I’m Not a Hippy But… I’ve got a composting toilet!

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:


If this toilet has fragrance ‘deodorising’ chemicals, you may be better off going behind those trees

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?


About Natural Event 

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

I’m Not a Hippy But… Please Refrain from Wearing Deodorant

That’s my internal response to what I think other people might think of my question (and me) when I ask them to not wear deodorant. I mean, really, God knows what possible trillion thoughts a person could have when asked this question. But eternally, so far, my primary thought: what if they think I’m some dirty fucking hippy who wants to impose my perfect little how-the-world-should-be view onto them?


Hippie: Oh, I think we evolved from monkeys. And we should all live naturally, sit around and eat only bananas, shit under palm trees, and never use chemicals. My philosophy is my body-odour-is-natural, yeah?

Offended person: Someone pass me that .45, so I can shoot this dirty hippy, please. I think they might breach my human rights!


My point: Asking people not to wear deodorant is a delicate situation. Public Relation (PR) skills are needed. Sorry, let me rephrase that: asking people not to wear ‘spray-based deodorants that contain solvents, petrochemicals and fragrance’ is a delicate situation. It’s all in the wording. Semantics…

You see, it’s not the deodorant, it’s the chemicals.

Additionally, some people may become offended at the idea of their body odour being on olfactory display. And that’s understandable. I worked this out by attempting to undergo an x-ray where taking off my mask for 10-15 mins was needed. Due to being familiar with, and understanding, my medical condition, the receptionist was happy to ask the technical nurse to not wear any deodorant on the day of my appointment, and we made it the first appointment of the day to make it easier on everyone; however, the nurse refused to comply. She said it just wasn’t possible: for personal reasons.

The x-ray needed was a scan where they put your head in a machine that whirs its way around you, taking layered images of the bone density in the jaw and face area. This was for an operation I was about to have (eight years ago… Implant teeth). It was in the x-ray lab that my surgeon used. Before asking for another lab somewhere else, I tried to work the situation out over the phone with the techy nurse.

How could she think that her right to wear chemicals trumped my right to breathe without getting sick? It turned out both our issues were on par, or thereabouts: hers was a chronic thyroid issue where she couldn’t stop sweating. A lot. And mine; well, you know… inhalant allergies to chemical irritants, aka MCS!

The conversation started out okay: “You want me to go without wearing deodorant?” she said sounding freaked out. She carried paper towels around with her, and continually applied an aluminium based spray deodorant to help with her glands’ profuse sweating. “If I don’t do this, then I could get sweat on my patients when touching them, or leaning over them to adjust settings on the machine,” she said. “It even comes out the palms of my hands.”

Even though I wasn’t about to back down and just ‘cop’ symptoms of my own, I felt truly awful. This woman was obviously suffering. She was dealing with her own symptoms at work, the best she could.

But worse, now she was made to feel apprehensive over a threatening situation she was trying to control that was threatening to veer out of control.

Because of my condition where my airways, sinuses and tear ducts become inflamed upon the inhalation of solvents, petrochemicals and fragrance, I was unable to accommodate this woman’s suffering. This was horrible…

“And then there’s the offensive odour,” she said near tears.

Lost for words, I twisted the telephone cord around my hand.

I didn’t want to put her through this. I apologised, asking if I could see someone else. Or find another lab that had the same machine. It seemed as if it were her turn to feel awful. She said that this situation just wasn’t good enough; she was a professional and needed to be able to do what her job demanded of her. She asked if I could tolerate a roll on deodorant. I wasn’t sure; it hadn’t occurred to me. (I’d had the condition near on 18 months at that stage, and had been living in isolation: my whole life had just stopped.) Petrochemicals, fragrance and solvents were the culprits that infiltrated my immune system, compromising it into releasing obscene amounts of histamine that caused a fuck-ruckus of symptoms. If the roll-on didn’t have these, in theory, it would be okay.

“So your fine with aluminium?” she asked brightly.

I thought about telling her about the uses I had for aluminium; the ones that failed (wrapping a polyurethane mattress, that, consequently, went mouldy) and the successes (lining the inside of new kitchen cabinets to halt the outgassing of formaldehyde into my rental-living space). Instead I said, “I use aluminium foil for many things.”

“If I buy a roll-on deodorant that has no fragrance or petrochemicals or solvents, you’ll be okay with it?”

“Oh, yes, thank you. So much. I really appreciate your help.”

And I did. However, I appreciated her enlightenment of a delicate situation even more so: it’s not always about ‘the right to wear chemicals into a public airspace’ verses ‘the right to breathe’ (although, often it is!). No, it’s about reaching a common ground where everyone feels comfortable when standing on it; somewhere were we are not forced to suffer symptoms while others unknowingly flout the right to inflict pain on us; a place where we all feel secure in our knowledge that other people respect all of our needs.

Because it works both ways.

So these days, I rephrase my question as:

“Would you mind not wearing spray-based deodorants that contain solvents, petrochemicals and fragrance?”

And, I always finish with:

“Roll-on deodorants that don’t’ contain solvents, petrochemicals and fragrance are fine.”

This covers my rights and theirs. I’m not telling them to not wear deodorant; and I’m not telling them what to wear. Cause they can always risk people thinking that they are just a dirty fucking hippy and wear nothing at all. Kind of like me, yes?

PS: I shower a lot. I’m off to have one now actually.

paw linxs and kid

You can find a list of fragrance free products here (For Australia), and here (for Canada). More lists coming soon. Please add your favourite fragrance free product to our Listly Lists. Or leave it in the comments below, and I’ll add it for you :)

Image source: RedKid

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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