Monday, May 15, 2000

Composting Toilets Breathing New Life Into Wilderness Living
(ARA) - As life gets more crowded and hectic, many of us fantasize about "getting away from it all." For some people, that may mean escaping deep into the mountains, having a little getaway near the ocean, or perhaps a special spot in the woods near a small lake.

This dream is becoming a reality for many Americans, as evidenced by the rapid growth in sales of vacation homes. One of the more popular destinations is the countryside, where modern comforts such as being connected to sewer lines can sometimes be difficult to find.

To save money at your remote cabin, cottage or campsite, consider using an environmentally safe composting toilet instead of installing an expensive septic system. Peter Andersson, president of BioLet U.S.A., a company that has been specializing in biological toilets for almost 30 years, says interest in composting toilets has risen dramatically in recent years. This is due to the growing concern for the environment and water conservation, as well as the increased costs for conventional means of waste disposal.

A composting toilet looks similar to and is used in the same way as regular facilities. Instead of a septic system, it utilizes the natural processes of aerobic decomposition and evaporation to recycle human waste into an environmentally safe product. Vents to the outside allow for optimum air circulation throughout the toilet, thus accelerating the breakdown of waste. The excess moisture is evaporated and any odors are vented.

Since there is no need for water, sewer lines, electricity or septic system hook-up, a composting toilet definitely saves money. The natural decomposition process of a composting toilet reduces the volume of human waste and toilet paper by over 90%.

Remote sites aren't the only places that composting toilets can be useful. They can be installed as the primary toilet or back-up toilet in any residence. Guest houses and pool houses can also be made more comfortable for far less expense with a composting toilet.

Caroline Schwitzer originally bought a composting toilet for a barn on her rural Kansas property. The barn was beside a pond and built over bedrock, so not only would installing a septic system have been difficult, but Schwitzer didn't want to disturb the environment. The barn turned into a weekend getaway home. Schwitzer liked it so much she had it remodeled into her primary residence.

"I've had the composting toilet there for ten years and I've never had a problem. It works great," says Schwitzer.

BioLet offers five models, three that are electric and two that are non-electric, which vary in capacities. Andersson is optimistic that the affordability and options available in composting toilets will lead more people to discover the ease and savings of having an environmentally safe toilet.

"There's no reason to give up the comforts of home just because you're in the wilderness. Now you can have a little bit of civilization with you," says Andersson.

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