AUSTRALIA

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: AUSTRALIA
Author: Joe (Joe)
Friday, August 17, 2012 - 12:15 pm
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http://milkwood.net/2012/08/17/building-a-jenkins-style-lovable-loo/

Building a Jenkins-style Lovable Loo for the Tinyhouse

Author: Joe (Joe)
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 - 6:24 pm
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In Haiti we found lots of sugar cane bagasse (crushed canes that were used to extract the sugar water for rum making). These are discarded as a waste material and dumped in a big field. The consistency is like straw. We also found lots of sawdust at a factory that extracted amyris oil from ground shrubbery using steam extraction.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Saturday, May 28, 2011 - 6:08 pm
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Joe, could you please tell us more about the cover material you are using in Haiti. I was imagining it would be difficult to obtain sufficient sawdust for the job.

Obviously many tonnes of humanure are being produced.

Author: Rufus (Rufus)
Saturday, May 28, 2011 - 8:14 am
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Joe, the message you posted on may 3 is about New Zealand, not Australia. I was interested to read it.

Author: Knothead (Knothead)
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 - 7:08 pm
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My first thought is that biochar would be a perfect "filter" if one is worried about any leaching into the ground water. A substantial layer placed on the ground below the compost pile would surely prevent most if not all contaminates from escaping.

Author: Joe (Joe)
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 - 4:29 pm
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At 03:47 AM 5/3/2011, you wrote:

Hi Joe,

JAMES: Thanks for all your help in our effort to help Christchurch with compost toilets and sharing the links with us. Really enjoyed watching your videos and looking at the photos. Great work you have been doing in Haiti too. Thanks.

I am just wanting to touch base and have a little discussion re the moisture, temperatures and pissing into the closed system compost toilet. My apologies for the length of the email, but my only excuse is that we want to get the system functioning really well for Christchurch.

Our day to day system at home.
We compost our goodies in a closed system, i.e. a wheelie bin, which at first we found we had to reduce the moisture content.

JOE: I think it would be more accurate to say that you collect the material in a wheelie bin. It is unlikely to compost there.

JAMES: It became anaerobic especially at the bottom, due to the amount of urine being added to the system. We are talking 2-3 months that the deposits are contained in the wheelie bin, once it is 3/4 full it is set aside to compost.

JOE: The composting should take place elsewhere and the wheelie bin remain just a collection device. The urine content then is not important other than to say that them ore urine, the better for composting purposes.

JAMES: To overcome this I have installed a separator chamber that allows excess liquid to drain (effectively what would leachate if in an open system) from the poo material. The separator has a bio filter of sticks, newspaper, grass clippings what ever on top of the separator chamber, mainly to keep the solids contained in the upper chamber.

JOE: Theoretically this would work, and we have experimented with exactly the same process, but we have not been able to get thermophilic conditions in such a small, enclosed mass. Whereas if we just dump it into a bigger mass, it will heat up.

JAMES: I have a tap at the bottom of this chamber that I can drain off any liquid, which ends up being around 2 litres of liquid over the 2-3 months.

JOE: You bin contents should easily be able to absorb this small amount. My guess is that you're not using enough cover material. You should always have enough cover material to keep a clean layer over top of the toilet contents at all times. You can judge this by sight and smell.

We have found the ideal moisture level to be, at a guess, around 30-40%, judging on the moisture of our normal compost versus our compost toilet. We get this moisture from the poos and the odd person peeing into the wheelie bin now and then. Usually uncontrollable as you know.

JOE: I collect nothing but urine in some of my toilets and have done so for decades. The toilet receptacle has several inches of cover material in the bottom before the first use (this amount is adjustable depending on what type of receptacle you're using and it could be a half meter). Cover material is added whenever there is odor until the receptacle becomes filled. The urine level can be just below the cover material at that point.

JAMES: The sawdust is semi dry, but not kiln dried wood and we use around 1-2 cups per deposit.
We also don’t have the toilet in a sunny location, as we do not want the composting process to start cranking until the wheelie bin is 3/4 full and the wheelie bin is taken away for composting. This also results in less condensation on the underside of the toilet seat lid. However having the ventilation pipe in the sun has proven useful.

JOE: It's not going to compost in the wheelie bin so the ventilation pipe serves no purpose nor does the urine separation.


JAMES: Urine and urinating in the closed chamber.
My understanding is that urine on its own is 99.9% likely not to contain pathogens, so by keeping it seperate we can use it straight on the garden and keep it pathogen free opposed to putting it through or into the poo mixture.
Urine benefits the composting process, which is what matters. Therefore is should not be separated out if the goal is to recycle all toilet material via thermophilic processes.

I would argue that urine can smell, especially in large quantities and the first one of the day. Probably more as a result of one having not drunk enough the day before. Sure if you have enough dry carbon material it would soak up litres of urine per day. Good evaporation rates also help with lowering the urine/anaerobic smells. But it is essential that the urine is not sitting in the bottom of a closed chamber, but from my experience with the closed system we had the anarobic thing happening.

JOE: Urine does smell bad. It won't smell when it's cover with an adequate quantity of appropriate cover material. You do not want it to be evaporating. It should be all going into the compost system, not into the air.

JAMES: Also my understanding is that the nitrogen levels decrease rapidly after about the first 24 hours, so by leaving it in the closed system (and if not absorbed by sawdust) it sits in the bottom of the wheelie bin.

JOE: Nitrogen is lost through evaporation. Collecting all urine under cover material without ventilation prevents that loss.


JAMES: Temperature and pathogens
So what we don't yet know is if our wheelie bin system is reaching a temperature for long enough to kill pathogens while in the wheelie bins. We have not tested yet, but we have recently got hold of the equipment to do this. We know for sure it doesn't reach a hot compost level, but it does get quite warm for a long duration.

JOE: Put a compost thermometer in it.


JAMES: I do see the huge value in ensuring the temperatures reach the thermophillic region, but in a cubic metre compost system the central region reaches the sufficient temperature level, and the outer fringes do not. So if the compost is turned, some inner material gets put to the outside and visa versa, but definitely not all of it, so you get contamination. I suppose this is why you Joe always put the deposited material into the centre of the compost and the outer areas acts as the insulation, so to speak with the hay.
Would you think contamination with the outer regions sometimes occurs, resulting in the spreading of pathogens to the outer fringes?

JOE: Studies have shown that no-turn compost has the same effectiveness in pathogen elimination as frequently turned compost, with less cost and less nutrient loss.

JAMES: My thoughts are that we don't know for sure if any system is entirely killing the pathogens, but reaching thermophillic levels is the closet we can get to it.

JOE: That's the point - to establish thermophilic conditions.



JAMES: Other issues in Chch include
In many parts of Christchurch, the water table is really high, with liquefaction in a lot of areas. This means any contaminants from the compost/excrement could contaminate the water table.

JOE: Dump the wheelie bin contents into a larger container such as what we call a dumpster here. Put a thick layer of organic material in the bottom beforehand. Cover it on top with another thick layer after it's full. Nothing goes into the environment. There is no contamination. Stick a thermometer into it. Excrement can contaminate water. Compost is not excrement. This simple fact escapes most people and will continue to do so until they see and learn about compost first-hand. A compost pile is not a pile of shit.

JAMES: Potential of people not having a background in composting or loosing interest in their compost, resulting in badly managed composts and potential contamination/outbreak.
Someone can collect their toilet materials and compost them for them.

Straw/hay and other organic materials are not so abundant and available in a concrete jungle of the city, especially for a city wide supply to put together large composting piles. I would love to set up compost heaps to reach thermophilic levels, but these would have to be community wide schemes that would need to be managed and monitored. This process would mean council buy in, which hasn't happened to date.

JOE: A cubic meter system will heat up nicely and can be supplied by one family. Compost sanitation systems don't need to be planned for city wide use when individual families can't even use them yet. The goal is to start somewhere and build from there, even if it's one family or a group of families, or a camp ground or other place of gathering - music festival, refugee camp, emergency shelter. We have wanted to do this in the USA, but regulations here are burdensome, so we're working on it in Haiti.

JAMES: The wheelie bin closed system to some degree solves the 3 above issues. (but yes we still are not reaching thermophilic levels.
At this point it makes sense, if it is possible to construct compost piles with the material from the ¾ full wheelie bins. This will be in the hope of reaching the thermophilic temperatures and being more certain the pathogens are killed. The suggestion of the large skip bins could work well.

JOE: You can also dump the contents into pallet bins on soil. It's all a management issue: use enough cover material inside the wheelie bins to absorb the liquid, use a thick enough "biological sponge" as a base inside the compost bin.

JAMES: However the argument against this is that the result would be a city wide compost toilet system, with extensive transport of the compostable material, rather than individuals home solutions, near to the home, and where people deal with their own shit. The city wide solution doesn’t overcome the phobia of using shit to fertilise ones own garden. But I suppose it is a huge step in the right direction, if the process is managed and the material is utilized for agricultural purposes and not just dumped into the large waste treatment system, which would be a consideration for the bureaucrats as the infrastructure is established. Also it would be attractive as it means transporting solids rather than chemical liquids, which is currently taking place in the disaster struck areas.

JOE: There is probably a city-wide trash pick up system. Why not toilet material as well?

JAMES: Given the restricted land area in the city at peoples homes then having large big composts, 1 cubic meter and above is not very feasible, mainly due to the legislation and what I consider to be fear in the bureaucrats. Without a city wide transport system where they can manage the humanure, it will be a hard fight. So our currently solution is a medium term solution (I would love the idea of having corners of recreational parks turned into humanure piles. Imagine that, it would be awesome!!!!)
Question - How much leachate do you think is draining off your humanure compost piles, especially given they are exposed.

JOE: I have not seen any leachate draining from any of our compost piles. We did a pile for 500 people for 10 days in an arid region of California and there was nothing leaking from the pile. Urine was NOT separated, and we composted all food materials too. Again, it's a management issue requiring the correct use of clean organic material that will absorb any excess liquids. In my case, I have no doubt that the soil under the compost in the bins remains damp at all times, but I'm sure there is nothing percolating into the ground water.

Regarding "exposure" of the compost piles, they are enclosed on four sides and covered by straw, hay, or something similar on top and are therefore not exposed. When there are heavy rains, this cover should be increased to absorb the rain and prevent leachate. The cover also prevents drying out. If rains are too heavy, throw a tarp over the compost.


JAMES: In a nut shell

Essentially with the closed system we are adding the carbon material and letting it compost, not thermophilically obviously, for around 9 months. I suppose we could be suggesting 2 years for safe measures, but I have heard 3 months is sufficient. With 9 months (3 months composting and 6 months as a safe measure) we are unlikely to be creating any health problems. Round worm eggs I understand would be our highest risk.

JOE: Again, dump it out of the wheelie bins into a contained compost bin system of some sort to create a larger mass, let it compost in that larger mass, then reuse the wheelie bins. You can save on wheelie-bin odor and cleaning by using a compostable plastic liner in the wheelie bins.


JAMES: I will let you know what temperatures we reach in the wheelie bins. When I set aside a wheelie bin, I mix in more carbon material and beneficial microorganisims, so it does get quite hot and I am excited to find out exactly how hot.


So given our situation in Christchuch we see our solutions as being ok, but if you have any suggestions that could assist, that would be muchly appreciated.

Regards

James

JOE: I'm going to put your post on our message board and maybe others will comment on it as well.

Joe Jenkins

Author: Joe (Joe)
Friday, October 23, 2009 - 11:35 am
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Hamish - looks like you're a pioneer in this business. Can you email what the Victorian EPA requirements are? I'm working with regulatory groups here in the U.S. on exactly the same issues and your information would be helpful. joe at josephjenkins.com

Author: Hamish (Hamish)
Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 9:26 pm
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Hi guys,

It has been a whiule since I was on the board here. I want to post that I actually did do all the leg work and testing and spoent a lot to get the composting toiulet through the riugourous demands of the Victiorian EPA. They have re issued me with a permit that allows thg reuse of compiost for anytthing excepot vegetables that will be esaten raw with one month of application.
I am now having councils book me for their local festivals. As well as that a council booked me to go into local schools to talk to kids about composti8ng poo, sustainability, food, and worms. Gee the kids loved it. They also painted the doors of the mobile loos I have and displayed them at the local festival.. Ah.. art, science, worms and kids.. what a mix..

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Monday, April 13, 2009 - 11:23 am
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Yes, Jo, everything relevant there, and I agree too.
With regards to a small community taking up that idea of everyone using Humanure principles, maybe it could entail setting up a rotary composter. This of course departs from the "low-tech" of your basic Humanure system, but could produce a standard Pathogen destruction which would satisfy the authorities. One such composter is at this website. (I am in no way associated with the company.) http://www.jetcompost.com/

I believe you have replied to this question before, but cannot find where it was given, but I'll ask the question again: Do you think every part of your compost pile will reach the Thermophilic ideal temperature for the required time? Or are you relying on the long-term retention of at least a year to complete the job of Pathogen destruction?

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Sunday, April 12, 2009 - 8:47 pm
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I agree Alan, and fully understand your points. One solution would be for people to have humanure toilets and have someone else collect the full receptacles and compost the contents for them elsewhere. This could be a solution for a lot of people that would satisfy the authorities, who would then just have to oversee and regulate the centralized composting element.

This doesn't solve the issue of those of us who are happy to make our own compost, however, but who may face interference. My experience here in the US is that when the authorities realize that the humanure is being composted responsibly, they tend to look the other way rather than face litigating a person's right to make compost.

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Saturday, April 11, 2009 - 2:19 am
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Joe, in reply to your correspondent (email) in Victoria, Australia, I offer this comment.
It might be that the "authorities" who seem to be "difficult" in relation to the Humanure Toilet method, might personally approve. Yet they will not be allowed to say so. Their paramount duty is to measure up to the Australian Standards, and thus protect themselves from litigation which could put a huge cost-burden on the taxpayer who pays the Local Council's bills.
The other point to be aware of is that the person who sets up his/her own toilet, understands how it works and feels proud of it, WILL have it working perfectly. Yet the next person who buys the property will probably say, quite genuinely, "Sure, I know how it works. No problem." Then 3 months down the line, they find it doesn't work because they in fact haven't fully understood the details and complain to the Council. Or, a guest finds the daughter is suffering a "tummy bug" and takes legal action against the householder, who used be a friend!
It's frustrating for us who want do our own thing, in what we know is an environmentally sound and sensible way.
Although it does mean extra expense, maybe spending that extra $2400 could be the best way to go. Use the Humanure Toilet regardless and keep everyone happy.
There are at least two sides to every argument.

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Monday, March 23, 2009 - 3:04 pm
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This came via email:

I have a copy of your 'Humanure Handbook', am completely persuaded by the sense of what you write and am about to build a modest house of my own in a largely rural area. Naturally, I wish to incorporate your method of composting.

Unfortunately I live in Victoria, Australia, and to get a permit to build the house (a legal requirement in these parts), I must also get an approval to install a septic system. The grey water system is not a problem, but the toilet is: I am forced to buy an 'approved' system (by the way, these are in excess of 2400 AUD for a small, above ground toilet).

I have enquired of the relevant authorities if your bucket/heap system is approved, and if not, how one would go about getting it approved. In short, the answer is 'tough luck, it will not happen'.

I enclose for your interest the reply I received to my query. Unless there is 'an accountable company' which 'gurantees' the compost produced, etc, etc, the idea is a non-starter. I don't suppose by some miracle you actually know of such a company? (I'm not holding my breath)...

I must say this is very disappointing. No doubt I could buy and install a commercial unit and revert to the desired system as soon as the house has been inspected, but that would still leave me $2400 the poorer and with an unused, unwanted, commercial unit! I wonder if there are any 'approved' designs for temporary hire?

What is truly irritating is that I have actually been using your system at an undisclosed location for a couple of years with no problems at all, I'm very happy with it and would like to use the same in my new house.

Well, thanks for reading this. l will probably have to knuckle under and buy a commercial system, but it strikes me as stupid bureaucracy gone mad.

Regards,



> Subject: Your request for information from EPA
> Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2009 12:35:40 +1100


> Thank you for your recent email added 12 March 2009 referring to dry composting toilet systems. There are a number of dry manufactured composting toilet systems accredited in Victoria. Do-It-Yourself toilet systems are not accredited in Victoria because the compost quality must be guaranteed by an accountable company to be reliable, robust, replicable and safe. In order for a dry composting toilet to be accredited it must meet the microbiological requirements of the Australian Standard AS1546.2. If you have any further queries regarding the procedure for accreditation of a dry composting toilet system you can call me on 96952549.
>
> Yours sincerely
> ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AUTHORITY

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Sunday, July 27, 2008 - 6:24 am
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Jo, your video clips have been most interesting and informative, thanks.
I have a question regarding the use of Humanure in your garden: Do you add other fertilizers as well as the humanure? How many years have you been adding to the garden in this way?
You have given a lot attention to the addition of urine within the humanure. Is this all the nitrogen needed for the most part? Have studies been done?

Author: Reville (Rev)
Monday, July 21, 2008 - 2:09 am
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Denis

im only a humanure noob. but ive been composting a while

i split my waste 3 ways
-edible material goes to chickens - veg scraps, meat, fat
-fine scraps and eggshells go to the wormfarm, along with animal manures
- and humanures goes along with bones to a jenkins system

My cover materials are sawdust when i can get it. easy enough, $5 a trailer load - load yourself
or else i stockpile dry lawn clippings. no shortage of that in suburbia.

Author: Reville (Rev)
Monday, July 21, 2008 - 1:54 am
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im only a humanure noob. but ive been composting a while

dealing with fats and bones and meat is easy

i split my waste 3 ways
-edible material goes to chickens - veg scraps, meat, fat
-fine scraps and eggshells go to the wormfarm, along with animal manures
- and humanures goes along with bones to a jenkins system

if i didnt have the worms and chooks - everything would go in the jenkins bucket!
easy peasy

My cover materials are sawdust when i can get it. easy enough, $5 a trailer load - load yourself
or else i stockpile dry lawn clippings. no shortage of that in suburbia.

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Thursday, July 17, 2008 - 5:44 pm
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Yes, John. I would certainly be interested. Am in Melbourne right now, and will see if there is anything available here. But if you can order 3, there might be others wanting a thermometer, and you could order more, further reducing shipping costs.

Author: Tassiejohn (Tassiejohn)
Thursday, July 17, 2008 - 8:04 am
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A bit off the current thread, but directly related to the AUSTRALIA topic:

We've been using a sawdust toilet for 2 years now (and are looking forward to putting the first load of compost on the garden this spring!). The pile composts really well and seems hot as it steams when I pull back the cover material, but I don't know how hot it gets as I don't have a compost thermometer. I can only find commercial 'windrow thermometers' in Aus, which are hundreds of dollars.

I'm looking at buying a standard compost thermometer from the states (but one that includes a proper temperature scale, i.e. Celcius). The shop I'm talking to says same freight cost for 3. If I get 3 would anyone here like to buy one? I'd probably sell them over eBay for around $40.

Cheers,

John

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 9:47 pm
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Don't hesitate to keep posting, Alan. It's interesting!

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 6:19 am
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Here we go again.... hope you are not getting annoyed with my posts. It's just that every time I look back through any chapter of "The Book" I find more information, or get further insight into something I thought I knew already.
My description of the vermicomposter is as it's served me for a year or so. But by re-reading Chapter 3 - Micro Husbandry thoroughly I can see the benefits of converting to the Humanure Toilet as described. This will be done fairly soon now, as my new building is almost ready. There is a ready supply of forest leaves and leaf moult available, all year round, and I plan to use that as coarse cover material, and there are a couple of local timber mills from which to get free sawdust.
One further advantage will be that previously I have tended to separate urine from the toilet. With the Humanure system I can see that will not be necessary, in fact undesirable.
Gee! this is a fascinating subject, but also a very satisfying thing to be doing, in view of the environmental advantages.

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 - 2:21 am
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Another PS from me, my mind is a bit humus these days... !
Should have made it clear that I only add worms AFTER the bin is full and put aside for maturation period. Putting worms into the in-use bin would result in unhappy worms.
The eight months maturation produces an excellent compost.

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 - 2:14 am
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Dementer, you are quite right... my compost is not intended to be thermophilic. Only depending on the worms and time to do the job. I realise there is no guarantee that all pathogens will be dealt with, and would be most interested if anyone has done research in the area of vermiculture.
At a guess, I would expect the conditions to be alien to most if not all viruses which might harm us.
If I can find a laboratory which is willing to do some tests for me, I will post the results here.

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Monday, February 25, 2008 - 11:37 pm
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A recent study published in Compost Science and Utilization indicated that compostable material, when dumped in a large windrow, heated up nicely, but when the exact same material was put into smaller containers, in this case plastic back-yard compost tubs, they did not develop any internal thermophilic heat. This further supports the belief that a certain mass must be achieved before thermophilic conditions will arise (unless air is pumped through the compost artificially, in which case, a smaller mass may achieve thermophilic conditions).

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Monday, February 25, 2008 - 11:43 am
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Alan, your bins seem quite small for thermophilic composting. Do they reach a high temperature in the composting process, or is it mostly vermicomposting?

Author: Alan J Marshall (Ecointerest)
Monday, February 25, 2008 - 6:30 am
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Dear Joe, I thoroughly agree with Dennis…A great book! The World is a better place for the effects Humanure Handbook is having upon us "eccentric, disgusting weirdos that compost our poo!" Thank you Joe. I have adapted the principles to devising a "doggy dunny" whereby someone with a dog or dogs in the back yard can collect up the poo, part compost it with sawdust, then add it to the general worm farm. Whereas worms don't like fresh dog faeces, they really tuck into this pre-composted mix. You can read details in my little website, www.ecointerest.8k.com, but please be careful to avoid opening the pop-up ads. (I pay nothing for the site and so must tolerate the ads.)

Concerning my own composting loo, I took your basic principles of using sawdust and have developed a system that works well for me. There are plans for the sawdust bucket type loo, a la Humanure Handbook, to be installed in my newly built bathroom.
You might be interested in my current set up.

First I purchased four medium sized garbage bins. Approx. 45cm (18") deep and 45cm diameter at the top. Any bigger and you will find it difficult to lift when full. Half a dozen holes, ½ inch in diameter, are drilled in the bottom of the bin, partly for drainage, partly for the worms to migrate during later storage.

The bin is set into the ground, with approx. 100mm (4") rim above ground level. The lid has just a few tiny holes drilled into the centre, too small for blowflies to gain access. The midget flies are no problem even if they do get in. I have found bins with metal clip lid closures hold the lid on best during strong wind.

A second bin of the same size is used to store sawdust and a large plastic jar for the toilet roll.

It's a Squat Toilet for those (and yours truly) who are well enlightened on the subject, but an ordinary chair with toilet seat attached can be placed over the bin for those who prefer it. When each bin is full, it is lifted out, a jugful of water and a shovelful of worm-rich old compost added to the bin, and it is put aside for a minimum time of 8 months. During this time, the worms colonize and turn the contents into a remarkable compost.

Some souls have been moved to ask what it feels like to "go out there when it's a cold night, blowing a gale." I answer that the squat position is so quick and kind on the body, and I would never dream of spending more that 3 minutes out there. There is certainly no reading material provided! The system is very inexpensive, simple, environmentally perfect, absolutely no pollution, and a method that anyone can adapt to their liking.

Obviously, all the usual rules for disposal of the finished compost should be observed. I bury mine under 30cm (1 foot) of soil. Use gloves when handling it and wash hands afterwards. Care should be taken to prevent water flooding in and around the bin. Keep the lid on when not in use.

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Friday, February 01, 2008 - 2:28 pm
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I resized the photos and rotated the one that was sideways so they could be more easily seen.

Author: Denis Gauthier (Fecophile)
Thursday, January 31, 2008 - 10:35 pm
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These were old photos. I subsequently cut another hole in the top of the table and put a bucket of leaves underneath. I have enough table top left to make 3 compact toilets (just big enough for one toilet seat). Have made one so far.

The bin is about 1.8m (6ft) cube. Because it is on the side of a hill, my approach is already halfway up it, so the height is not a problem. In fact, with the door off (top half of one side, the part with the steel gyprock battens) it is a bit low. I guess the open top and layers of grass give it enough oxygen because there is no smell (if I remember correctly, low air = anaerobic = smelly).

Author: lynn Tompkins - (Lynn)
Thursday, January 31, 2008 - 11:58 am
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Thanks! I love the use of the table! I imagine the steel sides cut down on your water evaporation. Though I wouldn't think they would allow enough air into the compost. I guess it gets enough from the top. What are the dimensions?

Author: Denis Gauthier (Fecophile)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - 6:29 pm
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May be a bit hard to see, but the front of the compost bin (where the yellow handle of the pitchfork is visible) has metal gyprock battons riveted to it; and that portion is actually a door. It slides off of the front of the bin.

Author: Denis Gauthier (Fecophile)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - 6:27 pm
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May be a bit hard to see, but the front of the compost bin (where the yellow handle of the pitchfork is visible) has metal gyprock battons riveted to it; and that portion is actually a door. It slides off of the front of the bin.

Author: Denis Gauthier (Fecophile)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - 5:45 pm
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I'll attach the only photos I havehumanure compostcloseupdunny

Author: lynn Tompkins - (Lynn)
Monday, January 28, 2008 - 12:19 pm
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I'm new to this too Would love to see a picture of your set up. I'm having a hard time visuallizing it. I like the idea of having the grey water gravity feed to it, and am glad the dirt/decomposed leaf mix is working.
Thanks, Lynn

Author: Denis Gauthier (Fecophile)
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 11:07 pm
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Since this is my first post ever, I want to extend heartfelt thanks to Joe - for your outstanding contribution to humanity.

I read the Humanure Handbook a year ago and avidly read this message board (took me weeks) to find answers to my questions. Some answers I found and some I didn't. So I just went ahead with what I had and now I am reporting back for the greater benefit of this community.

My system cost me just about nothing. I found an old table and scrap metal from the dump. I constructed the toilet from the table. I constructed the compost bin from the scrap metal, mostly corrugated iron. I live on the ridge of a hill so I cut into the slope (no fill, just cut) and then dug out a bowl. It is set in front of an ironbark for stability. Four metal post wrapped in corrugated iron, with metal mesh lining the bottom and top of the compost bin. I put it on the hill so I could gravity feed graywater down to it since Queensland has a very dry climate. Because it is on a hill, half the bin sits below where I stand so I can reach into it easily. For that reason I made the bin a little bigger. It looks like it will hold 2 years' worth of family-of-4.

I am on 5 acres, most of it old canopy, very little grass. But the grassy area provides plenty for covering the compost. 10 minutes with the cane knife (machete) and I have all I need.

My system differs in 2 points from my understanding of most systems detailed on this forum:

1 - the toilet is constructed with very few air gaps. It is so tight that without cover material there is still just about no smell. I used Bunnings' standard 5 gallon bucket ($10) and the cheapest plastic bunnings toilet seat available ($7). I tried a wooden toilet seat first but it started to go moldy and the spacers to hold up the ring had an air gap. The cheap seat had no such gap and doesn't go moldy. Yes I still put cover on the stuff just to give carbon content, but my young children do not always remember, so this point was useful to us.

2 - cover material was my biggest quandry because I did not have cheap convenient access to anything I had read about. So I just used what was at hand... underneath the forest canopy is a (thin) layer of leaves and lots of sticks. Underneath the leaves are partly decomposed leaves, and just underneath that is dirt. I scoop the first 2 layers into a bucket and pick out the biggest twigs. Eucalypt leaves are probably not the best thing but they work ok. The layer underneath (dirt/decomposed leaf) works great. This has all dry-decomposed. I notice that wet-decomposed leaves from my gutters work the best for masking odour.

Best part of all of this is that my rubbish is reduced immensely. I get 1-2 buckets full of compost scraps along with the 4 buckets of humanure.

Now what do I do with bones and egg shell? I suppose I could throw it in the mix - wouldn't be worse than the twigs I don't pick out from my cover material.

So I am coming up to one year, the compost heap is odourless, everytime I pop the lid on it, I get an earthy smell only. The bin is not up to the halfway point, and it seems to be working fine without adding water (haven't run the graywater down the hill yet) since we have had more rain in the last months.

Any other Australian humanurers out there? Hope this helps... would love to hear your experiences.

Thanks again Joe,

Denis

Ps In case you are wondering about my un-aussie name, I am originally a French Canadian, but became an Aussie citizen last year.

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