Learning Center Composting Toilets

Composting toilets don’t use any of our most precious resource- water! Traditional flush toilets use between 1-7 gallons of water with every flush. This means that over 25% of household water goes, literally, down the toilet to either a septic system or wastewater treatment plant, both of which can impact the environment and utilize more energy and harsh chemicals to treat it.

Our learning center utilizes only composting toilets and a waterfree urinal, both of which help to conserve massive amounts of water. Seven Phoenix Composting Toilet Systems, Model 201, were installed by Conor Lally of Nutrient Networks of Southcoast MA and Ben Goldberg. They use no water or chemicals, only flaked (local) pine shavings to support breakdown and inhibit odor. An electric fan and vent pipe are located on each unit to pull fresh air into the tank and remove gases and odors, leaving this system completely odorless. These systems transform human waste into a rich, well-stabilized soil that will be buried in the forest (away from wetlands, crops and foot traffic) under 6” of dirt to further breakdown. In addition, the Sloan Waterfree Urinal WES-1000 helps us to further conserve water, up to 40,000 gallons per year, and does not require costly supply plumbing.

Farmhouse urine diverting composting toilet

Composting ToiletUnlike flush toilets, the urine diverting composting toilet doesn’t create “waste.” By actively composting and diverting urine, we (and all of the biological critters & decomposing microbes) hope to turn our “waste” into a fertilizer treasure trove of beautiful soil and liquid fertilizer that will eventually be put back on the land.

composting-toilet2Urine can be easily converted to a hygienic and nutrient-rich fertilizer. It is abundant in nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and trace minerals – nutrients plants need to survive. Pee-cycling is a way that we can divert urine away from the main sewage stream, allowing the nutrients to be recycled rather than treated as a waste product. After a period of extended storage (> 6 months) urine can (in theory) be spread as a natural fertilizer. However, the biggest unknown at this point is how to do this within the regulatory structure. Therefore, this still remains in a theoretical space, here at RTB, and we hope to spread it in the future but the future is not here yet.