Part 3 of Grist’s special series on poop.
Laura Allen, a 33-year-old teacher from Oakland, California, has a famous toilet. To be honest, it’s actually a box, covered in decorative ceramic tiles, sitting on the cement floor of her bathroom like a throne. No pipes lead to or from it; instead, a bucket full of shavings from a local wood shop rests on the box next to the seat with a note instructing users to add a scoopful after making their “deposit.” Essentially an indoor outhouse, it’s a composting toilet, a sewerless system that Allen uses to collect her household’s excrement and transform it into a rich brown material known to fans as “humanure.”
Laura Allen’s famous composting toilet.Courtesy Nicolas Boullosa via FlickrAllen is a founding member of an activist group devoted to the end of sewage as we know it. Her toilet recently made an appearance in the Los Angeles Times — which might explain why she didn’t seem surprised when I emailed her out of the blue to ask if I could use it.
Lifting the seat, she showed me a seal of insulating foam tape she’d put around its edges to prevent o... Read more