Eco-toilet Summit

outhouseOver the weekend I attended Eco-Toilet Summit II in East Falmouth on Cape Cod.  Like many coastal communities with growing populations, the nutrients from their septic systems are wreaking havoc on the ecology of their local waters.  Water quality regulations are forcing them to take action.  

The use of flush toilets to remove human waste has become so pervasive in modern society that it is easy to forget that it is a relatively new practice.  Most people in the US are only a few generations removed from a plumbing-free lifestyle compete with an outhouse and hand-carried well water.

While flush toilets are an incredibly convenient way to take care of our waste, it is a wasteful process.  It consumes large quantities of water and degrades local waterways through nutrient loading. Given the ubiquity and convenience of flush toilets, alternative such as modern dry, composting toilets may seem exotic, but in our increasingly crowded, and resource limited world, they are an idea whose time has come.

The composting toilets shown at the summit were:

  • EcoTech Carousel Composting Toilet System – a four chambered, vented drum that rotates periodically allowing for batch composting.
  • Phoenix Composting Toilet by Advanced Composting Systems – a large capacity chamber that allows for the continual composting over long periods with the separation of new and treated wasted controlled with a series of shelves and baffles.
  • Clivus Multrum – A composting toilet similar to the Phoenix in concept but different in design.
The Pacto waterless toilet was also shown.  While not technically a composting toilet, it does not use water and has the advantage of being much less expensive and easier to install than the others.
These products are expensive when compared to modern flush toilets, but in when compared to the costs of building new sewage treatment systems in order to reduce nutrient loading in coastal communities, they are an extremely cost effective and environmentally friendly option.

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