|Composting Toilets Help You Take Recycling to a New Level|
|Monday, 24 May 2010 00:00 | Written by Aaron Lada, Ph.D. | Article|
After flushing their toilets, most people prefer to ignore what happens next. Yet there are significant environmental issues with standard toilets including transporting waste to a central processing area, the leaking of raw sewage into water sources and the amount of water needed to flush them. Composting toilets offer solutions to these concerns, and—if installed and maintained properly—can minimize the negative impact of human waste on the environment.
How They Work
Once in the composting chamber, waste is broken down aerobically by bacteria, fungi or even worms. Critical to the composting process, aerobic breakdown requires oxygen and produces carbon dioxide and water vapor as byproducts. Without oxygen, anaerobic breakdown takes over, producing foul-smelling methane gas. To insure aerobic conditions, ventilation systems bring in oxygen and also create suction into the chamber, preventing odors from escaping.
Additional accessories may include mixing blades to further introduce oxygen, and a heater to maintain the optimum temperature for the microorganisms. Some models require the regular addition of peat moss or sawdust to prevent compacting, while others are capable of accepting food scraps, grass clippings and leaves.
No Worry of Pathogens
After composting is complete, the volume of the waste is reduced by 70-90% and converted into a dry, soil-like product called humus which has no foul odor, and in many areas can be used as fertilizer in lawns and gardens. Small systems require emptying the humus every two or three months, larger systems every six months to a year.
Batch vs. Continuous
The Additional Poop
For those willing to give some attention to their waste, composting toilets present an environmentally friendly alternative to standard systems. In addition, if the end product is used as fertilizer, people can recycle resources back into their own immediate ecosystems. As the human population continues to grow, it will become essential to think about what most prefer to ignore in order to develop practical ways to reduce our environmental impact.
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