I awoke at 5:00 a.m. under a bright-eyed waxing moon this morning, contemplating last weekend’s tiny open house at the Bayside Bungalow guest rental in Olympia, WA. Greeted with hugs from the indomitable builder/proprietress, Brittany Yunker, and tireless tiny maven, Dee Williams, I was immediately slapped with a ‘Team Tiny House’ nametag making me an honorary volunteer answering questions for the mix of curious, tentative, wonderstruck, and determined visitors. Sweet! Between questions, I slipped away to self-tour, snap pics and investigate the tiny systems at hand, which brings me to the next topic.
It’s one of the first great mysteries for anyone new to tiny houses--is there a toilet and how does that work? It is a fact: in order to live in a tiny house, one must deal with one’s doo-doo on both, the literal and metaphorical levels. Being with yourself and possibly a significant other and/or a pet or two (check out RowdyKittens.com for Tammy Strobel's excellent blog) in a small space requires it. Yes, a standard flush toilet can be incorporated and hooked up to septic. For a more mobile option, there are RV toilets that flush into storage tanks and can be driven to a dump station. However, storage tanks are expensive, and in this context, take up giant amounts of valuable ‘real estate’, displacing stuff you want/need with (to put it delicately) the stuff you don’t. So…
DISCLAIMER: the system I’m about to detail deals with human waste management. Disinterested parties may skip the next paragraph.
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I, myself, was new to composting toilets when I began planning my build, and, frankly, couldn’t fathom one in such a small space. Then, I met Brittany at the Seattle Tumbleweed workshop, where she spoke candidly about her system. Now, I’m a total convert and not a little envious, since I’m still operating with a liquid additive, RV camp toilet. (Honestly, I cannot recommend it.) In contrast, Brittany’s system combines a urine-diverting bucket system in the house with 50-gallon composting drums in a nearby chicken coup for curing. To be more specific, an ingenious little invention called the Separett diverts urine out with the gray water into a French drain. Separation of liquid from solid waste and an additional scoop of sawdust, pete or coconut husk poured over the solids in the bucket (in lieu of flushing) sweetens the pot (so to speak), while the toilet lid contains any remaining whiffs. A full bucket is taken to the chicken coup, dumped into a composting drum lined with wire mesh (for aeration), churned occasionally with a crank and covered with fiber cloth to prevent flies while permitting airflow. It takes a year to fill one drum and an additional year to cure, at which point the composted material can be distributed around ornamental plants, saving money on store-bought compost--cha-ching! I took many notes and pictures and will definitely incorporate this into my next tiny build.
Back to polite party conversation on the Isle, I’m headlong into an advertising campaign (see Tiny House for Sale, posted …….) with a life of its own. My post with tinyhouselistings.com has generated over 13,000 views (so far) and several inquiries, although, thankfully, not quite 13,000. Then, to my amazement, the MightyMicroHouse was picked up by tinyhouseblog.com, tinyhousenews.info, and tinyhouseswoon.com, the latter of which quipped, “a tiny house with a sufficient touch of swooneyness…” Another twist I could not have foreseen.
So, what’s next on the almighty TO-DO List?