Compost toilet competition: Our top 5 picks and reader's vote

Permaculture magazine
Monday, 10th October 2011

Far more awesome than the average WC, these compost loos have come out on top of all the entries to this most unusual competition. But we want to know which one is your favourite!

The following five loos have been carefully selected by the team at permaculture, scoring highly on prettiness, smelliness (or lack there of) and quality of humus (just kidding). So which of these fine latrines is worthy of a trophy and a voucher worth £50 to for a course at the Sustainability Centre? You can vote for your favourite at the bottom of the page, and also by heading over to permaculture magazine's facebook wall.

1. The Reclaimed Throne - Loveland Farm Campsite

These colourful beachhuts each house a Kernowrat compost loo/privey 500. They all sit on raised decking with a beautiful sea view of Hartland point. They also look onto a field where two Water Buffalo and Oxford and Sandy black pigs live. 

  •  In each beach hut there is a throne which is built from re-claimed oak from a local reclamation yard which has wood from old mills and dock yards.
  • Each throne was built by a local retired headmaster called George who also created the artwork that hangs inside.
  • There is a Queens throne for the ladies and a Kings throne for the men.
  • Matching sink cabinets, also built with re-claimed oak.
  • Urine and solids are kept separate, latrine-type odours disappear and the substantially reduced waste.
  • The urine is routed via a hose to the compost heap outside and used on the veg garden in front of the beach huts.
  • The solids are below in a pit under the decking. No saw dust in sight, only a bucket of top soil and straw/hay to help the breakdown process. 

You can test these beachside beauties for yourselves at the newly opened eco-campsite in Devon, Loveland Farm

2. On the John in the Jungle - Rancho Mastatal 

Rancho Mastatal has 5 composting toilets and a human feces powered biodigester that produces both fertilizer in the form of effluent and methane gas that they use to cook with. 

  • All of their structures are built using mostly local, natural materials such as stone, clay, bamboo, rice straw, wild grasses, limestone and wood 
  • They have utilized green building techniques such as cob, wattle and daub, lime plasters and washes and timberframing. 
  • They harvest tonnes of humanure every year, which get applied to the hundreds of fruit trees they have planted, inlcuding cacao, bananas, platanos, a breadfruit nut tree, araza and papaya 
  • Shower facilities to accompany 3 of the toilets
  • There is a laminated sheet entitled "Poopy Perfect" located in each of their composting toilets that explains their proper use. 
  • Sawdust is collected in their workshop and by local sawyer friends.
  • They have even started using the leaf of a plant, locally referred to as "Cana Brava" as an ecological toilet paper option. 
  • Beautiful mosaic sinks to wask your hands in with homemade soap from Rancho Mastatal

If you would like to test these toilets, head over to Rancho Mastatal's website for more information.

3. The Community Allotment Commode - Ambleside Road Allotments 

This toilet resides on the edge of a community allotment in Lancaster. The aim of the site is to provide opportunities for local people to grow food as well as showcasing best practice and ensuring sustainability. 

  • Rainwater is collected off the roof for hand-washing and also stored in big waterbutts round the back for watering nearby plots. 
  • Sawdust is collected from local joiners to mix with the waste to make good compost and keep it smelling sweet. 
  • There is a waterless urinal for man and boy wee which goes directly into a comfrey bed 
  • The rest of the waste is collected in wheelie bins and left to compost down nicely.  Drains from the wheelie bin lead directly into the comfrey bed to ensure the compost never gets too soggy. 
  • Disabled access and non slip flooring
  • Poetry and Van Gough prints were added to the walls by project staff to complete the user experience

Off the Ground is a project managed by LESS to promote food growing in the Lancaster District. 

4. From Pallets to Posh Privy - from a home in Ireland

When Ciaran O'Sullivan and his wife moved into his mobile home, he decided to renovate every room, including the toilet.

  • Made from scrap wood, inlcuding a pallet
  • You have a spruced up second-hand seat to sit on.
  • Urine separator design, imported from the U.K.
  • Fully ventilated - Shower extraction fan is piped down to the loo to suck out all the smells. All piping was second-hand, bought from Ciaran's plumber brother.
  • They cut their own wood for the woodburning stove and use the sawdust as a cover material.

5. The Luxurious Latrine that started it all - Monkton Wyld Court

As you probably know, this is the fine toilet that in the beginning, challenged the rest. We still love it so we have decided to include it in our top 5.

  • Locally sourced (1/4 mile) and cut larch construction.
  • Ever-warm seat from Kernowrat (no fair weather alfresco pooing here).
  • Harvested and filtered rain-water for hand washing which is reused to flush the urine pipe.
  • South-facing effluent flue which heats to carry odour away.
  • Wind-up light and radio (currently Radio 2 to keep things moving) at child height.
  • Flip-down step for little users.
  • Wheelie bin collection of poo which enjoys a short down-hill trip to the three bay/three year thermophilic composting chambers. 

This was also built as a product of a compost loo building course, keep an eye out on Monkton Wyld's website for more courses like this.

Who's got the best compost toilet?

Louise Hall |
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 21:18
I thought i'd write and tell you about the lovely compost loo i've built and been using for 3 years. I live in a rented permadwelling in suburbia in Leicester, my daughter and i made the toilet with scrap wood, an old 10 litre paint bucket and a skipped toilet seat. It sits in the bathroom next to the WC which i can't unplumb We use sawdust and coffee grounds (free from star*ucks) as a cover material. Following the Joseph Jenkins model both 1s and 2s go in rather than being separated, all goes on the compost heap, along with garden and kitchen waste and the whole thing makes great compost! I am happy to send photos if you wish!