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Old 04-12-2021, 04:27 PM   #1
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Composting Toilets Are Not "Green"

For those of you who are actually composting and burying your stuff, this is not for you. Seriously good job. I commend your effort.

I also think this is a free(ish) country and you should do what works for you.



The Problem

If you are throwing your compost into the trash I think you are doing more harm to the environment than you would be if you were using a standard black water system.



I spoke with an old sewage engineer and I have confirmed a few bits of this on the EPA website. Your black water system contents end up as clean water and a small amount of sterilized solids. At this point the solids either go for Ag use or unfortunately to the landfill. Every utility/city is different. Keep in mind this is after bacteria has really chewed through all of this and there is a fraction of the original amount left.

By contrast, if you are throwing your TP, solids and substrate into a landfill you are taking things that could be used to feed to the soil food web and encasing them for all time. You are essentially removing these things from the ecosystem.

An Alternative

Add a bidet. You will basically completely eliminate your TP usage. There is goes a big part of the solids. They are now replaced with about 1 pint of water that will remain in the water cycle. At this point you have seriously lowered the amount of solids you put through the system. I recommend the Toto c100 but my trailer has a house handmedown, Smartbidet-1000.



Peter's Sewer Tips

  • Floppy sewer hoses are messy, stiff sewer hoses with caps are not
  • Septic Safe bio tabs make short work of the few solids in your tank
  • Bidet


As a permaculture designer and self diagnosed critical thinker, I have wanted to like composting toilets. I just can't get there. Someone correct me if I have missed something. From my perspective these are more work. They are more frequent work. They leave me less clean. In most situations where the trailer is being used to travel with, composting toilets are not practical to actually compost, negating any positive effect they could have on the environment.

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Old 04-12-2021, 05:25 PM   #2
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Can't speak for others, but to me the reason for switching to a composting toilet would be to conserve the small amount of on board water for things other than flushing the toilet.

Yes, a bidet can eliminate some toilet paper usage but not all, and even if it could eliminate all TP usage it would only increase the water consumption and not really eliminate any problems. Certainly would fill the black tank more quickly.

Not trying to be critical of anyone whose primary goal is to minimize environmental impact. We do our best to do that, but that goal for us has to be balanced with other goals. I also have to wonder how the chemicals many use in their black tank play into the environmental impact of dumping a black tank vs. throwing a bag of partially composted poop in the trash every week or so.
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Old 04-12-2021, 06:20 PM   #3
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Those things are just litter boxes for humans
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Old 04-12-2021, 07:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richard5933 View Post
Can't speak for others, but to me the reason for switching to a composting toilet would be to conserve the small amount of on board water for things other than flushing the toilet.

Yes, a bidet can eliminate some toilet paper usage but not all, and even if it could eliminate all TP usage it would only increase the water consumption and not really eliminate any problems. Certainly would fill the black tank more quickly.

Not trying to be critical of anyone whose primary goal is to minimize environmental impact. We do our best to do that, but that goal for us has to be balanced with other goals. I also have to wonder how the chemicals many use in their black tank play into the environmental impact of dumping a black tank vs. throwing a bag of partially composted poop in the trash every week or so.
Water conservation is definitely a valid reason to use one.



You've inspired me to do a bit more research on this tank treatment. It does say things like septic safe, 100% biodegradable though. I don't think this is like the old toxic black treatments people used.
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Old 04-12-2021, 07:22 PM   #5
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Lots of things are "septic tank safe" that will still cause trouble in the environment or in the septic tank where you dump. Just like many things are 100% natural that I wouldn't want anywhere near groundwater.

The truth is, virtually no one holds waste in their black tank long enough for biologic breakdown of waste. Sure, it turns into a very liquid slurry, but that's not the same as the bacteria breaking things down into something else, especially something safer than waste.

The only real decision here is whether you want very stinky liquid waste to dispose of, or if you want much less stinky solid waste. I get it that composting toilets are not for everyone, but to me they are no more or less environmentally friendly than a black tank toilet. They both have an impact, just a different one.
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Old 04-12-2021, 07:48 PM   #6
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veteran compost toilet manager; no more

I like the concept of composting toilets but have not yet found myself in the right conditions or with adequate knowledge and discipline. I operated two different Envirolet composting toilets over four years and never did get the results advertised. I think my then coastal environment was simply too wet to move moisture out of the mass efficiently. Even with a lot of electricity pushing air and heat.

Back in drier climes, it might be tempting...
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:25 AM   #7
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We just spent 3 weeks traveling and we use a composting toilet. It takes about a month or so in our experience to fully compost. Once composted we use it in our garden, around trees etc. The bonus is that we don't have black water sloshing around and most important water when camping is a premium. Seems pretty "green" to me.
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Old 04-14-2021, 03:52 PM   #8
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The wife and I invested in a composting toilet about 5 years ago. We would absolutely never go back to the hassle, smell, and inconvenience of a black tank.
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Old 04-14-2021, 04:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter417 View Post
For those of you who are actually composting and burying your stuff, this is not for you. Seriously good job. I commend your effort.

I also think this is a free(ish) country and you should do what works for you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanster View Post
We just spent 3 weeks traveling and we use a composting toilet. It takes about a month or so in our experience to fully compost. Once composted we use it in our garden, around trees etc. The bonus is that we don't have black water sloshing around and most important water when camping is a premium. Seems pretty "green" to me.
My first sentence is for you guys. I really respect that.



Quote:
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The wife and I invested in a composting toilet about 5 years ago. We would absolutely never go back to the hassle, smell, and inconvenience of a black tank.
This post was mostly just to discuss how green or not green these can be. I definitely understand they work well for some people.

@richard5933
I am still researching but things are passing the sniff test so far. I will report my findings eventually.
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Old 04-14-2021, 07:00 PM   #10
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Don't forget the urine container has to be emptied too. It's not sanitary to water the grass with it. Or you can plumb the urine container to your black or grey tank and empty it to the sewer system as usual. The grey tank is just as nasty as the black tank and has to be emptied at a sewer connection.

We are much used to our publicly owned treatment works. They generally keep us healthy. We used to say the waste treatment plant has connections to all the high rollers in town. Some third world countries are not so fortunate and have seriously polluted rivers and such.

Flush toilets are wonderful things. And they use less water than they used to.

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Old 04-16-2021, 09:53 PM   #11
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Urine is normally just about sterile. The nitrogen in urine is a very valuable fertilizer and may be used in most plantings with no ill effects.
Human waste was used for many thousands of years as "night soil" for fertilizer.
The process of using gallons of water to dilute and transport waste to treatment facilities is very wasteful of a valuable resource...the water.
If properly composted the same bacteria that work in sewage plants will do the work of breaking down the compost waste to fertilizer, without all the toxic stuff mixed in that we all pour down the drain.
Of course one must be careful not to dump non-biodegradable stuff into a composting toilet.
I plan to install a compost toilet in my 1955 Safari which eliminates the blackwater tank. Grey water tanks will store water from kitchen sink, bath sink, and limited use shower until a proper disposal area is available.
I have some experience as a campground inspector and have seen some really dreadful blackwater disposal situations.
And yes, a composter must be dedicated!
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:00 AM   #12
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My primary desire to put a composting toilet in my trailer comes from hearing that people can use them literally for weeks, or in cases of only weekend trips, maybe a whole summer, before having to clean it out. That sounds pretty nice compared to being limited to a weekend before filling up the mini-black tank in the Caravel. Dumping into the Blue Boy in order to stay longer is a real exercise in nerves. And then the Blue Boy needs to be dumped. And there's no grey tank at all. But my longing for a solution to this is tempered by not wanting to modify the bathroom too much. As we get to where we would like to stay out for longer trips, this becomes more and more of a concern.

I haven't found the black tank maintenance to be too unpleasant, I just wish it was bigger so we could go longer between having to think about it.
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Old 04-17-2021, 11:23 AM   #13
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We often find ourselves dry camping where there are vault toilets. I always dump the urine container when we see one. Also Natures Head comes with a back up container both have screw tops.
We have 30 gallons of fresh water and 30 gallons of grey. No black in our 67 Caravel. No issues no odors and since our return from a 3 week trip I have yet to empty the solid bucket. I will let it compost for another month then use it around a few trees.
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Old 04-18-2021, 10:25 AM   #14
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Has anybody installed a composting toilet in one of the smaller wet bath models? Specifically, I'm looking at a 16' Basecamp.
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Old 04-19-2021, 11:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
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We often find ourselves dry camping where there are vault toilets. I always dump the urine container when we see one. Also Natures Head comes with a back up container both have screw tops.
We have 30 gallons of fresh water and 30 gallons of grey. No black in our 67 Caravel. No issues no odors and since our return from a 3 week trip I have yet to empty the solid bucket. I will let it compost for another month then use it around a few trees.
Just curious, where did you squeeze in a 30g grey tank? That is another difficulty with ours. There are places now, particularly HipCamp, Boondockers, Harvest Host, etc that frown on 'blue boys' and that's our only grey storage right now.

Could you share a pic of the composting toilet in your Caravel?
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Old 04-19-2021, 02:48 PM   #16
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Just curious, where did you squeeze in a 30g grey tank? That is another difficulty with ours. There are places now, particularly HipCamp, Boondockers, Harvest Host, etc that frown on 'blue boys' and that's our only grey storage right now.

Could you share a pic of the composting toilet in your Caravel?
It is pretty easy to get a tank for the sinks under the bathroom sink. Come on over to the caravel section. There are several good ideas.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f137/
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Old 04-19-2021, 04:24 PM   #17
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It is pretty easy to get a tank for the sinks under the bathroom sink. Come on over to the caravel section. There are several good ideas.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f137/
Thanks, I have a few posts in there myself. I'll have to sit down and scroll through some ofthe longer threads. Luckily after the big overhaul in '04 my Caravel has been pretty low maintenance. But as we get closer to retirement and longer trips, some of these upgrades are becoming more relevant.
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Old 04-21-2021, 09:47 AM   #18
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Most green things aren't green in reality but that's another deal, then again this should be a whole other thread.
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Old 04-21-2021, 10:29 AM   #19
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Most green things aren't green in reality but that's another deal, then again this should be a whole other thread.
I hope you start that thread. I would love to participate. Tag me in it if you do.
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Old 04-21-2021, 11:34 AM   #20
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Composting Poop's The Game

As a retireded chemist with turd hurding experience going to say I love my Airhead like the one pictured in the OP's post.
The first time the potty was dumped the contents looked like mulch, was shocked to say the least.
Mine is used in a Promaster where space is a premium.
Use resuspended coconut hull, spagnum moss and the enzyme stuff for rv black tanks in a spray bottle. Pee is separated, of course.
Dump most of the contents when cranking gets a little difficult, leaving enough of the good bacteria to start the digestion again.
Bugs means that something is out of balance. A few more squirts of the enzyme killed them off, that and mixing thoroughly. Some freak out with insects, oh my.
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