Stinky Composting Toilet Suggestions

If you’re like us you invested in a composting toilet to save water. This toilet actually saves both fresh water and space for grey water if you’ve combined your RV black and grey tanks. Why on Earth would someone need to conserve water and keep urine in a plastic container and feces in a bucket to be turned several times a day!?! Well, to live for free (as in a couple to no dollars a day). In our case we do his often! Welcome to the full-time, when possible off grid RV Lifestyle.

We learned about this toilet from about four years ago and decided this was for us since we were also investing in solar panels and batteries to let us live without hook ups for extended periods. This toilet is actually a major reason we can live this way. The grey tank alone holds 35-45 gallons of water. That’s not enough for us to live for 2-3 weeks without needing a dump station since our fresh water tank holds 80 gallons. The solution was a composting toilet which freed up the black water tank (another 35-45 gallon tank) to be connected to the grey tank and provide plenty of grey water space. (Check YouTube for videos on how to do this; we did and Andrew found it to be simple and effective)

I love my toilet. We get to live how and where we want to. There are a few issues we’ve had though and here they are with the solutions that made the situations a touch to completely better.

First off, when it was windy and blowing in just the “wrong direction” we ended up smelling the air being vented from the compost (coconut coir and solids area) inside. This could be pretty unpleasant… One major time this was an issue was when driving! The vent didn’t face forward but straight down. The wind whipping by the end of the hose was enough to blow it back into the toilet and as a result into our RV home! Solution was to point the hose towards the back of the rig. This way as we traveled down the highway the wind was not forcing air back into the rig.

When we made this change we also extended the hose (through the cabinet under the living space) to reach from the passenger side to the driver side. This solved a second issue because our bathroom is on the passenger side. When sitting outside we are on the passenger side; that’s where the door and awning is after all. So the exhaust hose literally vented to where we were hanging out! Not pleasant. Now the hose vents to the driver side and that allows the smell to normally not affect us when we are outside.

Dryer sheet over vent hole.

Another issue related to venting is the strength of the fan. It’s not the most powerful and I find the compost to be most offensive after changing it out. For this reason we place a dryer sheet with a rubber band on the side without the fan to help keep the smells inside while allowing fresh air into the space to help the venting. This seriously cuts down on the odors in our home.

Finally, the urine buckets get some buildups on the sides that can be tricky to clean. We’ve tried the small stone shake, the dishwasher detergent soak, and honestly the best solution we’ve used is Goo Gone. A little bit of Good Gone with a little bit of water, give it a shake and let it soak turning the bucket so it soaks all the sides. Then dump and rinse. We don’t do this when needing to make use of pit toilets and whatnot as I don’t want to affect those so it’s a once every couple weeks thing we do when at an RV park to do laundry, empty grey tanks and get our fresh water before getting back out to a BLM or National Park.

So there you have a few examples of the toilet smell solutions, reality of RV living and the flexibility and creativity needed. Not everything about RV life is glamorous 😉

Furloughed/Unemployment

As many other people are still out and about on the front lines working, and others are working from home, others still are now furloughed/laid off. Andrew is now in the third category. The company he works for decided to keep a skeleton crew and the rest were furloughed for at least the next two months. For that time they will receive health benefits so that’s something positive and because the federal government passed a bill a couple weeks ago we will be receiving enough money to live on for a while. We are also lucky to have no symptoms of coronavirus so we have nothing but time. If you’re in a similar situation, maybe this post is worth reading.

Watching the clouds blow by.

For many, the idea of being laid off or furloughed is new and difficult. We’ve done all this before when we were younger and I have been without a full time job for 4 years so I have a couple suggestions😉 The first is to see this time alone at home as an opportunity!!

To begin with I suggest you look at your finances. Not to feel guilt over what you spent or didn’t save. Rather to make decisions to allow you to sustain in this situation as long as possible. For example, we had subscriptions last week to Amazon prime, Netflix, Audible, Pandora, etc. We decided that in this time of reduced income we would keep Amazon (it’s already paid up for this year) and Netflix (T-Mobile pays the majority of our subscription – a promotional deal when we switched carriers). We canceled all the rest. Maybe things will get back to “normal,” maybe they won’t and we will cancel the rest then. Take a look at your water and electricity bills, can you turn down your hot water tank? Can you shower less often now that you’re not seeing people? Can you open windows and live with warmer temperatures? Everyone is different and different solutions will make sense depending on your situation. I highly suggest doing this even if you’re still receiving your regular income. It’s a great way to build up a little savings and in some cases helps the environment at the same time.

Now that your finances are in order, or at least you have a plan and have done all you can, you can stop worrying about it. Take time to breathe, take walks outside if you can, if going outdoors is not an option take walks around your dining room table, do yoga/Qigong/stretches, meditate, take a nap, read a novel you’ve had on your shelf for a while, relisten to an audiobook, cook something you normally wouldn’t spend the time on, binge the Netflix shows you love. Do something that makes you feel better/happy/calm/good/joyful. Decide to take time for these activities you love everyday. Do them EVERYDAY. Allow yourself time to be unproductive everyday of not for entire days!!

Once you’ve spent a few days/weeks/months (no judgement, take the time you need) doing what makes you feel good you might want to start working on the projects around the house you never get to (or you might not). The leaky faucet or fan that doesn’t work quite right…. I bet you’ll find a video on YouTube to coach you through it! The windows you never bother to clean… Now might be the time to clean them so you can enjoy all the views from your quarantine space. Doing little things to repair and spruce up your space might help you feel better. Notice that there is no need to spend a lot of money or possibly any money to make small home improvements.

Renovation insulation
Renovation insulation and shiplap complete!

Purging could be another great project while quarantined. I like Marie Kondo’s book and use her methods ongoing in my RV. There are also YouTube videos and websites all about how to go about pairing down and organization. You could do a bit of research for yourself (don’t get too bogged down online trying to be perfect, there is no such thing) and see if there is a strategy or method that seems to fit your personality or needs. Or, just jump in by dumping your junk drawer/closet/craft box/etc and start sorting through it. I do suggest you have bags or boxes next to you as you do this for trash and donate.

No matter what you decide to do or not do in this time remember one thing. There is NO judgement. If you want to take naps or read non-stop, then do it. If you want to take walks or binge Netflix, then do it. If you want to be unproductive, super productive, lounge on the sofa, run, or bake until you run out of ingredients, do it knowing it’s what is in your best interest. I honestly have said for years that everyone deserves a few months to a year off from work a couple times in their lives. I have had nearly four years and it’s provided time for me to explore me. To see what I like, don’t like, and to enjoy my environment. It’s an opportunity to live without the clock demanding what you do, it’s an opportunity to make lists and have time to complete them, it’s an opportunity to have no list and decide moment by moment what you want to do through out the day. Take this as an opportunity!!! Even if your finances are not how you’d like them to be, even though you can’t visit your friends and family, this can be a time for you to do you.

Meditation in this time…

This is an unusual time in our lives. If you’re like most people you’re locked down in your home or on your property and that can feel stressful and uncomfortable. There are many kinds of meditation techniques which you can try in addition to sitting on a pillow (although this is a great meditation, too). I’ll share some of my favorites!

My first and favorite go to is dance!!!! Literally. Put on your favorite music and dance. Slow swaying movements, jamming to pop, air punching, randomly flinging your body around, you name it. DO IT! Set time aside to dance every day. Even one song can make your body and mind feel sooo much better. Get your blood flowing and your lungs working.

Now, as you dance each day your focus can change. Your focus on yourself IS the meditation. At first you might be doing dance moves you’re familiar with or have done before. As days go by let yourself move in ways that are unfamiliar, rather than “look cool,” focus on “feel good,” and provide sensations in your joints and muscles. Notice what the movements are that feel good. Notice how different parts of your body feel. Notice if your feet move, hips move, are you only standing? Are your hands touching the floor? Are your knees? This is the meditation aspect of movement and dance! Notice how your body feels. Notice how your body wants to move. Do that!

Try closing your eyes. Dance with your eyes closed. Notice how your movements change. How do your emotions change? What are your emotions like before dancing? During? When different music plays? When you move in certain ways? After?

Play and enjoy the privacy and space of the quarantine! Try it with without music. Try it in a room alone. Try it with your kids. Dance with your cat and dog. If you have outdoor space, dance inside and out. Build this as a meditation practice that will last you long after the quarantine is over.