Advertisements

All The Reasons Flush Toilets Are Actually The Gross Ones And Why I Love My Compost Toilet!

Macy M46 comments5051 views

I’m just going to break this down.  One of the main concerns about transitioning to a tiny house, right behind ‘where can I park it‘ is… ‘ummm, composting toilet? ewww?’ or something along those lines.  I PROMISE you, I am not embellishing on MY views, I still have family who refuse to use my potty, and that is okay.  I LOVE it though.   The longer I have it the less ‘gross’ it is (it really isn’t gross at all, I was worried about it initially but reality is different than perception in a good way on this one…) and actually the more gross and inconvenient a standard flush toilet is.   If I had it to do all over again I absolutely would go with a composting toilet again!  (If you want more info on my specific unit and the ordeal it was to get it I encourage you to read a few other posts which you can find HERE).
Here are ten reasons I love my composting toilet MORE than I could love a flush toilet:

Toilet brush

1.  This is not something I use.  More importantly this is not something that sits and gets grosser by the day next to my potty.  MORE important, this is not something I find my kid trying to paint the floors or her face with because she just discovered it when I turned my head for five seconds… I clean my potty, when needed with a little vinegar water and a paper towel that I just drop in when done.  The bowl is dark colored and doesn’t easily show any gross, it still gets cleaned but I find it needs to happen less often and is a much simpler process to do!

2.  There is no need to have this gross thing sitting beside your potty either.  For all the reasons above I am glad to not spot this in Hazels’ hands, EVERYTHING is a little closer in a tiny house and doors do get left open…  Even before I had a kid I thought these were gross, you KNOW that has touched poop at some point in it’s life and now it just lives on the floor next to the toilet… getting grosser.

3.  Also, what if one of these was NOT on the floor next to the toilet getting grosser and then you needed it!?  That could be embarrassing… it’s one of those ‘you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ situations that just doesn’t happen with a composting toilet.  No clogs at all!

download (1)

4.  This may be too much information but have you ever sat down to pee and had backsplash hit your rear?  If you’re not angled just right… it happens.  Sure you wipe it off but you know you have little particles of gross on you until you get your next shower… no water means no backsplash!

5.  This one applies more to public restrooms, or if you have brothers I suppose too (though composting toilets can’t help brothers…).  I was always lucky to grow up in a house with a ‘boy bathroom’ and a ‘girl bathroom’ one of those little things I constantly thank my mother for now…  You walk in the bathroom and sit down before looking at the seat only to find you sat in something wet… GROSS.  Is it pee? Probably someone elses’ pee at that…  Is it just water from the last flush that splashed out?  Still gross.  Best case, you walk in, see it first and then have to wipe the seat off just to sit down, or if you’re like me ‘hover’.  There is no way around that, it’s gross even in the best case.  Splash is gross and completely eliminated with no water!

6.  This one COULD just be me but I have always been a self conscious pee-er… I don’t like other people hearing my pee.  Public rest room, in home with the door cracked, it doesn’t matter, that is MY business, I don’t like producing any sound… I also don’t like hearing other people pee… it’s a thing.  You don’t hear anything with my compost toilet.  You can ninja pee all you want.

plumber_smell

7.  People, myself included, who have never used a composting toilet often just assume it smells.  Do you think tiny house people are just the sort of people who don’t mind living somewhere that stinks of waste all the time?  Or maybe that we are the sort that LIKE the smell of urinals?  No, we don’t like the smell any more than the next person does… A properly functioning composting toilet DOES NOT SMELL.  I promise!

The best thing you can do to eliminate smells is separate the solids and the liquids, a toilet that does that will work great!   On top of that, my particular unit is constantly vented to the exterior so even if it wasn’t working properly I would only smell it from the outside.  The best part about that particular feature is that no matter how dire the specific situation was there is no smell, instead of things being vented from the ceiling and all those smells allowed to fill up the room, and sometimes into others, the smells are entirely contained IN the toilet.  You cannot tell when someone just pooped unless they tell you… which sometimes happens… some people actually have it on their bucket list to poop in a composting toilet, I’m not joking… 🙂

flushing

8.  This is one I am appreciating more and more every day since I am pregnant and get up 2-8 times a night to pee (annoying!).  I don’t have to announce to the whole house I just peed by flushing the toilet in the middle of the night, every time.  Flushes are loud, they can wake kids up, they can disrupt sleep.  It’s probably not standard in a bigger house because the bathroom is probably further than 10 feet from a sleeping baby but in a tiny house I think about this every time, if I flushed I would PROBABLY wake the kid up and then lose even more sleep trying to get her back down.
Yes, you can do the ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow…’ thing but I have never been a fan of that, I think it goes back to the self conscious pee-er thing… and the gross splash thing… and the… well all of it… I am grateful for silent ‘flushes’.

Pic-Water_Conservation_Tipsn-Pic

9.  These get into environmental factors…  Conserving water!  It takes 1.6 gallons of clean drinking water every single time you flush your toilet.  Say you flush it 10 times a day (that is VERY conservative for a pregnant lady…) that is 16 gallons of CLEAN drinking water, This is the biggest water usage throughout the average persons day.  To move ‘not clean’ water (pee) and occasionally some solids to a center so that it can be chemically treated and then used again…   It is a huge cycle but that is what it is when you opt to tie to city water.  It’s the same with a septic only it isn’t recycled.  That is insane to me, it may not seem like much but per person that is HUGE.  There is a ton of embodied energy in the effort it takes to get clean water, it happens off site so we don’t see it, there are chemicals, there is biology, there are impacts.  We work so hard to make it so easy for the end user to just flush a ‘gross’ [my words because I think flush toilets are gross, so ha!] toilet but those processes have impacts that effect us all.  Removing the water from this one system can cut my own personal water use damn near in half!

I LIKE not being a part of that system, I like focusing instead on putting such MINIMAL effort into managing my own waste (I have had to ‘deal’ with this ONE time in over two years.  One time, it took all of maybe 20 minutes and a hose, and it is safe and sanitary!) and not contributing to that system.  Every drop does count.

 

images

This is what various levels of water look like, we eventually drink the stuff on the left, after it has been treated chemically and biologically to get to the stage that it is on the right.  Water is just recycled, we are drinking dinosaur pee if you want to think of it that way, for some reason I do… that’s not weird, is it?  The earth has an amazing way of cleaning and recycling our water but when we add chemicals to the process we have to do more to take on that task.  We have created HUGE compounds to do just that, nearly every city in America has one, a water reclamation site.  We have to use other chemicals to take out the first chemicals so that we can have the perception of a clean bathroom so we can pee in it and flush it all away keeping up our perception of ‘clean’.

WWTP1a

This is how we treat water.  If you have never been to a water reclamation site I STRONGLY suggest you head to one.  Most of them have a visitor center, most love to give tours because the more informed all of the users can be the easier the reclamation process can be.  It is an eye opening experience.  You won’t look the same at things.  You will think twice before you flush something down the potty.  Go into it and be mature, I have seen grown ass adults turn into 4 year olds at water reclamation sites… don’t, it’s a real process just like a trip to a landfill…  YOU can impact it for the better just by getting a better understanding of it.

 

normal_iil_diagram_wastewater_treatment_tropical_connections

This is all of the steps every single toilet flush has to go through to get it back to something we can all drink again.  It’s pretty intense!  Grey water (showers, sinks, etc.) can be processed differently than black water (toilets, cook prep sinks where raw meat is washed, etc.) but for convenience it all gets sent to the same place and it ALL gets heavily treated to bring it back to something we can reuse again, most likely to flush another toilet…  This brings me to my final point.

10.  I have removed myself entirely from this system.   Ultimately this system is not to treat waste, waste is a very natural part of our lifecycle, this system is to treat water.  It just separates out the waste which ultimately just goes back into the circle of life and essentially gets composted anyway… just off site from us.  Every body poops guys and girls.  Dogs poop in yards all the time and most people don’t even process that the same as people poop, mentally.  It is the same.  It is not hard to manage your own waste.  It is harder to pick up dog poop from the yard in all honestly.  It feels great to not contribute to this recycling of water process and to take the task of managing my own waste on myself.  There are safe and sanitary ways to do it and they are not that hard to do!

It’s funny the mental shift that has taken place in this little living expiriment for me.  Like most people one of my biggest concerns was the potty and it being gross but I was committed to give it a try.  I seriously love my composting toilet more than a flush toilet.  I now think of flush toilets as ‘gross’ because after using a compost system they are!  (that is personal opinion… I know… but it’s mine!)

Advertisements
Macy M
I am an artist, a steward, a minimalist at heart... I love being out in the sunshine... I love animals of nearly every kind, at least the furry ones, I am trying to be a gardener... I believe people are good at the core but are also capable of very bad things when they aren't intentional about their actions... I love my family, my passions and my life... I am just me :)

46 Comments

  1. Macy I agree 100%! TO add to your list, everytime you flush solid waste, if you dont close the lid you are sending particles of poop water into the bathroom~ disgusting!
    I love my composting toilet and struggle everytime I go somewhere that demands flushing. A step that would help California with its lack of water is to not waste drinking water by flushing!

  2. Such an excellent summation of the illogic of flush toilets. I have decided my next outing with my 7 year old niece will be to her local sewage treatment plant. Start her young in understanding how much water is wasted on poop and pee. I don’t want her growing up believing, like most adults in the West have, in the invisibility of the consequences of our overuse of our resources. Plus, she’s 7. She loves poop jokes. What better than a poop reclamation factory?

      1. Wierdo 🙂
        Can’t wait until I can afford one, then the tankless water heater!!
        This whole series has been very beneficial. Thanks for being straight forward☮

  3. Oh Macy, I thank you for your article. I have been using a “split system” designed by yours truely for almost 5 years. The amount of water used to flush my overactive “I gave birth to 3 huge babies” warn out bladder makes me feel guilty. So, happy to get the fabulous support you very bravely supply.

    Cheers,
    Rae

  4. yup! Been using a composting toilet for 3 days now and there is so much less drama than a flush toilet. And I just disposed of my plunger and toilet cleaning brush today.

  5. Do you use composted waste elsewhere? A garden, etc? I believe that’s something I would do to complete the cycle. I’ve read that the end result of the composting toilet is very useful as such.

    1. I do! I dump the compost toilet compost into my garden compost bin, it essentially gets composted twice and then gets used with the rest of the compost for my gardening/flower beds!

  6. Hey Macy,
    We will be purchasing a composting toilet soon and a new worry as arose. In considering a ceiling bathroom fan vent (with intentions of expelling shower moister and maybe venting our whole space) I am becoming concerned with the potential for it to over power the small fan in the toilet vent tube causing a back draft in which odors are sucked back into the space. Do you have a bathroom and/or a range hood vent fan and have you had any prior experience with this? Thanks!

    R+S

    1. That is an excellent concern… I have no idea. I don’t THINK it would be a problem but it may depend on the proximity of the waste. mine is a good distance away because I have a remote unit so I don’t think it would pull that hard but if it was a shorter distance?? I imagine if the lid was closed in either case it wouldn’t be an issue though… I do not have a vent in the kitchen/bathroom, just operable windows that get used.

  7. At one point didn’t you get little flies? How did you end up getting rid of them? Or was it someone else? I hate my crappy memory…

    1. You have a good memory! 🙂 I did get flies but as expected they were not from the toilet, I had purchased some bananas and a house plant right before I got them. One of them is the culprit! I did as a commentor suggested and put a couple banana peels in a bucket to sit and collect them, then when they were in there shut it and took it outside. That cleared them up and I had no issues after that. It was also suggested if it was from the toilet that I use diatomaceous earth and sprinkle that in the bin, that was my next step but I didn’t need to use it! Hope that helps!

  8. Curiously, I’ve had a flush toilet for years & years and never had a blockage to deal with. Maybe if people need to unclog things so frequently it’s time to check if the system is working fine? (haha sounds as if I’m talking about constipation)

    Backsplashs are rare, and particles of gross are in contact with our skin all the time as soon as we touch anything. I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Number 5… Well, if there’s water you can at least wonder if it’s just water or some pee; if there isn’t, then you just KNOW it’s pee. 😀

    I agree with the toilet brush. I wish there was a more, ahem, “charming” option. And living in a small house with a sleeping baby I’m sure not having a noisy flush is a blessing. And I totally believe it doesn’t smell either; my dad has a composting toilet outside his summer house in the woods (he just drops some ash on top after doing his business) and even though I’m not 100% keen on it I can tell it smells of… nothing. 🙂

    On a side note, I’m glad you’ve found a solution that works so well for your and your family, but no need to call other people’s toilets “gross” to make your point. I would be sad to read people calling your toilet like that here in the comments…

    1. It is said in jest, I have been told literally thousands of times by people that my toilet is ‘gross’. We are all entitled to our own opinions… I do think flush toilets are gross though for many reasons…

  9. Thanks for posting this Macy. For myself a composting toliet in my tiny house is the only option that Iam considering. Your are an inspiration and I always enjoy reading you posts and learning.

  10. Wow, great plunger photo!

    If it were only that simple for us…

    Out here in Western Washington the biggest hurdle we face is code enforcement (brick wall). If someone needs to have plans approved by a building department, I can tell you first hand, the State will never, ever approve a composting toilet system (i.e. no greywater systems, no composting toilet systems, nada) without a licensed, tested and approved septic system or sewer connection.

    In fact, locally we can’t legally have a tiny house on our property if it’s NOT connected to a septic or sewer system. And, yes, they check and fine you if it’s not.

    Septic systems average $15K-18 in most places around here and how about a sewer hook-up? For that it’s about $25K where we are now.

    In Maine we could have outhouses still (on acreages).

    Thanks for the rebellious humor and long live clean alternatives…

    1. That is just nuts! I know Oregon has some exceptions, largely in place because of California’s exceptions (they allow approved compost systems mostly because of the water crisis), I wish it would migrate all over!

  11. Thanks for this! We are considering buying a house (a full time residence) with 2 composting toilets and a central system. How was it with a toddler? I am pregnant and envisioning the little kiddo dropping things in the basin that I then can’t retrieve… or falling in completely! Can you see the bottom of it? I also think that a few family members might have a problem using it, and we are considering adding a single flush toilet and sink to the house for those squeamish people, since there is a sand mound for gray water already.

    1. If you have a central system I believe your set up will actually be different than my gravity system BUT you can in fact see the bottom if you get a flashlight in there. So far we are ok with the toddler and the toilet. I on the other hand have dropped my deodorant down in there never to be retrieved! I will get it (and toss it) when I empty out the bin! I get more concerned about HER actually falling in, we have to definitely use a kiddo potty seat until they are too big!

  12. Great post Macy! Do you mind if I link to this from my website? You addressed some the most common questions I hear day to day all in one nice, well written post!

  13. I am with you. I will be starting my tiny house next summer and cannot wait to use a composting toilet. I don’t have any current experience with it but I HATE wasting resources. I cannot think of a more wasteful “convenience” than the toilet.
    Check out my blog documenting my progress. I am hoping to start the first tiny house community in Dayton, Oh. We have found a piece of property (just haven’t acquired it yet) and will be putting together our mission statement this month.
    http://www.AnUnusualLife.com

  14. Hello!
    Hopefully a future homesteader here, I read you have children? How do you help them make the shift from a flushable potty to a compost potty? Also, is it just me or does anyone else have anxiety about their Littles falling in the ‘gross’ compost potty? (still making the mental shift myself and trying to distinguish compost from an outhouse/port-a-potty) Any advice is appreciated!

    1. HI! My kiddos are just dinkie, we are just getting the hang of the potty with the oldest (2 1/2 years), they were born while living tiny so there is no transition, this is really all they know. I am waiting for her to ask ‘where’s the sawdust’ while in the restroom of the store or something, preferably around others so I can get the full experience of the weird looks :). It would be pretty tough to fall in so I’m not too worried about it, she uses a toddler seat and is surprisingly cautious about most things. Composting toilets are a world apart from what most think of when they hear the term… SO different from the yucky camp potties and RV toilets. Those are NOT compost, just waste holding tanks. And they smell. And… gross. 🙂

  15. Thank you for “going there” on this topic. It’s so incredibly important. I agree: toilet water, plungers, septic tanks (black water) are SO gross! While peat moss is desirable. Your composting toilet sounds lovely & Denver is very handsome.

    #Ninja Pee
    #Nuclear Poo

    And the title are SO funny!

    1. I’ll be totally honest and say I actually have no experience with this… I’ve been pregnant or nursing the entire time I’ve been in the house…(tmi, I know). technically though it just goes in the bin, mine is one step, self separating (drains via perforated drum). I think, if I remember correctly, in a two step manually separated unit the blood goes in with the solids (if using a diva cup or something) and is composted as needed. It won’t hurt anything to go into the liquids it just isn’t ‘sterile’ like urin so you may have to dump the urine in your compost bin when needed (sometimes people dump it elsewhere… hopefully that helps 🙂

  16. This might sounds a silly question, but can you use this as a beside commode for someone who has a difficult time getting out of the bed and traveling to the bathroom?

    1. they have self contained units that would probably work better, this one is installed through a floor. I know some others have used the self contained units for that though.

    2. Hi GBee!

      This toilet would not make a great option for your situation but I think a truly portable toilet that does not require external venting would be perfect for you.

      If you are able to vent the toilet, the easiest would be the Natures Head found here… https://www.shoptinyhouses.com/collections/dry-flush/products/laveo-dry-flush-toilet

      If venting is not possible, I would go for something more like the Dry Flush found here…. https://www.shoptinyhouses.com/collections/dry-flush/products/laveo-dry-flush-toilet

Say Something!

%d bloggers like this: