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Composting toilets, awesome idea. However when you say composting toilet to me I am thinking of the time we have spent off trail hiking. When hiking off trail for a few days or so (Backpacking), our toilet is a hole no more than 6 inches deep. Why? 1/ It hides the unsightly toilet paper. 2/ 99% of the bugs, worms and bacteria that feed on "poopie" live in the first 6 inches or so and will de-stink the "doo-doo" .
To add some credibility to this opinion. When hiking the appalachian trail. We have seen compost toilets along the trail in Georgia. I guess the green movement has influenced the forest service. The old pit toilets stink for years (see point 2). The compost toilets put up along the appalachian trail did not stink.
Personally I can not see a compost toilet working well in an RV. Although I am not against the idea, I just can't see it.
I am fifty years old, Semi-retired. I have had all I can take of a house full of "stuff". We are selling the house with five acres and going full time. Not necessarily in that order.
I have a Sunmar Mobile composting toilet in my RV. I have mine in a 24"x41" bathroom and the large size of the toilet barely leaves enough room to stand in the bathroom. Ideal would be a 24x63" bathroom, which is quite large for an RV (my shower is in another room). You go through a large bag of peat moss every month, and the toilet seems pretty cheaply made. I have only had my toilet a for two months so I will give an update on how it works. Weight wise it is much lighter to have a composting toilet since you don't have the weight of a holding tank and the compost is much lighter than black water is.
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Perhaps I'm doing something wrong, but when I clicked on your link, I get to a site where I can't read any messages unless I am a member of the "group" on Yahoo. If that is the case, perhaps you might need to provide a link directly to the forum thread that you were referring to.
The original poster may not be a Yahoo group member, plus anyone else interested in the compost toilet may not be able to see the information either.
Terry and Jo2010 Mobile Suites 38TKSB32008 Ford F450 2014 Ford Expedition 4X4 as Tag-along or Scout Two minor works in progess....pictures taken over the years and a webblog:Our photos on PhotobucketIgnoring the Barking Dogs - Terry's Blog
Carol Kerr Welch
Wife to Jeff, "Mom" to Chuy; Retama Village Resident, RV enthusiast
Realtor specializing in RV and 55+ Communities in the Rio Grande Valley
I have been studiously avoiding this one, but I just can't now. My sewage goes from the honey wagon to a certified sewage treatment plant, not into the drinking water anywhere. The statement, "Fully-composted or not, we empty the vault of its treasures and dump the contents into a garbage bag". Now it is put into garbage bags to do what? Let the garbagemen of some city handle it? Or worse, let it go to a recycling plant where the bag will be opened and whatever is recyclable will be removed. Thank you, I will let the honeywagon haul it away for disposal and not be handled by anyone.If I were a garbageman and I opened a bag of poop, I would be after the people that thought so little of me as to do this. At least fully compost before discarding.
Fully-composted or not, we empty the vault of its treasures and dump the contents into a garbage bag. We don't throw toilet paper into the vault, only because it filled too quickly and made us change peat more often. It smells only very slightly poopish, and mostly earthy at that point.
So, if one is "off the grid" for a while, what does one do with the filled bags until you get to an "appropriate" place? I just don't think I care for the idea of carrying around bags of poo for any length of time. I'm sure that there are a lot of folks who don't mind the idea of using a compost toilet. Hey, more power to you.
Sorry. While I can be without hookups, I will choose camping sites where there are some facilities for disposing of wastes. While I've been in a lot of places where one was definitely "off the grid," I'm getting too old to mess with that. Besides, all that time handling bags of poo is better spent seeing and photographing nature.
Now, where do you suppose the bears, deer, elk and cattle go? I've worked around cattle, and believe me, they produce some poo....
Honestly, Bill, were you seriously considering a composting toilet until you read about putting poop into the garbage? I suspect you were "out" before the conversation began. Am I wrong?
I'm still scratching my head over the rookie tucking into a bag of poop at the recycling center. Is this truly how your local recycling works? People throw recyclable materials into the garbage and challenge municipal employees to find it? Are you sure this isn't a story your mom told you so you'd go to college? Yes, I'm being flip, but this whole concept baffles me, being a long-time fan of the recyclling center and having to learn a whole list of do's and don'ts about recycling:
Plastics 1-7, except for wide-mouth #5, steel cans, glass bottles (not light bulbs or cooking utensils), poop ...
Being confused still, I'm wondering if the rookies have to sift through cat litter and dog manure, too? My cats will eat aluminum foil if given the chance, and that's recyclable. And, what about the diapers? There's no telling what kind of recyclables might be hiding in there.
My feeling is that we've all been maneuvered into a mindset where non-human manure is holy and natural, while humanure is vile and abhorrent. Cats, dogs and wildlife harbor intestinal parasites and other pathogens. Cattle are the main reservoir for EHEC and anthrax. Beavers disseminate Giardia. Birds carry Salmonella, encepalitis viruses, histoplasmosis, EHEC, flu viruses, and mycoplasmas. It's a germy world out there.
If you don't want to compost your manure, don't compost your manure. This was simply a discussion of the possiblilites available for doing so, and it's my impression that some people are interested, while many are not. That's probably why there are so few people here commenting and reading, while the threads called "I pay people to make my poop vanish!" are well-populated.
RVing probably not a reality any more.It was a good time while it lasted.
I have no idea why, but for some reason reading this thread amuses me. Poop is natural, and ever since pooping creatures have appeared on the Earth the planet has been recycling this material into organic matter that has replenished the soil, providing food for us all.
The rich farmlands of the midwest exist because of millions of bison pooping their way across the plains.
I can remember when I was a kid our family driving from Detroit to my grandmother's cottage on Lake Erie in Ontario, passing through many farmlands on the way. The farmers plowed manure into their fields as a natural fertilizer. It did stink in an earthy way, but when harvest season came around that was some of the best fresh corn I ever had.
Maybe it's only an issue now because in Star Trek parlance there are too many 'carbon units' on the planet now...
My last post was definitely off-topic and I'm sorry.
I do have some questions though:
1. Why would you consider a composting toilet in an RV when there are other sanitary waste disposal options available?
I don't know how long the composting process takes, but you would have to haul all that along with you until it's done. Weight is an issue with RVs. Where do you put it until that's done? Hauling around extra weight increases fuel consumption, which in itself is not good for the environment.
2. Assuming the composting process has completed, where would you dispose of it? What good would it do in a landfill somewhere, and aren't landfills themselves a blight on the environment?
3. Why would a composting toilet be preferable to a sanitary dump station?
I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I would think that a composting toilet would be more efficacious if you were fixed in place where you could use the results to fertilize a garden to grow food.
Hi Tim and Robyn,
I'm not positive you're asking me specifically, but I'll be glad to address your questions as best I can.
1) There definitely are other options available, but I am far from convinced that they are superior (or even equal, but I'm not trying to impugn other people's motives). The other options are conventional, and that's not always a compelling quality.
2) "Completely composted" is hard for me to define. Some people compost their manure to the point of using it on their vegetable gardens, and that process may be 2-3 years. Composting in general begins within a week, and if you put your hand on the outside of the vault, you'll feel considerable heat being generated almost immediately, which is a sign of microbial action.
To give you some perspective, two weeks' worth of continuously-composting manure from two people weighs about 15 pounds. How much would that much manure weigh mixed with water? Urine is a consideration in the holding tank scenario, and so a conventional black tank's contents would likely weigh 15 pounds inside a day. Most conventional RVers wouldn't travel to a dump site every day (and pay $5-10) to rid themselves of that weight, so overall, composting in an RV weighs much less than the conventional option.
[Let me say here that we look at this from an extreme boondocking perspective. We don't camp in campgrounds generally. We are also fans of an off-grid stationary life, although we aren't there yet. This may help to explain why we find this a superior process.]
But, if we can reach some agreement on what "fully composted" is, and we can draw that arbitrary line, I would put it on/in the ground. There is no longer any reason to separate it in any way. This is great for a homesteader, or anyone who is living stationary, as you said. Because I am not going to carry our manure around for a couple of months, I settle for the less-perfect option of separating it to continue its composting in a landfill. I agree that landfills are a blight, but we all like to think that our household waste in general is going to biodegrade (rot) and go back to the Earth. Not necessarily true ... except maybe for my lone bag of already-composting manure.
My poop is not doing any good in a landfill. It will be a resource when we stop traveling, assuming we are in a place where we can "resource" it. Now, my concern is "where will my poop cause the least impact?" In a conventional (house) scenario, I might use the toilet six times a day (more if beer is involved). Pooping and peeing into and flushing away about 10 gallons of drinking water. After that, it is no longer really a resource (although farmers buy the heavy-metal-contaminated sludge as fertilizer for open fields). For two of us, that's about 280 gallons of fresh water in a two week period. As a couple, we have effectively created 1.1 tons of waste that must be dealt with, as opposed to 15 pounds of composting manure.
3) When you gotta dump, you gotta dump. A conventional RVer will have to travel to a dump station, and a boondocker will have to travel further. This is not something that can be delayed for long. When they get there, they'll have to pay a fee, understandably. This fee feels small and totally worth it when the tank is dangerously full! A composting toilet says "Relax! Empty me tomorrow, or the next day, or on Thursday if you get a chance."
3a) In our Nature's Head, the urine is separated from the manure mechanically, and we dump the urine onto the ground. Under duress, we will dump it into a flush toilet. This amounts to about 1.5 gallons every two days, with two people using it. See above for beer disclaimer.
My re-disclaimer: I'm not trying to knock conventional poop flushers. Since you were interested enough, and so kind as to ask polite questions, I've tried to give you a sense of why we compost. I'll admit to being strongly influenced by Joseph Jenkins' book Humanure (which you can download chapter by chapter here for free: http://humanurehandbook.com/contents.html)
Yes, definitely. For example, the coconut fiber costs us about $2.67/brick when we buy it in a bundle. That's a 2-week brick for us. Peat moss is vanishingly cheap, maybe even an order of magnitude cheaper per use, but non-sustainable, bulky and fairly inconvenient, in our experience. Coconut is very compact and stores like a dream.
I'm very interested in this $20, free-water BLM land you're talking about. Would you be willing to share details? Dumping wouldn't be an issue, but staying someplace beautiful with good, free water makes my ears stand up pointy.
Like I hope I've expressed, money isn't the whole ball of wax here, although it factors in. There's also a capital outlay up-front, unless a person uses something like a Loveable Loo, and the volume may be greater in that set-up. That was our first choice, until we really thought through what we wanted and needed.
Thanks, Gene. No, it certainly won't be for everyone. But, three years ago we were absolutely certain it wasn't for us, either. I just like the idea that it might get caught in someone's brain, somewhere along the line.
For anyone who is interested, there is a nice, non-technical explanation of composting on a larger scale here:http://www.clivusmultrum.com/science-technology.php
After rereading this entire thread and doing a little more research on my own, my thinking has come around to the point where I believe a composting toilet might be a pretty good idea.
No more blueboys to have to deal with; no more messes at dump stations that the last guy left behind for you to have to deal with (or at your own RV if there is a leak somewhere); no more waiting in line at a dump station... you get the idea.
WOOHOO! That's great!
Thanks, Bill. I'll bookmark this for later reference.
Interesting that this topic revived after three years!
I encourage anyone considering a composting toilet to watch the video on gonewiththewynns.com It answers all the usual questions plus some you may not have thought of. We are definitely considering it.
Bill and Jodee Gravel Full-timers (June, 2015)
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