When Your Waste is a Gift


We all know the dread of using a porta-potty… the dirty, cramped space, chemical smells, and nowhere to put your belongings. A new Portland start-up aims to be a leader in portable, eco-friendly sanitation that uses nutrient cycling and provides a better experience for the user. Started in 2015, the Nature Commode (http://naturecommode.com/) is made of environmentally friendly material, contains no toxic chemicals, and provides the user with a more natural experience, all the way down to the hand soap. 


Using only locally sourced sawdust, the Nature Commode reduces unpleasant smells and makes waste that can be reused as fertilizer at local farms. Urine actually has a similar composition to commercial fertilizers, so it makes sense to utilize it in agriculture. Though biogas or composting pit latrines are preferred for more permanent locations, the Nature Commode is perfect for temporary use. They are built from natural materials instead of plastic, have a spacious interior and better ventilation, use natural light, and offer ground level entry for easier access. There are even hooks to hang your belongings! The Nature Commode comes in single stalls, 2 man urinals, ADA accessible stalls, and cabin commodes. 


Two and a half billion people worldwide don’t have access to safe, adequate sanitation, which leads to contamination of local water sources and water-borne diseases. Green Empowerment, a Portland non-profit organization (www.greenempowerment.org), works in developing countries to provide clean drinking water and renewable energy. Getting a handle on human waste is one of their priorities, and the Nature Commode is an excellent example of how to close the nutrient loop when portable solutions are needed. Using natural fertilizers reduces the use of chemical fertilizers and limited phosphorous reserves, as well increases watershed protection from the decreased use of energy-intensive wastewater treatment facilities. 

We’re particularly interested in this concept of “burden to bounty”. For example, in the case of thousands of people flooding into Lesbos, an island of 12 million olive trees. Instead of an impending environmental and health disaster from overwhelmed temporary sanitation stations, the material could be valued as a resource, treated and directed for beneficial use by the island’s farmers. Do they need to otherwise import fertilizer to support their crops?  Instead they are having it freely delivered on a daily basis,” –Nicole Cousino, founder of Nature Commode.

November 19th is World Toilet Day http://worldtoilet.org/. Is your waste a valuable resource?

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