Compost Toilets, an unusual form of Activism!


We have just commissioned yet another compost toilet at our new forest school near Ilfracombe.  I am particularly fond of this one as it is the first urine separating model we have built whilst working for this company.  My expectation is that separating the “waste” will result in better compost all around and less frequent emptying of the bins.

Our new toilet at Ilfracombe, complete with hand wash that helps flush the urinal


The reason I refer to “waste” in inverted commas above is because what is collected should not be considered waste at all.  The mainstream attitude to sewage and the way we normally treat it is very wasteful.  If we think about conventional toilet systems they are the definition and embodiment of waste in our society.  To me, they represent a huge waste of clean, drinking quality water that is degraded and polluted every time you flush.  Vast amounts of energy (in terms of built infrastructure such as, dams, pipes, chemicals and pumps) are utilised in supplying this precious resource.  We then have the large amount of infrastructure required to deal with the sewage problem.  Again, a vast chain of pipes, chemicals, filters, pumps and treatment plants are needed.  When we have storm events often untreated sewage is discharged into open water causing further pollution.

….or Valuable Resource?

With a dry composting toilet we do not produce waste, we produce a resource and we don’t need lots of water, (apart from to wash our hands of course!) The solid waste is mixed with a suitable soak material to provide the right balance of carbon and nitrogen for composting and to help manage the moisture levels.  The rest is left to nature and before too long, we have usable compost – a valuable resource! If managed well, it does not smell.

The interior – finished with signature toilet roll holder made of a branch!

So why is this activism?

If you think about the choices you can make as regards your lifestyle, I would put not polluting thousands of litres of clean drinking water there as a major benefit easily comparable with decisions about the food you eat and the amount you travel.  Then there is is the added bonus of having lots of resource-rich compost that can feed plants and grow food.  All this is achieved by you, a spade and a wheelbarrow.  By using a compost toilet, you are taking responsibility for your “waste” and not washing it away to be dealt with a company and the wider environment.

Over the coming months and years The Outdoors Group will be upgrading and adding more compost toilets and I hope you get a chance to experience them at one of our sites. If you have a suitable garden, why not consider building one of your own at home?

Author: Rob Kendall (AKA Bert or Minty), Estates Manager

Date: Wednesday 7th April 2021

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