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Tania’s Compost Toilet Tour

Whilst we were at Elisabeth Fekonia’s Cheese-making DVD launch we started chatting with Tania Coppel a great supporter of Permaculture Noosa who remarked that she was in the process of building a blue barrel composting toilet for her various WWOOFERS who help on her farm in return for food and shelter.

Now the man who was helping her build her toilet was Leonardo Bohn a young Brazilian who you may recognize as the guy taking the shower in Geoff Lawton’s Soil DVD Trailer.

Leonardo was in the process of finishing off the floor of her composting toilet and we were invited to take a few video shots if we were interested in seeing how it was made. I was keen to see her toilet as she used the ubiquitous blue barrel system plus an assortment of recycled bits and pieces.

The walls were lined with bamboo from her forest. I knew very little about Compost toilets and how they function and wanted to learn more. Now if you know Aquaponics you will know that blue barrel are often used as the grow-bed troughs for DIY systems. Here was Tania telling us how she now used the same barrels for a totally different purpose.

“My toilet is nothing special really.” said Tania “The one you need to see is Avide’s system, a guy who lives over the hill from me.”

Tania hadn’t seen it but small town gossip was rife about his famous loo with a view.

“His compost toilet is the Rolls-Royce of Dunny’s. He’s painted it with Red walls. I’m told it looks luxuriant.” she said. “I will contact him for a tour on Thursday.”

I was intrigued.

The next day Tania rang to say Avide insisted we come after 2pm as the sun will be shining at the right spot in his rain-forest setting to illuminate his toilet at just the right angle and give it another worldly glow of regal splendour.

Was I up to it? Sure. Why not. So with camera loaded and Tania primed – I suggested that she also explain all the details – which she delighted to share with us all.

Composting Toilet Tips

  • One of the interesting points not mentioned in the video, is the usage of recycled computer fans. They make great air ventilation fans to draw bad smells away from the toilet bowl. They draw very little power and are ideal for this purpose. Tania was investigating solar panels to make them work for free.
  • Try not to use sawdust. Apparently it doesn’t work so well in breaking down the solids. A good handful of dry leaves thrown into the barrel after each visit to the toilet is much better and helps eliminate any bad smells.
  • Placing some drainage gravel at the base of each barrel also helps get rid of any fluids keeping the solids dry. Tania was thinking of using a pipe to directly fertilize her garden swale with it.
  • [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJgQyG_-pJg&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]