Last year, Tyler and I read The Humanure Handbook, a fantastically eye-opening book about how to safely compost your own waste and return it to the soil as fertilizer. The simple system this book describes uses sawdust toilets (a receptacle with a toilet seat on top, plus ample sawdust to to cover and prevent odors), which are emptied into a compost bin and covered with plenty of straw. The pile is allowed to sit for at least a year, and is then a nutrient-rich, safe, and free fertilizer to use on orchards and gardens.
That's the oversimplified gist of it, anyway.
As a result of our reading, our thoughts about poop and where it should go have radically changed. In fact, it now seems downright weird that we've never actually dealt with our own shit. The most sobering realization we've come to, though, is the fact that every time we use a flush toilet, we are taking perfectly clean water and transforming it into toxic waste.
The world is divided into two categories of people: those who shit in drinking water and those who don't. We in the western world are in the former class.Joseph Jenkins, The Humanure Handbook
When we moved into our little camper this past January, we knew we'd get our compost system going with a sawdust toilet. Our trailer's plumbing would quickly freeze in the winter if we didn't keep the heat running 24/7, and even if we did, the result would be pretty unappealing: routinely traveling to the campsite down the road to empty a tank full of a shit-and-urine slurry into their dumping station. Yuck.
And so, where any normal person would take a shower in our camper, we have a five-gallon bucket with a luggable loo toilet seat cover, and a bucket of sawdust on the side. As long as ample sawdust is used, our toilet isn't smelly at all. And considering that our bathroom is about two feet away from everything else in our little temporary home, that's a good thing.
Eventually, we'll build a nicer setup like this wooden commode, but in the meantime, our bucket is working fine. Now, on to the compost bins!