Because my boyfriend and I are in the process of building an eco-friendly, allergy-free house (aka Freedom), with people working on site and all, we realised we needed a toilet for workers to be able to use. Mostly, on building sites you may see a portable toilet that looks somewhat like this:
But, if you have allergies or chemical sensitivities that are impacted on via chemical irritants known to be in many cleaning and ‘deodorising’ chemicals, then you may feel/smell/taste this toilet before you actually see it (In my case, I often taste smells before I actually smell them, which is a sign that I’m about to get very sick if I don’t practice chemical avoidance). When I realised we needed a portable toilet on our building site, I thought back to the one my daughter and I saw at the Melbourne Markets when we used to go there: it was leaking a puddle of electric-blue liquid out from underneath the box that housed it. I was olfactory blinded by the 3M mask protecting my airways, therefore, couldn’t smell the fragrance chemicals emanating out from it; ergo, gratefully, my daughter did, and, grabbing my elbow steered me clear of walking straight into a puddle of fragrance chemicals!
Then, a few months ago, Dan and I were looking at the outside of some new houses going up near our block, and as we walked down a vacant street towards one, a cloud of stink arrived on the wind, nearly knocking me for a six. What the hell was that? I took another whiff. Yep! The ‘scent’ of artificial rose stinging my eyes and burning my nostrils was actually fragrance! I pushed my mask to my face, hanging back a whole three house blocks, while Dan went to check out the new house and alert me to where the obnoxious chemical irritants were coming from. They were coming from a Portaloo!
After we got home, I mused on the fact that a portaloo is just like a modern-day gas chamber… for every race. It doesn’t discriminate: that shit will get into everyone’s airways! However, it’s up to their immune system as to whether it will cause a problem or not. But why would anyone risk that? Do the people who make, sell and rent these portable toilets even care that there are people who won’t be able to enter them; or that there are people who will use these, finding they get sick afterwards?
It’s actually law that we, here in Australia, have a portable toilet on any building site. Fair enough, can’t have people just whopping it it out just anywhere; can we? But what to do about the fragrance chemicals? Have one of those stink-bombs on the site of our home-to-be? I think not! I mean, what if I have to use the toilet? What if it leaks? And there’s fluorescent-pink, artificial-rose-scented puddles of fragrance-chemical irritants near or on the foundation of my future home?
Isn’t this what people with MCS have nightmares about?
So, later that night, before I went to sleep, I jumped onto the AESSRA member’s forum, and fired off my question: “Help! I need a non-stinky portable toilet for our building site!” While I sat back wondering if I’d just asked another stupid question—I mean surely there are no stupid questions when I’m not the only one with this dilemma?—I received a reply from a member stating that, yes, there is a company called Natural Event who supply chemical-free, odour-free toilets Australia wide (and in the UK, too (where they’re called Pootopia!)).
A little bit about Natural Event:
Natural Event has designed and operates the most effective, practical, enjoyable and appraised toilet system for festivals, events and gatherings where people poo. Natural Event was created after the organisers of the Festival of ‘Folk Rhythm and Life’, in Victoria Australia, came to understand that the toilet system they had created to cater for their three day festival, had national and international relevance.
These are not just ordinary toilets. It’s a composting toilet, yeah? This is our Natural Event composting toilet, right here:
So you go up those stairs, sit on that black box at the back, which has a toilet seat and lid purposely built into it, and you too can have your own natural event! Underneath the toilet seat, where all the pee and poo goes, is a bin full of wood-chips (it has no bottom, and has been dug into the ground so all the worms can come up, and any liquid can soak into the ground). Next to the toilet seat is another bucket of wood-chips; after all the poo and pee lands down the hole, you just throw a scoop or two of wood-chips over the top. The stuff then composts down into the soil. Pretty nifty, hey? Later, and we’ve not used it enough to do this, you change the bin so that there’s a fresh one to do all the business in.
More about this company and what they can do:
Natural Event can provide for any size need, from a single loo, to enough to suit an army! In the natural world there is no such thing as ‘waste’. All organisms degrade and have their intrinsic nutrients taken up by other life forms. Nature provides the ultimate example of recycling. Natural Event replicates the rain forest floor in recycling organic material and nutrients. By combining human toilet deposits with a carbon based bulking material and oxygen, Natural Event creates an environment where a previous environmental and health issue becomes magnificent soil conditioner…
They also supply toilets for the Glastonbury festival, and it’s a nice feeling to know my bum is associated with such a superb gathering of people [Think Kate Moss in her Hunter gum boots. Now think of my bum on the toilet. And know this: What Kate Moss did for Hunter gum boots, my bum will now do the same for Natural Event toilets!]:
Natural Event offers complete hire of cubicles and urinals and can also tailor design a system to suit particular conditions and various site requirements…. By using Natural Event, festivals make a clear statement that they have had enough of the ever dreaded port a loo. The days are over where you expect cramped stinking boxes or over flowing trucks. Now there is no need to use harmful chemicals to store or treat toilet waste.
And no, so far it’s not at all stinky like I imagined it would be!
Above is the side view of the Natural Event composting toilet. And as you can also see, our block is pretty much ready to go. I’m a little excited looking at it! If you look at the back fence, just over that is a National Park; the air comes straight off the sea. And it was just the other day I was sitting on our Natural Event composting toilet, and was thinking: Why can’t all toilets be out in the fresh air like this? But then a cold south westerly slapped the tarpaulin wall, and I acknowledged that I can’t bloody wait to use my real bathroom toilet!
So far, we are off to a great start! I’m feeling grateful for the assistance of others who’ve been able to share their tips such as where to get a non-toxic toilet from, and I feel especially thankful for my composting toilet. Thanks to Natural Event for the lovely dunny, too!
What do you think of composting toilets?