I can attest that not all toilets are created equal. There have been three distinctly diverse toilet systems in my life. This little story is mainly about my different middle toilet. The first toilet was kind of boring and my last toilet is really spectacular.
When I met my husband, green was just a color. He lived in a house named, thumb“The Ecology House”. The idea of building a sustainable home was so forward-thinking at the time, that the house was highlighted in the book, 30 Energy-Efficient Houses, by Alex Wade. It was designed and built by a local man as an experiment. We called the house the A-Frame.
Living in the A-Frame was like living in a park full-time. My husband, his cat and I lived in this special house in the pre-kids years. We swam in the roaring creek that gushed over rocks just footsteps from our back door. We peered out the windows at the mountains, and hiked trails that zigzagged through the woods. The attributes that embraced the land surrounding the A-Frame were breathtaking.
There were a number of innovative energy-efficient properties that made the A-Frame a truly groundbreaking example of a green home. The passive solar house was built entirely on bedrock. No septic and no basement. This house was magnificent in its smallness and simplicity.
The toilet in the A-Frame was something I had never encountered. It was called the Clivus Multrum Composting Toilet System. It wasn’t one of those “hold your nose and go as fast as you can” toilets that you might find in an outhouse or porta-toilet. It worked very simply once you got used to not flushing. The one thing we stressed to everyone that visited our bathroom was that you had to leave the seat closed for it to do its composting magic.
“Composting is the breakdown of organic matter in the presence of aerobic organisms. This is the same process that happens wherever organic matter is exposed to oxygen and moisture: In forests, garden compost piles, lawns, etc. The composting toilet system allows human waste to break down into simple, stable compounds that have value as plant nutrients.”
These toilets have so many components of green living. They are low maintenance, conserve water and convert waste to reusable fertilizer. Most importantly, they have no odor and the air stays clean and fresh. Our Clivus, which we affectionately called it, was upstairs in a second story bathroom. Its tank was discreetly hidden downstairs behind the kitchen wall where the fertilizer was produced.
We lived harmoniously with our Clivus, until the day that we brought a new puppy into our home. In our excitement over our cuddly new family member, we had forgotten about the cat. We couldn’t find him. Frantically, we searched and found the cat perched over the Clivus with the concentration of an Olympic diver going for gold. He was so petrified of the dog that he was about to take the plunge. Someone had forgotten to close the seat!
We moved from the A-Frame to accommodate our growing family, and for many years had traditional water and energy zapping toilet systems
After the greening renovation of our bathrooms, my third toilet system was installed. I can attest that our dual-flush toilet is a true beauty. It meets our family’s needs, it appeals to my design sense, and makes the environmental nod our planet appreciates with a water savings of 67%. Did I mention there is also no possibility of losing a beloved pet?
Photo: Ted Fink