The Most Commonly Asked Question

“Where do you go to the bathroom?”

Quite simply, we have an outhouse.  The outhouse is a small enclosure that sits 40 yards from the house and down from the summer time prevailing wind.  =)  It consists of a place to sit with a toilet seat and a bucket of sandy dirt underneath.  We use toilet paper that readily breaks down and after each deposit, cover with dirt.  Once the bucket is full, we go dig a deep hole, and empty the bucket, cover with dirt/sand, and start over again.  One bucket lasts 7 days with 2 people using it.

Outhouse Interior

Outhouse Interior

Outhouse Exterior

Outhouse Exterior


A typical outhouse sits over deep permanent hole, and once that hole is filled, the outhouse gets moved and that hole gets covered.

A second style of outdoor toilet is a composting one. Composting toilets rely on the fact that waste is mostly water.  Through the composting process, the water evaporates and leaves via a top vent and the remaining solid waste (maybe 10-15%) breaks down into fertilizer over time.  Once the waste is “cooked” with the right amount of O2, heat and organic material, it may be used for fertilizer.  No nasty-no bad stuff.

We chose not to use the typical outhouse because digging a hole big enough and deep enough was prohibitive at the time, and quite frankly, they stink. The use of cedar chips or lime powder to cover is an option to fix that problem, but for now, we opt for free dirt to cover and keep the amount of waste small at a time.

The toilet trajectory looks like this…Originally it was just a bucket and a shovel hidden behind a wall (mostly), now we have an outhouse, in the next year I’m betting on a composting system…

I’ve noticed that some people wrinkle their nose a bit at this-it’s not nasty nor is non-hygienic.  We don’t do nasty and neither of us intends on getting E. Coli or Salmonella so we handle waste with care and keep the outhouse super clean and smelling nice!

One last thought-I’ve noticed that every time I use a toilet at someone’s home or business and it malfunctions (embarrassing!) I remember how little I miss plumbing.

Here’s another nice post by Post Consumer Life on composting toilets:

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