Green Options for Portable Toilets

Anita and Mike Pavey — 1 July 2022
Changing the way we go to the loo

For as long as I can remember, we’ve been using a portable toilet for camping trips. Back in our Tvan days, it was the humble Porta Potti that took care of business! Perched on the corner of the hard floor, it was readily available for overnight visits without stumbling too far, and reduced movement translated to an easier transition back into deep sleep.

But the caveat was the use of toilet chemicals. We’ve tried liquids, tablets, and more recently sachets. They all smell — not as much as what’s in the pot, but we would argue it’s a very close second. Crack a new bottle of toilet disinfectant and find a suitable place to store it, as it will stink out any cupboard, and that’s with the lid on!

Chemical toilets are great for the black bitumen tourers. Most RV Parks have a waste disposal station, and more and more towns are RV Friendly with their own free dump points. Yet step off the blacktop and those disposal sites quickly erode. Other options include digging a hole and burning toilet paper or using long drop toilets.

Over the last few years, we’ve been using a product called Ezy Go Now for our off-road adventures. Simply line your toilet bowl with a special plastic bag, scoop in a cap of Poo Powder, and go for it. The powder encapsulates the waste, deodorises, and it’s ready for disposal with other rubbish. Simply tie a knot in the bag! It saves digging when the ground is too hard and using long drop toilets that may be too far from your campsite at night.

One of the other challenges of using a cassette style toilet is the small volume capacity. As each visit results in a flush of water, the cassette quickly fills. Caravan style cassette toilets can often delete the top tank to save space, meaning that the unit is plumbed directly to the onboard water supply. Without a top tank, there’s no holding area to add the flushing additive that prevents the loo from smelling like a public toilet. You can still use a spray bottle periodically, it’s just not as convenient.

A worthwhile modification to a van cassette toilet is a SOG conversion, making it chemical and odour free. When the toilet blade valve is opened, fresh air is drawn into the waste tank, speeding up decomposition. A ventilator pushes the odours out of the holding tank and through a filter and hose fitted to the external cassette door. This type of modification typically costs around $570 if installed during manufacture.

While the SOG system deletes the chemicals aiding in disposal, it’s still limited by the size of the cassette.

Macerator toilets provide an alternate option for waste disposal. The macerator pump slices and dices the waste which is stored in a large black waste tank mounted under the body. However, this can contribute to a lot of additional weight to be carried.

Our new Kimberley Karavan has a composting or waterless toilet. It’s more environmentally friendly as it uses a composting agent such as peat moss rather than chemicals to help break down the waste. Number ones are separated from number twos, with the ones captured into a large waste bottle which is emptied as required. The twos go into the base of the toilet with the composting agent and used toilet paper. A side mounted churn handle helps blend the waste and a ventilator system like the SOG toilet draws fresh air in and vents odours though a filter to the outside. With claims of capturing up to 80 visits, it seems like a much better option, being both chemical free and long lasting between empties. 

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