You may ask, “why should I be researching an alternative to flush toilets?” That is an important question to ask. The first reason is that regular flush toilets use up to 8 gallons of water for every flush and that is not helping a growing water shortage problem. Low-flow toilets help address the problem, but waterless toilets go one step further. Clean water is still wasted in many ways, but at least the waste from your toilet is eliminated. Another problem is that waste treatment plants in large cities are no longer able to handle the amount of sewage that is being sent to them. There are ways that individuals like you and I can help. Here is a quick list of flush toilet alternatives:
- Evapotranspiration System
- Advanced Septic and Microbial Septic Systems
- Composting Toilets
- Evaporating Toilets
- Chemical (Portable) Toilets
- Incinerating Toilets
- Holding Tanks
- Lagoon Systems
- Digestor Tanks
There are three factors you have to consider before you decide which toilet system to go with. First, and most importantly, is the system the right one for your situation? Some of the systems are not allowed in certain areas, so check the local codes (in most cases you will be able to get a waiver if you request one). Some systems will be too small for your needs and some will be too large. Some systems cannot hold up to freezing and others have to be used on a constant basis (not good if you need it for a summer cabin). There are a lot of things to consider, but having a list of your requirements will help you find the right match.
The second factor is initial cost. The best thing to do is get a quote from a contractor who factors in labor and materials (sand or gravel for example). For instance, if you are putting in a septic system you have to consider the length of the leech lines. The more anticipated waste the longer the leech lines have to be and higher the cost will be.
The third factor is operational costs. These usually fall into three groups: power, chemicals and maintenance. Know what you are getting into before you get into it. The flush toilet is convenient in that the waste just disappears down the drain and you can forget about it. Most non-flush systems require some work at one point or another.