An Urban Composting Toilet: It Doesn't Smell. Really. (Video)

an urban composting toilet photo

Image credit: Kirsten Dirksen/

Whether it is the low-tech humanure approach of the Loveable Loo, or more high-tech, high-cost compost toilet technology, one of the coolest things about toilets that don't use drinking water to flush away a precious resource is how quickly they can convert even relatively fecal-phobic individuals to the idea that old, well-treated poop doesn't have to smell, and it isn't dangerous. I remember my own introduction to well-built composting toilets while I was on a permaculture course—watching one of the farm hands empty the chamber on the outhouse. Despite being well-versed on the theory of composting human waste, I found myself inexplicably nervous about getting too close to the stuff. Yet once I got over my initial reluctance (I can't keep myself away from good compost for long), I was soon digging in to rich, crumbly compost that was as good as anything I had created in my backyard pile. I wouldn't exactly call it odor-free, but it was the odor of healthy, living and biologically diverse compost. It was the odor of life.

The video below contains a great example of someone else going through the same process. We start with a tour of the bathroom, and the composting chambers, before we finally get to see the photographer taking an up-close-and-personal view of the final product. "It's like earth", he says, and I'll be damned if I don't hear a tone of relief in his voice...

I should note that this is the same Oakland household belonging to Laura Allen that featured in Peak Moment TV's Pee and Poop Show, but this abbreviated tour is well worth a watch too.

More on Composting, Manure, and Human Bodily Waste
Composting Toilets: Ready for Prime Time?
Bio-Lux Composting Toilet: A New Throne for Your Home?
Joseph Jenkins Explains Humanure Composting
Is Recycling Our Poop Key to Sustainable Farming?
Is Male Pee Better than Female Pee? The Compost Conundrum.
Manure Runoff and Amish Farming Raising EPA's Ire
The Selective Flush: If it's Yellow, Let it Mellow

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