Back in 2011 I wrote ‘Ode to an Eco-Loo‘ after my encounter with the beatific experience of natural relief at Axladitsa-Avatakia in Greece. Wise by now in the ways of synchronicitous manifestation, I was not surprised, on my return to Belgium, to discover our very own eco-loo in construction at the bottom of the kitchen garden, thanks to the labours of Toon, Ria’s youngest son, who had lit on the idea that this would be a perfect birthday present for his mum.
Since then, we have been through quite a few months where this precious facility was the only one available to us – the flushing toilet having been demolished in June. It must have been a bit of a chore, slogging out into the dark garden if taken short in the middle of the night, but you really can’t beat it for the view!
The other huge advantage, of course, is that a compost toilet harvests the precious product of all the labour we put into growing (and eating) our own food: humanure! Here, too, our system has evolved. For almost a year, we had a collection of yellow lidded buckets (what better way to recycle the chickenfeed containers?) proliferating discreetly under the quince tree next to the compost pit.
At the recent visit of our handyman friend Mark, Ria put him to work to build us a proper ‘digestion box’, where we could leave all this goodness to break down into beautiful compost for our fruit trees. The result was a sturdy, tidy system made of re-used wood, into which Ria decanted the buckets, all mixed with straw scythed from between the swales:
But, hey, winter is coming, and Chris and Ria have moved upstairs to the refurbished attic. Time to bring our inventiveness indoors. Enter Martin, master woodworker extraordinaire, who, once he understood our desiderata, came up with the following delightful prototype to house the ubiquitous yellow bucket.
Amazing as it might seem, this delightful little piece of furniture is as odourless as its outdoor cousin. It goes without saying that this simple technology – along with the attendant practice of re-using materials that would otherwise be thrown into the dump as rubbish – offers numerous advantages:
- it costs a lot less (in financial and ecological footprint terms) than buying a toilet and paying the water bill
- it means all the contents of the rainwater reservoir can be used to water the garden – useful in times of drought
- it provides a form of exercise (regularly carrying weights downstairs) that people pay a fortune to do in a gym
- it enriches the soil, nourishes the plants and brings forth higher yields for the future
- relating to our excrement in this practical way helps reconnect us back to our animal nature as an integral part of Earth’s ecosystem.