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The Toilets at a Festival : cloacina

US sewers spill more than 850 billion gallons of raw sewage per year, greater than 40 times the volume of excrement that is their primary pollution hazard and reason for existence. We need a new plan for the US, not just a patch.

Our mission: To create low-energy open-source sanitation solutions based on the real transformation of waste into healthy soil. Our customers will be introduced to the most hygienic restroom experience while reducing their carbon footprint.

We composted 100 gallons of urine and feces from the toilets at an even in the Northwest this October. We collected 60 gallons of urine for later use as fertilizer by our fantastic local farmer. We also composted about 125 gallons of food waste.

To see more images from the event and development at our flickr page.

Our next iteration will have considerable changes to reduce cost and improve usability. The privacy screens (that had 3 toilets and one urinal) costs $134 each. The toilets costs $43 each with hardware and spending 8-10 per 55 gallon drum. The urinals cost a whopping $52 each, because of overpriced funnels. And the hand sinks cost a mere $5 including buying brand new bouncy balls for the valve.

Our technical goal is to use information to replace transportation expenses, allowing us to internalize the costs of treatment while presenting a price-competitive service when compared to chemical portable toilets.  We envision a business built around a portable composting system, so that processing is brought to the site of collection, rather than bringing our collections to a processing site.  This mobile processing system will be managed and monitored remotely using networked environmental sensors.  We began our process with a review of portable chemical toilet businesses and their internal expenses, wear on toilets, and processing fees, so that in our design process we remain conscious of costs.  

Our next step is to make full instructions so that you can make your own version of these open source designs. All materials will be Creative Commons licensed for easy reuse and accessible through our website. Open research means that all our work is shared openly and available through feedback, and 3rd-party data collection and replication is encouraged. We are maintaining a corresponding open archive of our technology through the Cloacina Project. Open research and ‘copy left’ technology licensing are crucial to the future success of ecological sanitation. Patents and proprietary systems disrupt the vital design feedback, user-led revisions, and community of practice necessary for ecological sanitation to succeed.

Super duper thanks to all our friends, family and volunteers for helping make this happen. Thanks to our awesome students Chelsea, Dave, Dustin, Emma, Halley, and Morgan for working their asses off to make this happen. Thanks to Carol and Jeff for helping us at every turn. Thanks to Martin, Lucciano, Collin, Alex, Lisa Anne, and Naga for lifting, hauling and checking toilets during the convergence.

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