Composting Toilets

At East Wind, we choose to honor the natural cycle of the Earth by composting our poo. We strive to maintain an ecologically sound lifestyle, so we choose not to contribute to the toxic sewage and sludge being released directly into our oceans and waterways on a daily basis. Instead, we return our poo to the Earth in a form that will provide nourishment and fertility, allowing us to enhance soil quality and live sustainably on our land. We seek to minimize waste by appreciating and utilizing all of our natural resources, including the resources created within our own bodies.

Every time a flush toilet is used, five gallons of clean water are contaminated and five gallons of sewage are created. This sewage is then chemically treated and released back into the environment, though it is often still polluted with excessive amounts of chlorine, nitrates, pharmaceutical drugs, industrial chemicals, detergents, etc. Per person, an estimated 13,000 gallons of fresh water is contaminated to move 165 gallons of bodily waste annually. In a community the size of East Wind (sixty people), this would result in approximately 663,000 gallons of sewage dumped into our waterways annually. Fortunately, we choose to make fertilizer instead.

The flush toilet system creates harmful pollution in more ways than one. As natural fertilizers are ignored, the demand for chemical fertilizers to maintain soil viability is high. These fertilizers result in agricultural runoff, another dangerous pollutant of our waterways. As the human race displays increasing disregard for the delicate balance of nature, we lessen the quality of life for ourselves and all living things. To quote Joseph Jenkins, author of The Humanure Handbook, “We find no waste in nature. One organism’s excrement is another’s food— it’s that simple. Everything is recycled through natural systems so waste doesn’t exist. Humans create waste because we insist on ignoring the natural systems that we are dependent upon.”

Our facilities include the North and South Fillmores, Lillipoop, and one public outhouse. There are seventeen individual composting toilets on the farm— eight are for public use and nine are located at personal shelters. Our two “Fillmores” (named after Millard Fillmore, the last U.S. president to go without indoor plumbing in the White House) are similar to your standard restrooms— reasonably clean, sinks with running water, toilet seats and all. Instead of flushing, you simply use a scoop of readily available peanut skins or sawdust to cover up your poo. Full buckets are replaced with empty ones on a daily basis. The buckets are collected in a cart by a comptoil worker who volunteers to do this job once per week, and the contents of the buckets are dumped in wooden bins in a yard located a reasonable distance from community proper and then covered with hay. The buckets are rinsed out and reused.

As these comptoil bins fill up, the contents break down and become rich, nutritious compost. Harmful pathogens and worms can survive in such an environment for a limited time, but most cannot survive longer than a few weeks and none can survive for longer than two years. The humanure created by community naturally enriches the land on which the bins are built, and after two years, the compost can be gathered and used to fertilize plants and trees elsewhere. Currently, we use humanure on our orchards, some medicinal herbs, flower gardens, and other plants. The observation of an old comptoil yard (in which some plants grow two to ten times the size of specimens of the same plant species found elsewhere in community) is a testament to the value of our own humanure.