Now I could have listed items in this post, but thought, when I got to it, number 2 might be a bit awkward, so lets stick to paragraphs.
Firstly, to the problem. Well, we all need to ‘go’, whether you’re urban or rural - nature always calls. For a long time now we have (in the ‘civilised’ world), relied on water and plumbing, to dispose of things. Yes, lovely clean fresh water. We flush away our ‘remains’ with it, whilst our fellow man can't access it for drinking. Like any other resource, that the planet provides, there is only a finite amount. Population explosions, natural disasters and just plain wastefulness means fresh water could well become a scarcity - at the least it’ll become very expensive and controlled by rich, corrupt corporations (if its not already); Quantum Of Solace, (not the best Bond film) illustrated this quite well…
Add to the issue of wasting fresh water, in this way, there’s then the question of where does this (now contaminated) waste go. Cute films like Flushed Away (where not a single ‘floater’ was rendered beautifully in amazing 3D) show a lovely, clean sewer full of fun creatures. The reality is a little messier and scarier.
Now I haven’t studied this subject in detail or 'dug deep' to find out, but, from what I have gathered, there are two main ‘destinations’. The first is straight out into rivers and the sea - nice! The second is its sent to treatment plants to be dealt with. That’s great, it gets treated and ‘cleaned’ and then put back into the system, where its harmless. OK, but how do they ‘treat’ it and with what. You can guarantee its some pretty terrible stuff, that probably causes more harm than the untreated s**t it 'fixes'. And where does this go and how is it disposed of?
Lastly, have you ever tried plumbing? It drives me nuts. Things’ll just stop working, get blocked, leak and generally try to bring your house down. Try to fix them yourself and you can guarantee you haven’t got quite the right size tool - in that shed full of of tools, you have accumulated. Then there’s the blocked drains - which have actually put me in casualty once (and not because the family had had a vindaloo the night before!). Enter the Plumber - a magician with a plunger for a wand; but also a wizard with the invoice-spellbook.
So, once at the croft, I’m not prepared to subject nature or myself to this reckless waste anymore. But what’s the alternative - a hole in the ground? No. For many centuries, before ‘plumbing’, people used various forms of Composting Toilets (and still do in more 'rural' places today). There are a number of very sophisticated versions of them available. But, at their basic level, they are akin to festival toilets (but much nicer, cleaner and not prone to being tipped over by drunken revellers).
Human waste (Humanure) is like any other manure - once broken down and composted, it can be used to fertilise soil for growing. It has to be left to compost and break down for about a year. After this, it has literally turned into compost - bearing no resemblance to what it once was. If you bought it from a garden centre you’d never know (unless the marketeers had put a cute cartoon character on the packaging, based on the source of the product). Urine is slightly different. Still a great nitrogen-rich fertiliser and ‘bug spray’ - if diluted with water - it can be used almost immediately. So needs to be kept separate; this also stops any smell. A properly conceived and used Composting Toilet will not smell.
Once at the croft, we plan to build a couple of Composting Toilets, for our own use and for visitors. Having read up about it, I am (optimistically) confident it should be pretty straight forward. You obtain a couple of containers of some sort (i.e. lidded buckets) - this way you can alternate them, once full - which you build a wooden ‘box’ around. On the top of this you cut a hole and attach a normal toilet seat. I have found a nice and simple urine separator, which will have a separate tube and ‘bottle’ attached. Toilet paper can be used as normal. Then, the done thing, is to sprinkle a handful of sawdust over it, when you are finished. This takes away any smell and aids the composting process. There is a sawmill just down the road at Dundonnell, where they just want to get rid of the sawdust anyway.
So, we should end up with nice, neat, clean toilets - not unlike the the one in the photo above. With not much routine maintenance other than emptying, into a designated compost bin, at intervals. Then, in a year’s time, it’ll help us grow excellent vegetables, and you can guess where they’ll eventually end up… Ah, the circle of life. Hakuna Matata!
We’ll post the actual build and installation of these, as we do it; giving more detailed info on any pitfalls or suggestions we come across. This’ll be one of the first projects we undertake as we'll be 'desperate' and hoping it'll be a project filled with humour (you know the kind!).
More information, on this much more environmentally and productive way of ‘dumping’ waste, can be found at the sites below.
www.sunfrost.com (where the great illustration above came from)
humanurehandbook.com (Humanure Headquarters!)
www.omick.net (where the photo came from)