Nov. 21 - In the western world, thousands of gallons of water are flushed down the toilet every year - valuable water that could otherwise be used for drinking or growing food. But a Canadian company is trying to minimize that waste by producing waterless, composting lavatories that not only save water, but also producer fertilizer for the garden. Tara Cleary reports.
Valuable water, down the toilet. And every year we flush thousands of gallons away. A Canadian company, Sun-Mar, is hoping to alleviate some of that wastage, with their waterless, composting toilets. Sales manager, Fraser Sneddon says because they're so simple, the units can be installed anywhere a toilet is needed. SOUNDBITE: FRASER SNEDDON, SALES MANAGER, SUN-MAR, SAYING (English): "Conventional toilets are just transportation devices; they use a lot of water to move waste out of bathroom to somewhere else. They don't treat the waste. The composting toilets actually do that treating right inside the bathroom." Avid organic gardener Christine Cohen is one of Sun-Mar's converts. When she was turning her boathouse into a cottage, plumbing became an issue. Until her daughter recommended a composting toilet. SOUNDBITE: CHRISTINE COHEN, SUN-MAR COMPACT COMPOSTING TOILET OWNER , SAYING (English): "When she suggested a compost toilet my eyes lit up, because compost is the gold to the garden. You can use compost to basically benefit the garden instead of using chemicals, so that was a win-win for me." The toilet is simple to install and to use. Urine evaporates and solid waste is composted. Organic waste matter automatically breaks down, but Sneddon says Sun-Mar's system accelerates the process by 100 times, leaving disposable compost within two to three weeks. SOUNDBITE: FRASER SNEDDON, SALES MANAGER, SUN-MAR, SAYING (English): "We do that through use of peat moss mixture which adds organic carbon and also by rotation. These units have a large drum inside and what happens is, by rotating that drum you're getting everything thoroughly mixed kept evenly moist and well oxygenated." Cohen says another plus is that her toilet emits no noxious odors - that's thanks to ventilation through an external pipe. Cohen empties her toilet's composting tray about once a month, digging the fertile mixture into her garden. But she says not all her guests are receptive to the idea of such an unconventional lavatory. SOUNDBITE: CHRISTINE COHEN, SUN-MAR COMPACT COMPOSTING TOILET OWNER , SAYING (English): "Someone came in they were very, very upset about, so we gave them access to the house because they just refused to use it. And that just goes to show you where our current environment is, not everyone is open to this but I think by the end of the week, he did use it." The toilets sell for between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half thousand dollars - a small investment says Cohen, who believes wider use of the waterless, composting commode could be key to a greener planet and an attainable expression of self-sustainability.