour. Surprisingly, even after a short time, the waste looks nothing like poo. Even more surprising, as already mentioned, it doesn't even smell at all either. After some months, the compost is moved into a secondary composter unit for longer composting to facilitate pathogen die-off.

Composting toilets, together with the secondary composting step, produce a completely safe, humous-like end-product that can then be used to enrich garden soil for plants all over many parts of the UK.

A lot of composting toilets separate urine from the solids in the toilet bowl, collecting the urine separately and control excess moisture. This means that men and women both have to sit down to go to the loo, but the benefit is it gets rid of nasty toilet odours. Collected urine can be easily diluted and used directly as a garden fertiliser, and some can even be added to the secondary composting process to speed up the decomposition process.

Composting Toilet Components

A composting toilet consists of two main elements: a place to sit or squat and a collection/composting unit. Many composting toilets have no moving parts and consist of:

  • a storage or composting chamber
  • ventilation to ensure that the degradation process in the toilet is predominantly aerobic and to vent odorous gases
  • a urine diversion system to remove excess liquid
  • an access door for extracting the compost.

So, should we be using more waterless outside toilets?

Waterless Composting Toilet solutions

Back to the question posed at the start of this article - should we be using outside toilets? Could Composting Toilets replace the conventional Flushing Toilet? Well, for many applications, perhaps this could actually be Yes!

For example, in many Scandinavian rural areas have already been using Composting Toilets for a decade or more. So, it's proven to work.

In the UK, glamping is becoming more popular with holidaymakers each year. Glampers are rejecting family trips abroad (and the associated toll of a heavily loaded carbon footprint of air miles etc.) and seeking a back-to-basics off-grid experience. To this end, many glamping sites are installing Composting Toilets, and this is helping to get the message about.

Even significant outdoor events, such as Glastonbury, now use Composting Toilets - that's a strong environmental message and a considerable commitment too.

Soon, the design of new eco-friendly homes could perhaps comfortably accommodate a downstairs WC that facilitates the effortless removal of compost. Yes, that would mean moving away from the convenience of on-suite flushing toilets. At least it would mean a heated inside toilet, rather than a freezing cold outside one! It also means that we have to get used to turning our poo and pee into usable compost to flourish our gardens. But, perhaps we could get used to the idea that rather than the number of on-suite toilets a house contains, perhaps a Composting Toilet will become 'the' required feature for future discerning generations! Time will tell!

Granted, high density, urban areas, high-rise flats, apartment blocks, offices etc. will not be suitable. However, for rural area's, modern housing estates with back gardens, as well as public parklands etc. could all benefit from eco-friendly Composting Toilets. Perhaps dealing with waste will be as important as solar panels and even wind-powered generators.

We all need to take responsibility for creating a 'greener-world'.

Head over to our website to check out even more about Composting Toilets and our Composting Toilet partners.

Also click here to read more blogs on Composting Toilets.

Social Media

One of our passions is that we love using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in quirky, fun and useful ways to inform you. For example we have an awesome blog site aimed specifically as glamping businesses to help to inform you of waste sanitation solutions. So, head over to our blog website We do regular videos too to help get useful messages across to our customers, and we'd love you to tell us, in the comments, what you think too people.

Sincerely, JT

0800 999 6010‍ (Part of Plastic Solutions based in Aldridge)

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