In a true permaculture setting, there is no such thing as waste and the same is true for bodily waste. Everything gets used. Keeping in mind that a BoonJon Garden is designed for managing organic waste as well as providing food, let’s look at the elements of the garden and the things that effect the design of your garden. It is important to remember the goal of your garden, which is to provide system for turning carbon based waste back into food and successfully managing the hazards associated with managing organic waste. It is an ongoing learning process. Aside from neighbors and local government, there are three major natural factors that will effect the design of your garden; local climate, the lay of the land, local fauna and flora.
There is something of a battle going on between the “bucket and chuck it” composting toilet crowd and the urine diverting composting toilet bunch. The bucket and chuck it followers see the urine diversion as an unnecessary step to what should be a simple process and they have a point in some respects. If you own a large piece of land with tons of compostable material so that you can create a composting mound large enough to create thermophilic composting through the winter and one that can absorb all the urine, then it could make sense to go the easier route. But the bucket and chuck it method can still be a nasty process. Sure, the toilet may not stink in your house, but when you empty it onto the composting mound it is a gloppy, stinky mess that must be washed out of the holding container. In addition, this requires the use of water to rinse out the container. This can sometimes be collected from rainwater as Jenkins system does but it still requires water which makes it less desirable in situations where water is scarce or composting material is scarce. But it is the best system in many circumstances.
I am occasionally approached by a customer that only wants to buy the urine diverting portion of the toilet. They may have an installation problem that prevents the use of the entire toilet. This seems to be common in sailboats under 40 feet and some Airstream travel trailers in particular. The Urine Diverter Assembly (UDA) is basically the urine funnel, housing lid, sealing lid and toilet seat portion of the C-Head toilet. It can also include the churning bucket and churn handle. Installation of the UDA does require some important and exact alignment with the urine capturing device. The urine capturing device can be as simple as a plastic jug or a complex as a reservoir for pumping the urine out to a holding tank or drain field if it is not a gravity feed plumbing system.
There aren’t a lot of blogs that dedicate themselves to topics about using a toilet. This one does. Here we talk $#!+ about a specific kind of toilet, commonly (and many believe erroneously) called a “composting” toilet. What does that actually mean – composting toilet? Well, I guess that is open to interpretation. But for our purposes, it is referring to a specific toilet, the C-Head, a compact toilet that initiates the composting process of solid human waste while the waste is inside the toilet. These types of toilets are finding their way into use more and more. The significance of that is that we are coming to appreciate and understand the efficiency, the advantages, the logic and the harmony with nature that composting of our waste engenders. I fully expect to see them grow in usage once people come to understand the advantages.
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There seems to be a lot of controversy over whether certain “composting toilets” are in fact composting toilets. Joe Jenkins addresses this question in his book “The Humanure Handbook” which is available for free (here). I have the highest respect for him for giving away (for the benefit of mankind), all his hard research on composting human waste. His book isn’t expensive and I encourage everyone to buy it outright (here) and give him the reward he is due. But to the point, he points out in it that the definition of what constitutes a “composting” toilet is basically in the eye of the beholder.
After experimenting with numerous mediums, it has become clear that the ideal medium (sawdust, peat moss, coco coir, etc.) for processing your waste into compost depends on how you plan on using your C-Head toilet. Boaters and RV owners are going to want something that stores easily and doesn’t take up space. They may also consider the ecological impact of disposing of the waste be it in the trash or in the woods. Homesteaders and permaculturists are more concerned with which mediums compost the fastest and best and are compatible with their gardening philosophy. The C-Head can accommodate a variety of mediums in processing solid waste.