Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

The famous and foreboding words, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,”  echo in my ears from a dozen movie funerals and probably almost as many real life funerals.  They hit at our core, because they focus our minds on the temporary nature of life.

But those words also speak to an inescapable truth.  Our bodies and everything they produce eventually returns to the ground.

Yes, I said, “Everything they produce.”  By that, I meant the waste your body produces. Scientists call it excrement. There are lots of other words for it, too.  But, I’m going to try to make it through this post without using any of them.

Unfortunately, what we do with that waste, excrement or whatever else you want to call it, doesn’t make any sense.

First, we flush our toilets with fresh, clean, pure water.  In the process, at least two and maybe as many as seven gallons per flush (on older toilets) are contaminated with E. coli and other dangerous germs.

Next (after the flush), we take our toilet waste, with its noxious load of bacteria, and mix it with water from our bathtubs and the kitchen sink. The sink water wasn’t nearly as dangerous or as dirty as toilet water when we started.  But, mixing the two together multiplies means they are both contaminated with germs and fecal matter.  It multiplies by many times the difficulty of safe disposal.

Our waterless composting toilets solve that problem by using the natural “dust to dust” process.  Instead of flushing it away, they compost it away.  Composting toilets take your excrement and return it to the earth from which it came before you ate it; before it became vegetables, fruit or meat.

However, there’s clearly a reason why people flush their waste instead of composting it.  Every time I talk to a customer about composting toilets, there’s a glimmer of fear lurking in the conversation.

“What if it doesn’t work?” they ask.

Well, it does work.  Smelly stuff goes in, no doubt about it.  But the toilets themselves have really no odor.  A small amount of ventilation carries away any composting smells and even helps remove any of the normal smells you get in any bathroom.

How can there be no odor?  Healthy composting never has a strong odor.  If you’ve smelled an unpleasant odor from compost before, it was likely because the material in the compost wasn’t compostable or there wasn’t enough air.

Excellent composting toilet design, engineered to work from the start and constantly improved over the years, helps make sure you have healthy, odor free compost action.  And, what you’re putting into your toilet is incredibly compostable.

We’ve sold hundreds of composting toilets over the years.  Complaints are few and far between.  The few complaints we do get are almost always from lack of maintenance.  Regular doses of composting material (such as peat moss or CompostSure) must be added.  A crank or lever on the outside of the toilet allows you a clean and sanitary way to agitate the contents of the toilet.  It is the combination of composting material, ventilation air moving constantly through the toilet and agitation is a sure-fire recipe.

A few years back, I talked to a couple who bought one of our first composting toilets.  They had used it as their only toilet for years.  When I asked them why they bought one instead of using conventional plumbing, they said it was because they bought their farm house from an Amish family, who never installed indoor plumbing.

The truth is, most people only consider using composting toilets when all else fails.  That’s why most of our customers are using them in remote cabins, rocky land where septic systems can’t be installed and in workshops and garages.

I asked them if it REALLY worked.  Oh yes, they said.  All you have to do is make sure to take care of the maintenance.  In a family setting, it works best if one person takes responsibility for it.  That way, you can be sure it gets done.

I asked them if it ever smelled.  They said the only smell they ever noticed was a musty smell.  Not very unpleasant…just a little musty.  They said they found the perfect medicine for that.

“Just add a little stale bread and agitate it!”


Galen Lehman
Galen Lehman, President, Lehman’s

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Noeleen Cleary
12 years ago

“If God doesn’t take you, the Devil must.” All kidding aside, great information. :)

Billybob Cornfed
Billybob Cornfed
12 years ago

I wonder if you have a used one? jk!

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