Rewind 50 years in India… My father, who is 64 now says that he used to go in pit toilets dug by his father (my grand father)… A pit is actually linear.. about 5 feet long, 1 ft wide and 1 ft deep dug in the backyard. A temporary shelter would be put up around it for privacy. Every time after doing business, it would be covered with sand from a bucket. This would continue until the whole pit got filled (which usually took few days with a family of 8 children). In the mean time, my grand father would dig another pit and keep it ready for next use. This was the case in remote villages where my grand father used to work as head master, and his family used to accompany.
My grand mother is from Chennai and she had a different story to tell regarding their Toilets in Chennai. A toilet would have a separate entrance for the cleaners to empty with buckets from outside, since the sewage system was not in place in those days.
Unlike the modern days, where going to a toilet is as simple as pressing the flush button.. For several Indians going to Toilets was really a matter until 2-3 decades ago. Since they did not have Toilets at home they had to go to far off places in waste lands in early mornings. Most finished their business before the day started because of privacy reasons…. since it was not a good sight walking across the street holding a “lota” full of water after day began.
Coming to the present days… all waste matter goes to the sewage system, which either ends up in rivers (if your city is next to a river) or sea (if your city is next to the sea). If our city is next to the river, we may think it is the city that is downstream that suffers. Most of the times, we are also downstream to another city.. This way, we are also affected. Every time we cross a river to enter we city, we usually find a sewage canal instead of a river.. Similar case with sea aswell.. The waste pollutes the beaches where we take bath. Lets take a stroll of about 1-2 km from our popular beach and we will find brown water entering into the sea.
- Waste pollution into the sea
Is there any other option, we might ask… I say, there may be one depending on what on how serious we are about it.
I am currently living at International House at Auroville. Here we have “Compost Toilets”. The concept is to compost the “poo” matter and use it as organic matter which is a good manure. Once it is composted properly, it loses its smell and is a very fertile matter for the plants. Great idea, is n’t it..? Compost toilets if used with proper care (i.e. put saw dust on poo right after use and cover it well) do not smell. There may be a slight whiff for those sensitive noses… but considering that your poo does not go wasted, and that it is used in the most effective manner right in the beginning instead of polluting the water sources gives me the right incentive to enter the “Compost Toilet” with a smile..(Pictures of the compost toilet will be posted soon..).. Oh by the way, our urine also gets reused here. In the Toilets there is a separate place to collect urine which then goes through weed beds for processing, and then to the plants as organic fertiliser.
- Western style Compost Toilet At International House, Auroville
- Western style compost toilet for solid waste
- Western style compost toilet for liquid waste
- Saw dust used to cover solid waste
- Indian style compost toilet
If you are feeling yucky about solid and liquid waste being for plants, know that it is an organic fertilizer that plants relish and provide the best results. They will thank you for doing this to them. If you use Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides, they will not relish it – be sure about that. Would you love to eat fruits and drink juice every day, or would you like to eat vitamin tablets and drink vitamin drinks every day..? You know the answer…
So.. if you want to try out building a compost toilet in the backyard of your village or your second home bungalow, I say.. Go for it…
There are several options online for building compost toilets, or you can contact several establishments in Auroville who have pioneered this. Send me a message if you need help..