“The typical American uses 13,000 gallons of water each year to remove a mere 165 gallons of body ‘waste.'”
“There are two kinds of people in the world, people who sh– in drinking water, and people who don’t.”
Today we are somewhat thrilled to finally order a composting toilet (saved $500 too!!!). Another small step towards our water and waste reclamation project to eliminate or reduce our water consumption.
We’ve been hankering to get one of these toilets for many years. Of course, it would have been cheaper and more satisfying to do what many other across the country are doing– building a simple (not to mention inexpensive) “diy sawdust toilet. ” This purchase was a hard decision to make and, believe me, we don’t like to part with such a hefty amount of money.
We decided against the sawdust toilet since we are in a unique situation. Others may be less constrained by space, code or “recognition.” Since our four compost drums and pile are in close proximity to a school, our produce business and clients to consider, and the City of Pasadena aware of our accomplishments, we felt it best to spend money for a whole system set up with composting chamber to break down the waste. However, we still feel the sawdust one toilet is the best and most efficient model. A model that we really should be striving for. Instead, we’ll save this diy project for another situation with more land (see Peace & Carrot’s Homestead’s sawdust toilet with humanure drums) improving on the typical out house that was used by my mother and father on their first homestead in New Zealand. (btw, in Florida we had our own well and septic system)
We chose the Envirolet model over its competitors because it has a highly efficient aeration chamber, which means you don’t have to add peat moss to the toilet every time you use the loo.
The Envirolet waterless toilet also comes with a small wind turbine which affixes to the top of the vent pipe on the roof and helps draw air constantly through the aeration chamber. This deftly prevents the unit from down-drafting and expelling odors.
Our first choice was Envirolet’s waterless, non-electrical model since we like to limit any unnecessary watts. With this non electrical toilet the liquid waste isn’t composted. It exits the unit through a small tube that runs outside and into a drain pit (basically a gravel-filled hole in the ground). Since we are installing the chamber in the cellar, we couldn’t just build this type of pit/drain system. Instead, we opted to buy the 120V AC power model, where a five gallon bucket can be used to drain the excessive liquid into and then the bucket will be emptied into our compost pile. It was a hard choice. We really didn’t want another electrical appliance but figured our solar panels will supply adequate power.
Back to the subject of using urine in the compost pile: Every day, we urinate nutrients that can fertilize plants. Instead, these nutrients are flushed away. Urine is the fastest acting, highest nitrogen portion of human waste. Adding this liquid to compost urine acts as an accelerator.
For those of you who are interested in buying an Envirolet now or in the future, you can save $50 by giving our name, ‘Path to Freedom,’ as a referral.
Out with the old, in with the new
Progress in the yard has been slow, but steady. All the sandy and rocky topsoil has been shoveled out into buckets, awaiting a time when we can rent a dumpster. In the meantime the soil fills every empty container we have in the driveway. Now that the “bad soil” is gone, the guys have been digging out the mulched driveway that has loads of “good dirt” underneath a layer of mulch. The mulch/dirt is about 1 foot deep in the driveway that measures 10 ft wide by 60 ft long, we are figuring we have about 600 cubic feet of soil! This equals 22 cubic yards of soil: that would be 400 1.5 cu bags from a nursery, or 3, 7 yard dump trucks. Monetarily speaking, the 1.5 cu bagged organic soil mix sell for about $5 a bag, that’s about $2000 worth of soil! Amazing.
For a few years now, after we took out the concrete in the driveway to keep the rainfall from running out into the street, the driveway has been a place where we have piled straw and tree trimmings (free from local tree services). Over time, these layers upon layers of mulch have composted into dark, black, rich soil filled with worms. What’s great is that there is no need for us to buy organic soil for this project – saving us lots of money if we had to do it otherwise. We have enough “good soil” made on the homestead
— for free! That’s a victory in itself to be able to have “produced” enough rich soil to use throughout the yard and raised beds on such a little property such as ours. No more relying on outside sources for soil.
BTW: the chickens and ducks are thrilled with our digging up the mulch/dirt since we are finding hundreds of juicy grubs — yum, yum!
Lighting without electricity
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Over these past few months, we’ve been taking steps to use less electricity. Changing certain habits is progress; one has to be serious, committed enough to incorporate any change however small. We can protest on the streets against this or that or we can protest by our actions – like the saying goes: “actions speak louder than words.” One step we have taken is to use more candles and oil lamps (that run on B100). It’s so much easier to flip on a switch when you need light, but we find candles and oil lamps are certainly much cozier! Every morning during this dark winter period we eat breakfast by candlelight and oil lamps.
When we do need to use the grid tied lights, we make sure that we never leave them on longer than needed, turning them off when we leave the room. In addition, all but two decorative light fixtures have been replaced with energy saving bulbs.