News

Lismore beats the crap out of Byron on compost toilets

Dr Leigh Davison and his wife Ellen built their home using every possible feature to minimise cost and maximise energy and water efficiency, including a composting toilet, grey water system, recycled building materials, solar panels and a micro hydro-electric generator wind turbine. As a senior lecturer in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering at Southern Cross University, Leigh has spread his passion for living sustainably to thousands of university students over his lecturing career.
Dr Leigh Davison and his wife Ellen built their home using every possible feature to minimise cost and maximise energy and water efficiency, including a composting toilet, grey water system, recycled building materials, solar panels and a micro hydro-electric generator wind turbine. As a senior lecturer in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering at Southern Cross University, Leigh has spread his passion for living sustainably to thousands of university students over his lecturing career.

DR LEIGH Davison and Garry Scott's working lives have been full of crap - and they wouldn't have it any other way.

Between them the pair's passion for treating number ones and twos as a resource instead of waste has seen them play a major role in the growth of compost toilets on the Northern Rivers - Leigh as an environmental academic and researcher at Southern Cross University and Garry as the founder of Compost Toilet Systems.

Their drive and work has played a significant role in Lismore being widely regarded as the compost toilet capital of Australia, ahead of Byron Shire.

"I don't want to poo-poo Byron but Lismore is ahead," confirmed Garry of Mullumbimby, who both installs compost toilets and is a consultant for householders building their own.

However, Garry said Byron council has been innovative by allowing dry compost toilets to be approved within the urban sewerage catchments at a considerably reduced sewage rate.

If you've never warmed the seat of a compost toilet, the biggest difference is you don't flush.

Instead, you place enough carbonaceous material like wood shavings or The Northern Star (after you've read it word-for-word, of course) down the bowl to cover the waste and provide the necessary conditions for the decomposition of the material by a wide variety of micro and macro organisms.

A compost toilet uses no water and treats the effluent on site in the toilet's chamber rather than externally at a wastewater treatment plant like conventional loos.

The waste is broken down to become a nutrient rich compost which you can use for fertiliser.

According to exponents of the cutting edge crappers, it is biologically wrong for waste to go in to water.

"The biological processes engaged in a compost toilet are those that evolved over the millenniums of time to safely return our faeces and urine back into the soil, recycling the nutrients for the uptake of plants and for the continuation of life," says Garry.

Added Leigh: "It's a really smart way to deal with human excreta."

Environmental benefits aside, many compost toilet owners swear they are more sanitary and sweeter smelling than conventional loos.

Leigh built the first approved owner-built compost toilet for $200 in 1983 at his farm at The Channon after convincing a then sceptical Lismore City Council.

Such is the 69-year-olds enthusiasm for them that he only half-jokingly advocates "compost toilet capital of Australia" be attached to the welcome to Lismore sign.

Leigh has even pioneered "toilet tourism" with bus loads of visitors tramping through his farm to inspect his dunny and other cutting-edge practices he's adopted on his organic farm.

"Australia is by and large a faeco-phobic society - fear of poo," says Leigh who retired recently after a nearly 30 year academic career."

We don't need to fear poo we need to respect it.

 

"Here in Lismore we're leading the way. We're a beacon of light to the rest of the country."

 

FAST FACTS

  1. Lismore City Council has more than 500 compost toilets ranging from accredited commercial to home built.
  2. Byron Shire, by comparison has around 46.
  3. But it's widely believed that the real number in both shires is much higher with many non-approved systems operating, many of them home built.
  4. While compost toilets are particularly popular in remote areas, there are also a growing number of town dwellers adopting the eco-friendly toilets.
  5. Instead of flushing it away, in a compost toilet excreta is collected in a small chamber directly beneath the toilet pedestal.
  6. Having not used any water, the material can then decompose with the help of micro and macro organisms eventually resulting in nutrient rich compost.

Topics:  compost, environment



Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Hogan, local farmers welcome slash to backpacker tax

BACKPACKER TAX: Changes to the system would affect the workforce numbers available at Tinaberries farm in Bundaberg. Photo: Paul Donaldson / NewsMail

Kevin Hogan has welcomed the Cabinet's decision

New VC has big dreams for Southern Cross University

Southern Cross University's new vice chancellor, Adam Shoemaker, is enjoying the new role based at Lismore.

Prof Shoemaker wants to see a better work, life, study balance

Local Partners

From purr to a roar, Meow Meow is not kitten

ANYTHING IS PAWSIBLE: Acclaimed cabaret star Meow Meow returns to Lismore.

Anything can happen during her local shows this week

Break strings, ho hearts

Ukulele player A. J. Leonard and cellist Jenny Rowling.

Master ukulelist visits this week

More Northern River schools needed to be counted in

John Foreman and Jay Laga'aia at a songwriting workshop earlier this year.

Music - Count Us In will be held in November

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

Buyers forking out millions

Owners benefiting from undersupplied Northern Rivers market

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

New $33 million development planned for Ballina Shire

The site of a proposed seniors living development at Skennars Head.

Plans include 211 homes, clubhouse and recreational facilities

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction