Reduce, reuse, recycle is an oft-repeated mantra of eco-friendly living. Striving for sustainability could be as simple as reducing the amount of water you use or finding creative ways to keep waste from ending up in a landfill.
Why not apply this same concept to the bathroom?
With a composting toilet, you’ll be able to make your poo work for you in a way that’s safe, sustainable, and sanitary. The fertilizer you create is an eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemical versions, and it can nurture a lovely flower garden.
Composting toilets don’t require water or sewer hookups, and many can operate without electricity. Because they work well off the grid, they’re often found in tiny homes, RVs, and boats.
While you’re probably thinking of something that’s a cross between a hole in the ground and a port-a-potty, composting toilets are much more comfortable and sanitary.
What Is A Composting Toilet?
In short, a composting toilet recycles human waste and turns it into fertilizer with a little help from natural microbes. They don’t require water or sewer hookups, and many don’t use electricity.
It could be as simple as a DIY version made with a bucket and some sawdust, which might suffice for camping in the woods. If you’re looking for something to use on a more regular basis, you probably want something that’s a bit less rustic.
Most composting toilets look like the commodes you’re used to, and they employ a ventilation system so your bathroom won’t smell like a festival latrine.
Mixing the waste with an organic material like peat moss or coco coir starts the composting process quickly, so there’s no biohazard issue.
How Does A Composting Toilet Work?
Composting toilets are made up of a seat and a compost collector. The collector can be composed of separate bins for solids and liquids, or it can have an airflow system to remove moisture. Ventilation systems remove gases and extra moisture to keep odors under control.
Toilets can be self-contained or centralized. Self-contained toilets are portable and have all the elements in one place, while centralized systems drain into a separate compost collector.
Self-contained composting toilets are great for tiny homes, RVs, or any other type of off-the-grid living. Centralized systems are better for a house or cottage because they require a more permanent placement.
The compost collector itself ranges from two separate tanks that you control with levers on the side to fancier models containing a conveyor belt, which isolates your poop and transports it to a separate composting bin behind the toilet.
Instead of flushing, like you would with a standard toilet, you turn a crank when you’re finished using it. This crank is connected to an agitator, which mixes your waste with an organic material like peat moss or coco coir.
A fan or ventilation system adds oxygen into the mix, which helps the microbes recycle your waste into a rich fertilizer you simply dump outdoors.
If you’re the squeamish type, don’t worry. Because poop breaks down quickly, the final product looks (and smells) more like soil when it’s time to empty the tank. Natural processes destroy viruses and pathogens, making the final product perfectly safe and sanitary.
While the fertilizer you create is safe to use, it’s best to use it for non-edible plants, like trees and flowers.
Composting Toilet Reviews
Thinking about dumping your flush toilet for a composting version? Let’s take a closer look at some popular composting toilets.
This composting toilet was the first self-contained composting toilet to be certified by the National Sanitation Foundation.
- Available in electric and non-electric versions
- Will need to be emptied approximately every 3 months
- Bio-drum tank does not separate liquids and solids
- Works well in homes and cottages
- Price: $1,895
This self-contained composting toilet is lightweight and portable, making it ideal for mobile use.
- Contains separate containers for liquids and solids
- Uses electricity to power fan
- Designed for mobile use, like tiny homes, boats, or RVs
- Will last about 90 uses before it needs to be emptied
- Price: $925
Separett Villa 9200
This self-contained waterless toilet has a two-speed fan, giving you greater control over ventilation.
- Uses separate containers for liquids and solids
- Requires electricity
- Ideal for use in a tiny home, cottage, or residence
- Will last four to six weeks before needing to be emptied
- Price: $1,389
C-Head Composting Toilet
This composting toilet comes in five different finishes and has four different variations.
- Uses separate collectors for liquids and solids
- Does not require electricity
- Ideal for mobile and off-the-grid uses, like RVs and boats
- Price: $669 and up
Choosing the right composting toilet depends on your lifestyle. Are you looking for a smaller version for going off-the-grid in a tiny house? Or are you looking for a waterless toilet to replace what’s in your home?
Whichever model you choose, a composting toilet will help you significantly cut water use and reduce the need for costly water treatment plants, with the added benefit of nourishing plant life.
Have you used a waterless toilet? Let us know what you thought in the comments, and check out more tips for living a sustainable life.