What exactly is a composting toilet, and should I switch to one?

Want to live a more green lifestyle? This could be for you -- especially if you’re considering something like Van Life

Not a composting toilet, but it's a good reminder to always keep your toilet clean! (Pexels.)

If you’re like me, you’re always thinking of ways that you can live your life a little bit more “green.”

I’ve switched to using those stretchy reusable bowl coverings instead of plastic wrap, and beeswax sandwich bags instead of plastic baggies.

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But I always feel like I could be doing more.

Composting is something that I’ve been researching and thinking about trying out. It seems like it’s a simple way that I can try to eliminate food waste and turn it into rich soil. I found a local farm that will take composting scraps, so for the past few months, I’ve been saving veggie ends and egg shells so I can take them to be composted.

It wouldn’t be a few more months until I learned that there was another way you could compost, and it involves a toilet.

Apparently, composting toilets are a thing.

I learned this information after a friend told me she was thinking of buying a van and converting it into an apartment on wheels. I wanted to know more about #VanLife, as it’s called, so I watched some videos on YouTube.

While I was shocked just how incredible some people are -- turning a drab school bus into a five-star Airbnb, I was more intrigued that most people who live their lives on the road use a composting toilet instead of a toilet with running water.

I obviously became curious about how a composting toilet worked, who is using these, and how much they cost.

In many of the #VanLife tours I watched, the people talk about how easy it is to use a composting toilet, but also how inexpensive it is.

As I started to look into it more and more, I learned that it’s incredibly cheaper than having a toilet with running water.

If you live in a city, then it’s probably not ideal for you to have a composting toilet, but if you’re living on the road or in a remote location, it’s wildly more affordable than having a black tank in your vehicle or a septic system.

The Nature’s Head composting toilet, which I heard many people in the YouTube videos mention, goes for about $1,000 on Amazon.

While that might seem like a lot for just a toilet, the setup is beyond easy, and it’s a one-time cost. Emptying a septic tank or black tank costs money, and there are always going to be repairs.

The next step is learning how a composting toilet works.

My biggest concern was, wouldn’t the toilet just smell all the time -- since, you know, it’s just all right there?

But, according to the folks in the videos I watched, the smell is never an issue.

After tuning in for some more YouTube videos and reading a couple articles, I learned that the smells stay away because you are not mixing No. 1 and No. 2, if you get my drift. Your urine is stored and emptied in a separate container, therefore, that nasty sewage smell never happens.

As far as your other waste, that is stored in its own container that you will mix with with organic matter, such as peat moss, coconut fiber or even wood chips. There is a crank on the side of the toilet, so you can properly mix the waste so it will break down into compost.

And that’s basically it!

If you’re like me and you live in a home that already has plumbing, it would be a lot of work and money to switch over to a composting toilet, but if you live somewhere with a septic tank, or you’re thinking about hitting the road full-time, a composting toilet is the perfect solution.

Happy composting!

About the Author

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.

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