As a society we use vast amounts of clean water to flush loos with, treat the resultant waste, and generally speaking, dump the end product into the sea. Locals who have walked Ballyholme beach after a storm will know just how much fun this can be.
The answer? The composting loo. What you see above is (as far as I know) Northern Ireland’s first Treebog, which is basically a platform, over a couple of straw lined containers. Have a poo, chuck in a couple of handfulls of sawdust, and when the chamber begins to fill up (it takes a long time) use the other one, and let the first one compost down. Aerobic digestion kills the bacteria that cause smells, and what you end up with is compost that can be used around fruit trees and the like.
In use, it doesn’t smell, you don’t have to come face to face with anything unpleasant, and the only minor downside is that its a short walk from the house (although in the truck we have a mini version that is chemical free and gets emptied into the treebog from time to time).
The folks from Mourne Heritage Trust came along recently to have a look and get some tips, and I’m looking forward to seeing their version when they have completed it.
Any biodegradable waste from food, cardboard, paper etc that we have gets composted and goes on the vegetables, and we try to buy products that have minimal packaging so that as little as possible ends up going in our bin. Once recyclables are taken out, we hope to be able to get this down to almost nothing.
Waste water is something that I really want to be able to deal with in some way – everything from the truck goes into a tank, so there’s a clear sense of how much there is, and it gives the opportunity to clean it up and use it for some further use such as irrigating crops. Something that I’ll have to investigate.