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Low entropy technologies aim to reduce their impact on the environment while maximizing their impact on the quality of life. They are the "how to" of sustainable development. At ReSource, we have a particular focus on waste management processes and technologies. By rethinking the processes and technologies we use in the creation and for the disposition of waste, we can stop pollution and start recycling; finding health, economic, and environmental benefits along the way.

We advocate for and support low entropy systems; non-depleting, non-wasting, non-polluting technologies. These include zero discharge waste treatment technologies, greywater recycling systems, new energy technologies, and alternative building materials and designs.

ReSource Composting Toilets:
integrating design, beauty, and sustainable maintenance

The ReSource Composting Toilet is a low maintenance organic waste treatment system which uses natural, biological decomposition to convert toilet waste into safe fertilizers. This aerobic process reduces the volume of material inside the composting chamber by 95%. Modeled after the Clivus Multrum, our toilets have proven effective in both wealthy and poor communities. They can be built or manufactured with varying degrees of sophistication; including dry and low-flush units.

In the ReSource Composting Toilet, a small amount of thoroughly decomposed material, a humus and excellent soil conditioner, settles to the bottom of the composting chamber and is removed via an access door at the front of the chamber. Twenty-five uses a day will produce about two cubic feet of this compost after two years.

A valuable liquid end-product is captured at the bottom of the tank, in a separate storage container. Urine moves through a nitrification bed inside the compost chamber and breaks down into an odorless, pathogen-free, and stable fertilizer. A family of six can expect to capture between 100 to 500 liters a year, depending on usage and evaporation.

Disease causing organisms in the waste pile are not killed by heat. Rather, they die because conditions inside the composting toilet are not favorable to their growth and because they are consumed by an active population of decomposer organisms. Fifty years of testing of this style composting toilet confirms that it meets vigorous health standards.

Maintenance must be managed. It should not be left to individual households, no matter the education or training initiatives. Households can and should be expected to lend a hand, but just as a plumber is called to fix your flush toilet, people with composting toilets should have a trained and reliable expert on which they can call for help.

How a Composting Toilet Works

How a Composting Toilet Works in Spanish

Greywater treatment and recycling

Any water that has been used in the home, with the exception of water from the toilet, is called greywater. In the United States, greywater by and large goes to sewers or septic tanks. In the Third World, it runs into the streets or is piped to rivers and lakes. The safe and ecological way to treat greywater is to use it as irrigation water, utilizing its nutrient value while saving fresh water for other uses. This means taking greywater out of sewers, septic tanks, and gutters and feeding it to plants through landscape irrigation.

A number of different systems exist to take the greywater from the house and efficiently deliver it to plants. The best system is determined by the site characteristics, the volume of greywater produced, your objectives for its use, the regulatory climate, material availability, and cost.

To see an example of our greywater work, see Oasis Design's web page on our greywater work in Maruata, Mexico. Oasis is a RILES partner. Since 2001, RILES has been working in Maruata with Art Ludwig and Oasis Design to help this community at "a development crossroad" make choices about which direction it will take in its growth and development plan. For more on Maruata, see Maruata at the Crossroads, a book on the Oasis website. Complimentary copies for qualifying institutions and communities are available from RILES.

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179 Boylston Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 USA Last updated: 17-May-2008
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© 2007 The ReSource Institute for Low Entropy Systems