This blog is brought to you by some of the looks of horror that we catch every so often from new visitors to Wildwood Days when we mention the composting toileting facilities at the beginning of one of our sessions.
A composting toilet, it would seem, can induce some apprehension upon first consideration. Undeniably, it is a more rustic and rudimentary system of waste management in comparison to the amazing indoor flush toilets of our homes. However, at Wildwood we are careful to manage our toilet carefully to reduce any concerns that visitors new to this system may have initially.
Where We are Up to Currently:
The Building: We have been very lucky to have the composting toilet from almost the very beginning as our lovely landowner Peter built it in the first few months of our tenancy followed very shortly by the first incarnation of our shelter facilities. It is a simple construction which utilises the natural higher slopes of the old railway sidings. So the main building is on stilts sitting neatly against the soil banking and this creates a natural drop system which has clearance from underneath.
The inside of the toilet cubicle is luxurious by forest school or bush-craft standards. Indeed, there’s a normal toilet seat and lid set upon a raised lined wooden box to provide the pedestal seating we are used to at home. Moreover, there are a couple of steps for littler legs, a potty and a toddler seat that can be placed under the adult toilet seat for little bums. In addition we have squeezed a low set urinal for boys wanting to stand-up wee who struggle with the box pedestal. See – very hospitable! No wild weeing necessary here!
But quite seriously, as mums we understand having to go to the loo away from home can be trigger point for little ones (and big ones too – I’m not that keen on going to strange loos myself!) so we have tried to provide our version of a rustic, fairly painless, toileting experience…no hand dryers here! 🙂
Moreover, we use Who Gives a Crap 100% recycled toilet paper which we buy in bulk and recycle the toilet rolls and paper packaging into our sessions. Who Gives a Crap toilet paper uses no dyes, inks or scents and so is not only very environmentally friendly but a very gentle paper for your nether regions. What’s more, impressively they also donate 50% of their profits to building toilets in places of need.
Hygiene: This comes under two sub-headings: Users and Cleaning. So, users of our wonderful Wildwood Toilet have the option of alcohol hygiene gel which is positioned on the wall next to the door OR as not everyone big and small is into more astringent alcohol gel we provide a washing sink in the main shelter where there is warm water and soap on a rope available to wash hands.
Furthermore, for cleaning of the toilet block itself we do a combination of the following: the toilet seat, lid and box, potty, toddler seat and urinal are cleaned with disinfectant wipes at the end of every working day. The building is swept out with one of our homemade witch’s brooms every few weeks (sometimes we even sweep off the odd cobweb…we don’t tend to notice them anymore; I think we may have become a bit too wilded 🙂 ) Every so often the urinal and building floor are swilled out with soapy water but with all the mud on site it’s not long at all before you wouldn’t know.
Future Plans and Considerations:
We have been conscience for quite a while that we do not provide a designated baby change area. Our families are very understanding and in the way that we mums do they make use of what there is in the shelter area (our bigger wide bench area) or they use the boot of their car just before they leave when they are getting their little ones back into the car anyway. However, it is a subject that comes around during our planning and development meetings so at some point I’m sure we will come up with a suitable solution for everyone…Our main concerns so far have included issues like introducing an ugly plastic change table into an already cosy toilet cubicle which wouldn’t sit well in our rather rustic woodiness and the un-recyclable nature of wipes etc and our bid to become as waste free as we can as a business. Therefore, if you have any ideas we are open to suggestions so do shout if you can think of something we could try!