I developed an open source composting / vermicomposting toilet design based on an ordinary flush toilet

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  • WendyHoward
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  • Biologist/ecologist/educator running a permaculture centre in Central Portugal. Came across vermicomposting/vermifiltration in waste management in 2013 and developed an open-source DIY system based on one pioneered by Anna Edey in the 1990s and using conventional flush toilets. Passionate about restoring life and health to the planet's ecosystems.
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Re: Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

Hi Elisabeth

Thanks for your response. I didn't know you had a section on vermicomposting toilets to be honest - I guess because it uses the words vermifilters/vermifiltration and it didn't occur to me to use those terms when I was trying to find my way around here.

Personally I wouldn't refer to this as vermifiltration because there is far more going on in that ecosystem than just filtration. It's a full aerobic cold composting process, especially if - as in mine/Anna Edey's systems - it's based on a wholly organic substrate. Which perhaps answers your question.

It's not just the worms but the entire bacterial community associated with them. In fact, the nitrate removal from the liquid component of the waste (which, according to Anna Edey's work, can take place in as short a throughput time as 10 minutes) is primarily a bacterial process. The worms' role relates far more to the solid waste. But they're also processing the organic substrate at the same time, which is very much part of any natural composting process which converts dead and decaying organic matter into soil.

This is why I posted my comment here. I see a lot of discussion of expensive commercial proprietary systems. To me, converting any conventional flush toilet system to one of these involves far more expense, unnecessary work, resource extraction, manufacturing processes, etc, etc, compared to what it takes to retrofit a DIY system based on recycled components from the industrial waste stream. Given the context to install a gravity-fed system, a setup like mine (or Anna's) is a no-brainer as far as I can see.

Let me be clear here. I don't come at this from a commercial angle. I don't think this planet - not to mention a large part of its human population - can afford that mentality any longer (one of the reasons I open-sourced my system).

It's just the permitting angle ... which is a whole different can of worms, if you'll excuse the pun. I'm working with my local municipality on that one. They currently give my system the nod if people specify "septic tank with drainage" in their building project proposals, but we're aiming to get a university involved to test the system and produce the requisite data for it to be permitted here in Portugal in its own right. The wheels of local government turn exceedingly slowly however. This will be a long process.

Ultimately it's up to you what you want to do with posts on your forum so I will happily accept your judgement on this. But at least now you have my reasoning.

I have posted on the History of vermifilter toilet and wikipedia article thread as you requested.
Quinta do Vale - Permaculturing in Portugal
Facebook - www.facebook.com/QtadoVale/
Websites - www.permaculturinginportugal.net/
www.vermicompostingtoilets.net/

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  • Elisabeth
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  • Freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager at GIZ and SuSanA secretariat, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
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Re: Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

Hi Wendy,
Welcome to the SuSanA Discussion Forum! I am just wondering if your post should be moved to the sub-category on "vermicomposting toilets" or if it's better that it stays where it is? Do we see "vermicomposting toilets" as a subset of composting toilets or as two distinctly different things?
You probably know that we have a sub-category on vermicomposting toilets here:
forum.susana.org/290-vermifilters-for-bl...ts-tiger-worm-toilet

Also, since you wrote about the historical developments, would you like to add that information into this thread which Dean has started?:
History of vermifilter toilet and wikipedia article
forum.susana.org/290-vermifilters-for-bl...nd-wikipedia-article
It could be useful to have it all in one place and there might also have been parallel developments in different parts of the world.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Freelance consultant on environmental and climate projects
Located in Ulm, Germany
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/elisabethvonmuench/

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  • WendyHoward
  • WendyHoward's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Biologist/ecologist/educator running a permaculture centre in Central Portugal. Came across vermicomposting/vermifiltration in waste management in 2013 and developed an open-source DIY system based on one pioneered by Anna Edey in the 1990s and using conventional flush toilets. Passionate about restoring life and health to the planet's ecosystems.
  • Posts: 17
  • Likes received: 4

Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

Comment by moderator: This post was originally in this thread:
"Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations please"

forum.susana.org/241-composting-toilets-...dations-please#25547
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For anyone who's interested ...

I developed an open source composting / vermicomposting toilet design based on an ordinary flush toilet. It's inspired by Anna Edey's vermicomposting flush toilet design which she constructed in the 1990s. It needs little more than DIY skills to install and the materials can mostly be sourced from the industrial waste stream. It can also be retrofitted to existing septic tank systems.

It's very cheap to install, requires no proprietary equipment, no input of energy and no special ventilation. It DOES produce compost, although it never needs emptying so it's a matter of choice whether you use it or not. It doesn't require urine separation, it doesn't smell and the only maintenance necessary is to top up with organic material from time to time.

In water-sensitive locations, it could conceivably be used with a dry toilet provided handwashing water were also directed through the tank (to dilute urine and maintain required moisture levels). All up for experimentation ...

Full details on the website , where there's also a forum for discussions/questions/experimentation reports, etc.
Quinta do Vale - Permaculturing in Portugal
Facebook - www.facebook.com/QtadoVale/
Websites - www.permaculturinginportugal.net/
www.vermicompostingtoilets.net/
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