All The Reasons Flush Toilets Are Actually The Gross Ones And Why I Love My Compost Toilet!
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. Some of my family still 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.) A standard flush toilet is actually more gross and inconvenient to me. 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:
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!
There is no need to have this gross thing sitting beside your potty either. Therefore, 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.
Also, what if one of these was NOT on the floor next to the toilet 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!
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!
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 else’s’ 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!
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. Therefore, you can ninja pee all you want.
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. 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.
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. 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. I am grateful for silent ‘flushes’.
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!). I like not contributing to that system. Every drop does count.
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 natural way of cleaning and recycling our water. 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 other chemicals for a perception of a clean bathroom. All so we can pee in it and flush it all away keeping up our perception of ‘clean’.
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.
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.). For convenience it all gets sent to the same place. 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.
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 not hard to manage your own waste. In all honestly, it is harder to pick up dog poop from the yard . 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 experiment 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!)