So - this past weekend The Management (Ange) and I set off for mid Wales in the UK to attend a composting toilet course at CAT - the Centre for Alternative Technology. No shit - there is a course on composting toilets.
You may be thinking - 'but you guys make toilets - why would you go on the course?' Well we make our toilets but these amazing folks look at lots of different toilets, user dynamics, group dynamics, what works on big scales, small scales, but most importantly what doesn't work. One of the points was that water toilets are here and for the foreseeable future here to stay. It's an amazing infrastructure that engineers have built and frankly it is awesome to flush and forget. So the CAT work with 'no flush' as well as 'low flush' tech (as low as 4 litres a flush! 🤯)
The Centre for Alternative Technology is an awesomely inspiring place. Founded in 1973 on a disused slate quarry in Mid Wales, CAT has evolved from a community to a visitor centre to an educational charity specialising in sharing practical solutions for sustainability. To a cold, hard-nosed numbers person like me, its ideals initially sound too good to be true even and wishy-washy. But in reality it really is that simple - inspire and educate people. That's where the amazing community of people make it what it is.
CAT’s mission is to inspire, inform and enable humanity to respond to the climate and biodiversity emergency.
On the course for composting toilets, conversations between the course instructor Fin - an amazing person with a natural capability to facilitate conversation - and the group participants was varied and diverse. Participants' interests ranged from urban use cases, allotments, water conservation to off-grid & forest based applications... and of course the van crew! Topics ranged from composting toilets, design, usage and pathogen management to tomoato seeds (which need to pass through the gut to germinate - so almost always appear in compost!) to land usage, to green energy from biofuel - check out Drax here for an eye opening insight... and if that's not enough this letter to the EU... Sooo much of this was new to me...
But we digress...
The Center for Alternative technology is the kind of place that opens your eyes to amazing ideas. So many amazing ideas are here that course participants were asking - what was the name of that thing again it seems fricking awesome - why haven't I heard of it before? (it's called an Aquatron) Then there's the pushing of boundaries in general - like the huge 7.2m (23.6ft) rammed earth wall in the Wise building.
Those little contraptions on the doors to the composting toilet pits are fly traps.
Coming away from the course, I was inspired at how awesome composting is and could still be if we could scale it. How we have the low-energy solutions now (aquatron!) if only regulation were able to keep up with what was really needed for survival.
Luckily I know where there's a load of super smart people to work with to help make this shit happen!