How a Prosumer can Save the World with a Sawdust Toilet!

From John's Book "The 7 Pillars of The Frugal Prosumer"

The sawdust toilet is an example of how a Frugal Prosumer solves a multitude of issues with one simple solution. Even if it is not practical to make use of this idea in your everyday life, there may be some place it could be of practical use to you. I.e. Camping, big gathering instead of the unappealing port-a-potty, emergency sanitation, or just to impress your friends on how you take recycling to an extreme.

The sawdust toilet addresses a number of major world problems such as:
Sawdust toilet in my shop with bucket of clean sawdust next to it
  • Water shortages.
  • Water pollution.
  • Famine.
  • Poor sanitation (a major cause of sickness in the world.)
  • Using expensive chemically based fertilizers.
  • The cost of huge, expensive, and complicated sewage infrastructure.
  • Being prepared in case of disaster or breakdown of civilization.
  • Global warming, global cooling, and anything in between.
The Problem
The lack of clean water, sanitation, and food lead to much of the sickness, disease and suffering in this world. Once one understands the following amazingly-simple solution that is available to the people of the world, some of these world problems can be solved. Here are some facts:
  • What we call water “pollution” translates to over-fertilization from sewage. This over fertilization promotes the growth of algae in the water which eventually leads to putrified water and killing of aquatic life.
  • Urine is sterile and has a high content of nitrogen (an important ingredient in fertilizer).
  • Waste products such as sawdust, dead leaves, and paper are carbon products. Carbon added to urine (nitrogen) neutralizes the smell. This combination forms compost (an excellent plant-growing medium).
  • Recycling body waste is a major way to stop polluting our lakes and rivers. It saves thousands of gallons of purified drinking water from being transported to your house to flush down a cup of urine. Then this water is returned through miles of expensive infrastructure to get cleaned up again.
  • Body waste is a free fertilizer. It has been used for thousands of years by many cultures in food production. With proper processing you have a sanitary product.
 The Solution:

1st step: Make the necessary mental adjustment.
It’s not really as bad as it smells sounds. We have been raised in a society that is so wealthy that we can afford to just dump and forget. We spend our time recycling things that barely make an impact on the world. Butt we’re literally sitting on the low-tech low-cost solution to major world problems.

2nd Step: Use a sawdust toilet. Here’s how to do it!
You need a 5 gallon bucket, a toilet seat, and a frame to hold the toilet seat over the bucket. This set up can be very classy or as simple as you choose. After each use throw in a cup or so of sawdust to cover everything. There is no smell if this is done right. When it starts to get full, take it out and compost it in a compost pile. Compost it for a year and ta-da you have a wonderful good plant-growing medium. Composting kills harmful bacteria. If you are uncomfortable with using this compost on the veggie garden, you can use it on your fruit trees or any plants you’re not going to eat. Maybe the first baby step could be to compost only your urine which is sterile. I’ll let you figure out how this is done.

Sawdust  potty chair, Much less stinky. Old shop vac used to store clean sawdust.

In one fell swoop of recycling you have helped solve a number of major world problems. You have:
  • Recycled waste that was a source of pollution and made it an asset instead of a liability.
  • Become a major water conservationist by not polluting thousands of gallons of water.
  • Reduced dependency on expensive chemical garden fertilizers.
  • Improved the condition of the soil.
  • Implemented an inexpensive, environmentally-sound solution to recycling your sewage. You can also use it instead of your garbage disposal to recycle kitchen waste.
  • Not only that! You are prepared if natural or economic disaster shuts down our sewage and water infrastructure. No matter what happens, you have a healthy sanitary way to dispose of body and kitchen waste and a free way to fertilize your garden.
  • Greatly cut sewage treatment, pollution, and food production costs. And what is good for the pocketbook is usually good for the environment too.
We admit, this solution may not be practical everywhere. However, it is a very low tech and low cost procedure with a potential for a major impact. Start out slowly. Just use it as an extra toilet if lots of people are coming over? Take one with you camping or boating instead of those stinky portable potties. What about at a cabin instead of an outhouse? Have it ready and test for emergency conditions. It works in industrialized and poor nations. This is the way of The Frugal Prosumer.

Read The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, by Joseph Jenkins or go to the his web site at for more details on how this can be done.