Stop The Five Gallon Flush: A 40 Year Old Guide To Alternative Toilets

© Minimum Cost Housing Group

Witold Rybczynski notes that "since running water supply is in short supply in third world countries, never mind adequate sewage treatment, the conventional flush toilet is not an option—a waterless toilet makes sense." -which is why I thought that the winning design for Gates Foundation "reinventing the toilet" project was so silly.

Rybczynski shows the very clever Gopuri:

Designed by Appasheb Patwardan in India in the 1940s, takes advantage of a special characteristic of human excreta: feces transmit pathogens, but urine is sterile. The Gopuri separates solid and liquid waste, which occurs naturally in a squatting position. A handful of ashes is sprinkled over the waste after each use. The toilet consists of two vaults. When one is full, it is sealed up, and the adjoining vault is emptied and put into use. The contents decompose anaerobically; the holding period is typically 3-6 months. The urine is disposed of immediately; the compost is used in agriculture.

© Minimum Cost Housing Group

He also links to an amazing book, Stop the Five Gallon Flush, "the classic 1973 guide from McGill University’s Minimum Cost Housing Group", edited by a certain Witold Rybczynski. It is a wonderful resource; surprisingly, very little has changed in almost 40 years.

Tags: Bathrooms | Composting Toilets | India

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