I am on New Zealand’s glorious South Island, in a small town cozied up to the western border of Abel Tasman National Park, with a first class view of Golden Bay, relaxing in front of a fire built by my guy, snuggled in an overstuffed arm chair in the lounge of an eco lodge hand crafted by the owners, and I am going to write about the toilets.
You won’t find any porcelain bowls here. These babies are composting toilets. Now, I have done a lot of camping. The roughing it kind, often where I had to dig my own hole and squat. We had a toilet paper joke in our family, whenever we walked past a bush or tree with particularly large leaves someone would call out, ‘That there is great bum wad!’
TMI? What were you expecting with a title that contains the words obsession and toilet?
These thrones are a far cry from the shallow holes hastily dug with twigs from my past. Granted, when I first lifted that lid and saw the great gapping maw of darkness framed by a deceivingly conventional toilet seat, the mini Royal Highness in me flinched. That is a rather sinister space to be suspending sensitive body parts. So, naturally, I went looking for a flashlight.
I was surprised to find a heap of what looked like rich garden soil, and not even a wiff of excreta to be detected. Even after a fresh contribution, not a single nose hair twitched. How often can you say that about a recently vacated, modern water closet? Where skid marks and that unmistakable odour generated by healthy human intestinal flora reign supreme?
My mind reels and my imagination takes over. No last minute scrubbing as guests are arriving, no more discussions about whether lids should be left up or down, no more noxious sprays that have fields of wildflowers depicted on the label but deliver a mist of disappointing chemical concoctions I desperately dodge, hoping I was fast enough that none landed on me.
The Inn owners have listed a few, more environmentally practical, advantages to choosing composting over flush:
- a savings of up to 40% total domestic water consumption
- no need for expensive sewage facilities
- no ground water contamination nor release of nutrients into the ocean
- a beneficial end product instead of a toxic sludge
After a year of microbiotic action the compost is safe to use. Sweet smelling and hygienic, it is then spread around trees. Folks, my poop is going to be used to make trees happy. How freakin’ cool is that?