Blog : Waste not, Want not

By sarah | Mar 28, 2011 | in

Nowadays, we take such things as municipal sewer and septic systems for granted when it comes to human waste disposal. But for thousands of years, many civilizations have made prodigious use of human waste as fertilizer for croplands. In fact, during medieval times, excrement was collected from members of the ruling class, because it was believed their larger intake of food would produce more effective fertilizer!

But the advent of modern toilets and advanced sewer systems, along with the knowledge that untreated human waste may contain harmful pathogens, have largely relegated the use of human waste as fertilizer to developing nations.

However, modern composting toilets, including those manufactured by Sun-Mar, have now broken into the mainstream. These new models provide consumers with a waterless, clean, safe, and environmentally-friendly way of handling human waste without needing a septic system, a sewer connection, or a complex waste-processing unit.

“Composting toilets have come a long way,” said Jim Bruneau, general manager of Dover-based Middleton Building Supply, who stocks several models of composting toilets. “These things are perfect for boats, campgrounds, cottages, and even homes or basement offices where it’s either not possible, or cost-prohibitive to add plumbing.”

Bruneau often finds himself reassuring customers that the latest models of composting toilets are far superior to their notions of glorified outhouses. “These composting toilets have no smell, and use no chemicals. As long as you have an electricity source, these toilets evaporate the water content of human waste and capture any odors,“ he exclaimed. “Plus, because they’re waterless, you’ll definitely avoid a big water bill.”

In addition to exceptional convenience, composting toilets produce a safe fertilizing for budding farmers and gardeners. “By using aerobic digestion, the composting toilets we carry produce fertilizer that’s full of nutrients and is great for your garden, but without pollutants.”

Above and beyond its uses for farming and gardening, composting toilets also offer another tremendous benefit to residents of eastern New England: reducing the amount of nitrogen that enter our ponds, rivers, and waterways, including New Hampshire’s Great Bay estuary region. 

“A lot of the problems our watersheds are experiencing come from unwanted nitrogen inputs, and a lot of that nitrogen is coming from leaching fields from septic systems,” commented Jack Bingham, owner of Dover-based Seacoast Energy Alternatives Solar Store, who also sells Sun-Mar composting toilets. “With composting toilets, you completely eliminate the human solid waste that generates that nitrogen.”

“Plus, septic systems are expensive to install and maintain, particularly on lake houses and cottages. A lot of those houses and septic systems were developed decades ago, and the septic systems are now dying. Composting toilets are not only better for the environment, they are way, way cheaper than fixing old septic systems,” proclaimed Bingham, who’s such a fan of the Sun-Mar composting toilets that he installed one in his own home.

“I think the environmental crowd will appreciate the green aspect of these toilets,” Bruneau concluded. “But everyone who needs a toilet can appreciate the convenience and cost-effectiveness of this product!”