Compost Toilet Design Seminar 2014



Last summer’s Composting Toilet Seminar at the Lama Foundation was pleasant and informative.  We were a small group and we spent most of our time for two weeks interviewing people at Lama about their toileting practices,  reading about various composting systems, and hearing from specialists about what we should consider when designing a new system.  Finally, we made recommendations, which are summarized in the following two documents:

summary.composttoiletseminar.findings.2014   and


Next summer  (June or July of 2015) we expect to build a few Arboloos, and one fossa alterna, and a few new pee screens. Click on “Meditative Carpentry,” in the menu above if you are interested in participating.

One $5000 donation was raised from a donor toward the construction of a central system, and we hope this summer to lobby the residents and Council to make a central system a priority for 2016.

(the following was posted in Spring of 2014:)

Here is the current list of people who plan to participate, either as designers or as presenters, in the composting toilet seminar July 11-24, 2014.

Nina Schmidt is a registered sanitarian and has been a wastewater system designer for almost 20 years in the Flagstaff, Arizona area. She has a master’s degree in Sustainable Communities focused on environmental perception and education from Northern Arizona University. Previously she was an analytical chemist at Biosphere 2, developing methods for analyzing air, water and soil for various chemical constituents within the closed system. She is also trained as a classroom teacher.

Andy Bramble‘s first hands-on natural building (and human waste systems) experiences were at Lama Foundation’s 2002 Build Here Now.  After a few years of study and experimentation, Andy and his wife Amanda purchased land and began building. They have exclusively used a humanure system on that land.  They co-founded Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center in 2008.

Derek Roff has been involved with what we now call natural building and sustainability since his youth in the late ‘60s.  Since the ‘90s, he has worked on promoting research and education in these areas, especially strawbale building. A fan of  both the pumice wick system and The Humanure Handbook, Derek  has been using and promoting the sawdust toilet approach since 1994.   Derek set up and oversaw the use of sawdust toilets during the Build Here Now gatherings at Lama, from 2000-2005.  Recently retired from the University of New Mexico Language Learning Center, Derek is fluent in Esperanto, the language of intercultural understanding and peace.

Originally from Canada, Lila Sideras and her family have been using a Omick barrel composting toilet at their home in Tucson since 2012. They have since used the resulting compost and urine diversion to revive their landscape, and to feed their large vegetable garden. The family is part of Watershed Management Group‘s  Soil Stewards program.

Varo Ramirez, originally from Guadalajara, Mexico is a builder.  He first heard about composting toilet systems in Nogales, Sonora, when he worked for the crosscultural border exchange program,  Borderlinks  and co-led the installation of a large,  concrete,  double chamber system in 2002.   He is married to Lila and installed his family’s CT system.

Silvia Rayces is a long time believer in and practioner of Permaculture ethics: care of the earth , care of people and contribution of surplus of time, money and energy to caring for the earth and people.   She has illustrated permaculture designs for Tim Murphy Consulting. Her illustrations have also appeared in Permaculture Drylands Journal, and the books Harvesting Rainwater for Landscape Use, and Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond. She also wrote a series of articles on permaculture for the Tucson Organic Gardeners’ newsletter.

I will add to the list as new people sign up.  Join us!

Leave a Reply