The look in peoples faces

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure: The look in peoples faces
Author: Stephen Linebaugh Jr
Thursday, May 03, 2001 - 8:55 am
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"Where's your bathroom?" Your guest asks. I allways hesitate for a second, wondering how to introduce and explain what they are about to engage in. It's never easy and my wife is starting to regret the whole sawdust bucket idea, based solely on the reaction and disaproval of certain, actually the majority of our guests.
Does anyone have any recomendations on how to approach the introduction in a smooth manner?
I'm sure everyone has had the same "problem".
Stephen

Author: Joe Jenkins
Sunday, May 06, 2001 - 11:33 am
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Post a sign on the outside of the bathroom door that says "compost toilet" and then another instructional one inside that briefly explains how to use the toilet. Then you won't have to explain anything, just tell your guests how to get to the toilet and they can figure it out for themselves.

Author: Jean Mayes
Thursday, July 05, 2001 - 2:10 pm
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I went to a friend's house that CELEBRATED the composting toilet! There was a gold paper crown to wear when you were on the 'throne'!

Author: Amy-Sunshine
Sunday, December 02, 2001 - 12:25 am
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Stephen, I understand where you're coming from! My husband is, at the moment anyway, rather insistent on having a septic tank and "normal" toilet in our future home, because of this feared "guest reaction." I'm a bit concerned about it myself.

I wonder if people would be less appalled by the bucket if the whole thing were deeper down, such as in a more familiar latrine or clivus multrum set-up. What about having a "chute" and then the bucket at the bottom? (This would require cutting a hole in the floor, and sinking the whole thing down into the basement or lower floor.) If a dark bucket and chute were used, one wouldn't even be able to see the stuff at the bottom (just don't place a light directly above the toilet).

The potential for mess and saw-dust stuck to the sides of the chute would be pretty high, but maybe if you used a dark covering material like peat moss, it wouldn't be noticeable against the dark walls of the chute. I think the increase in mess would be a reasonable trade off for having the "pile" substantially further away from the senses. What do others think about this idea?

Author: Brad Carroll
Thursday, December 13, 2001 - 11:24 am
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I have thought about the same thing, and right now I am the only person that uses the humanure bin. When I have a guest I direct them to the regular bathroom (most are never told about my "other" toilet). I think the mental barrier for most folks is the lack of the familiar, shiny porclain, and not the use of cover material.

One solution I am considering is to replace the regular bathroom toilet with a more normal looking "waterless toilet" that I've seen for sale by Real Goods (about $750.00). A commerical humanure toilet like that has the advantage of looking "official" rather than "rustic," though I must say I personally love the rustic look myself. (I stained mine with organic oils and glaze:))

Author: saths
Monday, March 25, 2002 - 3:18 pm
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I can bet that 20 years from now this idea will have caught on. I have told about 12 people about it but they all seemed to have no interest about it but if power goes out they'll be glad they heard about it.

Author: Anonymous
Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 10:07 pm
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Personally, anyone that came to my house and didn't appreciate my ideals, if for nothing but the time they were there, wouldn't have to bother coming back. When in Rome, do as the Romans:-)

Loved that Golden Crown idea... that actually made me laugh out loud with the imagery.

Author: Larry Warnberg
Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 11:17 pm
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Social acceptance is a complex issue. The problem was solved in our household by adding a bucket toilet adjacent to the flusher. Guests are informed that they have a choice, as in any Democracy worthy of the name: poop in a bowl of drinking water, or make an eco-deposit for our landscaping. There hasn't been a flush for a long time. Porcelain de-throned, bucket crowned king.
Alternatively, Larry
warnberg@pacifier.com

Author: Herb_Wis.
Sunday, December 21, 2003 - 12:37 pm
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Here is how I handle that problem.

First off, my sawdust toilet is outside -- an outhouse using the plastic bag/sawdust (not a bucket) system. I have 2 outhouses side-by-side with doors on opposite sides. One is for my use and the other is for guests.

The guest outhouse is always pristine. A brand new plastic bag sits under the boxed in toilet seat with clean sawdust lining the bottom and more fresh flushing sawdust in a pail nearby. There is a card on the wall explaining how to use it with the suggestion: NOT to urinate in it if possible (cuts down on oder).

I always direct guests to the clean guest outhouse so they can have their own private personal toilet space and let them change the bag as often as they like and use as much sawdust as they think they need. This works well for me.

Author: Steve Coleman
Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 3:04 pm
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I'm not going to say I "grew up" using an outhouse however there were occassions where that was the only option other than the "woods".

While not "common" they weren't necessarily "uncommon" either. I didn't develop the attitude that having an "out-house" was a sign of "poverty" when young.

My only problems with using an out-house was:

A) The smell
B) The flies.

I'd "heard" about composting toilets for years and read all the claims about them not "smelling" but never believed it until last summer when I used one based on the Phoenix System in a park in the St. Louis area.

Once you see that an idea is "possible" you (or I do at least) become open to similar possibilities.

My youth and "construction job porta-pots" taught me that an outhouse stinks and draws flies. My experience with a Phoenix System showed me that it doesn't have to. Heck I was so amazed I got a ranger to open things up so I could look around at the "nuts and bolts" of it.

I will probably construct and use a sawdust toilet outside this summer to "test". If it doesn't stink or draw flies, I'd have no problem with one in any house I might build in the future (it's doubtful I'd gut my current bathrooms though).

The people I call friends are use to my "quirks" and if I decided to go with a particular system they'd adapt. The ones that couldn't have been "culled" many years ago.

I would however provide pre-printed instructions and reading material on the subject for them to view while trying something new.

People might hesitate and look funny but if the place was clean and absent from odors and insects, while they might not rush out and do it themselves I don't believe they'd have any problems they couldn't get over.

You get right down to it .. the Phoenix System is perfect for a user with a lot of gas ... it's truely amazing. There is nothing left to offend either the current or next user.

I don't see why you couldn't do (what looks to me) a simple modification of the sawdust toilet to incorporate that aspect if you where so inclined and wanted one permanetly installed inside the home.

That way you could have the best of properties from both systems. A Phoenix system is obviously 100-200 times much more expensive than a sawdust toilet but in many cases could be offset by the cost of building a conventional septic system or connecting to an existing sewer.

Additionally it doesn't create the heat necessary for me to consider using the by-products on my vegetable garden.

As far as someone asking me to use a sawdust toilet, I'll try almost anything once, twice even if I don't have a bad experience.

Author: emily rain
Monday, May 10, 2004 - 8:04 pm
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i added my sawdust toilet to my standard bathroom, and both toilets have instruction cards on them. the sawdust one says (after one of the pictures in the book):

1. make your deposit, 2. cover with sawdust, 3. have a great day!

and the flush one says:

you are about to piss into our island's water table. don't be surprised if flushing makes the shower gurgle; there's a clogged vent somewhere.

Author: Annemarie
Saturday, June 12, 2004 - 1:02 pm
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We used to have similar problems with what we call "pit toilets" here in South Africa. Then we discovered a locally manufactured waterless toilet. The completely dry waste ends up in a re-usable waste bag and it can be used for compost. It sells for about USD 600 here and it worked so well my husband is marketing them for the company now.

Author: Anonymous
Sunday, June 13, 2004 - 9:03 am
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My understanding of this thread is that it is about people's reactions to composting toilets. A "pit toilet" can in no way be compared to a composting toilet, as it is usually unhygenic, smelly, and environmentally unsound! It is also associated with poverty, rural living and outdated custom. These were (are still) external toilets, whereas the composting loo is a replacement toilet for the internal water closet.

As a former South African, 600 USD is WAY too much for the average South African to pay for a toilet. Does it come gilded in gold? =^)

Author: Anonymous
Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 12:56 am
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I wonder if it would be politer to explain the toilet situation before inviting the person over? That way they'll be prepared and maybe less disapproving?

Author: admin
Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 12:26 pm
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And maybe they'll just stay home...;-)

Author: heather
Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 11:51 am
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I had a potluck almost immediately after installing my new bucket system toilet. I haven't taken out the old flushie (yet- still negotiating with partner) so as guests head for the loo, they are greeted with an intersection sign.
" wasteful flush toilet->
<-delightful,odorless,sanitary composter toilet"

If they still choose to head for the flushie, they are greeted by a sign on the lid proclaiming
"STOP!!! you do not have to foul 3 gallons of drinking water! You can use the compost toilet. Follow the signs"

When they get to the bucket, in a nice spacious room next door with a lamp and the wood stove, the lid reads
"directions for use. 1. Lift lid, have a seat, make deposit. 2. Open green bucket and cover deposit with 1 scoop sawdust (or more as needed) 3. Enjoy guilt free feelings of not having fouled clean water. Thanks!"

I don't think anyone has used the flushie.

Author: Larry
Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 10:25 am
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Democracy is about choosing responsibly. Congratulations for your democratic toilet arrangement, Heather. We have a similar system where the flusher and humanure harvester sit side by side. Guests are offered a choice: pollute drinking water, or contribute to growing beautiful flowers in our garden. The flusher rarely gets used, the majority have voted to conserve water, prevent pollution, and return valuable nutrients to the soil.

Author: Andrew Trey Belcher
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 1:06 pm
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what is humanure really is it really what it sounds like?
Well dumn question so i will be going now
Thank you alot
Andrew Belcher.

Author: Anonymous
Friday, March 10, 2006 - 3:28 pm
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if anyone wants an Envirolet composting to use or to use to improve the looks of your bucket toilet, i have one that i used for about two months. i will make you a deal on it, but you have to pick it up.

John Wey

Yakima, WA

Author: Rangdrol
Friday, March 10, 2006 - 6:52 pm
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Good On You Yakima!

Hospitality is trumped by the Golden Rule.

We dont go about whizzing in their water.
We dont complain about the way they waste water and pollute on their patch.

We decided the only real problem was going to be the MIL. We began "conditioning" her 3 years ago. Just mentioning it, talking about things around it - like the water - and dropping it in. You know getting her ready. We are going to have a composting toilet mom.
Last year she came to visit and saw the vault half constructed [she brought her motorhome with its toilet of course]. Now she says she will come up and "camp" with us this summer without her motorhome.
We have been wavering on a two seater. We are considering [really] one of those padded warm seats just for her.

The best battle is the one you don't fight kind of thing.

Author: ktb
Monday, June 05, 2006 - 7:43 am
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what do you do with toilet tissue? Add it to the deposit before covering with sawdust? Also you can also use ash instead of sawdust to cover the deposit can't you? Thanks

Author: TCLynx
Monday, June 05, 2006 - 8:29 am
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Tissue can go right in the bucket no problem. We generally toss paper towels and facial tissue in as well instead of sending it to the landfill.

I suppose ash might work as cover material in a pinch but it is better used directly in the garden. Ash does nothing to help the compost.

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