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How to Build a Compost Toilet Part 1…

There are two items conspicuously absent from our off-grid house, a cooker, because we eat almost entirely raw food, and a loo, because it’s, well, outside…

The modern norm of flush toilets that scoot our “waste” away down underground pipes to some municipal cesspit, sewage treatment centre, or worse, a nearby river or the sea, is one of those unquestioned “conveniences” that mark the insanity of the industrialized world. The concept of waste does not exist in nature. One organism’s excrement is another’s food. Humans only create waste because we insist on ignoring the natural systems on which we depend. Far from being “waste”, our crap, when allowed to compost with natural organic material transmutes over time into odourless, crumbly humanure, an organic material rich in soil nutrients. The veggies and fruit trees will love it! So as desertification scours the globe and topsoil dries up and blows away in ever increasing quantities, we are doing our bit here on the Quinta to pay it forward and give it all back to the earth, following the human nutrient cycle as it was always meant to be…Eat, Excrete, Compost, Grow…As opposed to the broken dysfunctional non-cycle that is maiming our planet…Chemical Fertilizer, Grow, Eat, Discard, Waste and Pollution…

Thanks to help from eco master builder Danny Law, we now have a half complete compost loo perched over one of our terraces. We will be finishing the job in a few weeks when Danny returns with his girlfriend Ana. We are very happy they have fallen in love with the Benfeita area of Central Portugal during their stay with us as they are now looking for a ruin to renovate with a patch of land so they have a base amongst the growing community of likeminded souls here.


Danny’s enthusiasm for creating an attractive and functional design was evident through as he hammered and sawed away on bits of old wood that we had collected from the ruins on the quinta. Acting as apprentice eco builder assistant I was eyeing his technique and gleaning a few very helpful, and sometimes humbling tips, like how to use a saw properly for example! We were slowed down a bit by rainy weather and the fact that we had so little power we could barely charge the drill, but determination and the fact that our temporary toilet hole in the ground was rapidly filling up, kept us going…


With the floor and seating arrangements secured over the humanure chamber below, we fastened down the seats and surveyed the view with satisfaction…


The roof design evolved into a funky 3 piece corrugated iron affair with a nice light enhancing feature in the stairwell…


Screwing down the roof was a tricky procedure…


Winter has been a bit of a compost loo rite of passage as we haven’t got the walls on yet! It’s been very windy so the temporary netting and bamboo surround have been constantly blowing off, so when I go for a poop I usually take some string with me now to do any needed repairs. I think once we have the whole thing done, complete with plants, some magazines, and a window so we can gaze across the valley while making our donation, it will be a very nice spot indeed. Watch this space!




  1. sophie says:

    looks brilliant! well done xx

  2. […] Original post from the awakened life project. […]

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