When starting a project like this, considering the amount of fuel that we would consume, it makes the word “transition” fade a bit. However, through lots of reading and thinking about life in a truck, we gradually got the idea that, besides fuel, our way of life was greener than the one in an apartment. We will be able to produce enough electricity for our needs. The hardest thing to imagine, when one is sedentary, living in the city, is that we will no longer live “with water”.
With the population concentration in the boroughs, a health issue arose. While in the countryside, on can do one’s needs in a corner without producing an enormous amount, the boroughs quickly found themselves with exceeding amounts of excrement. Do you know where the word cul-de-sac (which means dead end street in French) comes from? It was an open-air toilet. Do you know why hats and boots have become a dress code in major cities? The boilers, which contained the deeds of the night, were thrown out of the windows. Therefore, in the cities, excrements was very present. Sewages were later installed.
The sewer was a solution to the sanitary problems caused by excrements. Where a small amount of caca can follow a normal decomposition cycle and become compost, a bigger concentration can become poison and a soil contaminant. What is now called the sewerage, or “tout-à-égout” and “tout-à-l’eau” (both French expressions) is this modern phenomenon where we put a variety of things “in the water”. The food that you eat will eventually go there, with the medicines and the chemicals that we ingest. Many also use the toilet as a garbage can that makes everything disappear. The result being that our water is contaminated and needs to be chemically treated and decontaminated.
Dry toilets are a solution to this problem. You go in a bucket, where you mix brown with a dry product, such as sawdust, limestone, dirt, a mixture, to name a few. Then magic happens! Once your container is full, you simply put it in a compost bin and you let nature work. In a few months, you will have fertilizer for your plants, or mix it with soil and put it back in the ground. If the mixture is well done, there should be no smell. When you go to the toilet, there is a nauseating oder that intensify because it is in the water and ferments. Poop that was never in water, and is dry doesn’t smell. The only thing you need is to have the right amount for the mixture.
Having a dry toilet in the city is not the easiest. Everything is already installed to be connected to the sewers and not everybody has access to composters. The city legislations are not helping either, mostly being non –permissive. In short, it is not easy to use this system. In the communal garden where we were members, there was previously a dry toilet that had to be removed as a result of a neighbor’s complaint, stating that “it could have been dangerous for children who might fall in” … Since then, instead, a beautiful chemical toilet was installed, full of an obscure liquid. Also, we have to call a company to empty it, whereas before, it was simply going back to the earth ….
That’s why we made our own portable dry toilet, which will be placed in the truck! So yes, it’s not a necessity: you can always go to public places. Except we thought that, if we were forced to sleep in the city, it could always be practical. Either on the road or in the middle of nature, or if there is a storm, we will always be organized. This small piece of furniture is simple. When closed, it can be used as a bench. Once opened, it has a space to store sawdust and another compartment where a bucket is ready to welcome our gifts! We can go to the toilet, we can cover it with sawdust, and we can shut it close. Once full, we will find a place to make compost. We will no longer participate (or at least participate less) in the sewer system. We will have a smaller ecological footprint and we are very happy about it!
Also published on Medium.