As our nation faces water shortages and water crises in heavily populated areas like California, composting toilets continue to gain popularity as a water-saving alternative to traditional toilets. Their growing usage, however, leads many families and homeowners to wonder, are they a good solution for my home? Particularly for families with children, there are some special considerations to take into account.
The needs of families with children will vary, depending on the ages of the kids in the home. If you have young children, for example, potty training may be a consideration. First, you'll want to evaluate the seat height of the toilet. Many composting toilets, specifically self-contained units, feature very tall seat heights. Some even have built-in stools or footrests, making it easier for an adult to step up to the seat. For a child, this would obviously create a problem in getting to the toilet on their own.
Young children are notorious for wanting to flush various objects down the toilet-any parent who's ever fished a watch or rubber ducky or other item out of their toilet bowl is well aware of this. With a composting toilet, reaching the lost object may not be so simple. One of the biggest pros to modern composting toilets is that they're designed in such a way that the homeowner does not have to come into contact with the waste until it is fully composted. However, if you think your child has dropped something down into the toilet, you may find yourself donning some gloves and sifting through waste to get at the lost item. Thus, it's important that parents of young children take the time to impress upon their kids the importance of not putting any foreign objects in the toilet. Another easy alternative is to install a child-proof toilet seat and lid, so that children cannot lift up the lid without your assistance.
If you have older adolescents to young teens in your home, you may also need to discuss the importance of not putting things like wet wipes, tampons, or sanitary pads into the toilet. The only things that should go in a composting toilet are waste and toilet paper. Everything else belongs in the garbage can.
The amount of toilet paper used may also be another conversation to have with kids, though this isn't a topic just for homes with composting toilets. Many parents have had to use a plunger to unclog a traditional toilet when a child has used half the roll of toilet paper and tried to flush. With a compost toilet, the issue isn't that it won't flush, but rather that using too much paper will affect the capacity of the unit itself. Capacities of composting toilets are typically based on the number of people using the fixture each day. If someone is adding a huge amount of toilet paper, this will of course have an impact.
Last but not least, homeowners with composting toilet systems should take the time to explain to their kids about the regular maintenance of the unit. Usually this involves adding some bulking material, such as a peat moss/wood chip mixture, each day and turning a crank on the outside of the toilet, which in turn rotates the inner drum. Once children are old enough, get them involved in these daily activities. The more they know about the system, the less likely they are to do something that might potentially harm it.
Composting toilets are a wonderful alternative to traditional toilets, and they can be used virtually anywhere. For families with children, they are still a very viable alternative to traditional toilets, provided that parents explain to and educate their kids about the toilet. Plus, by introducing your kids to an eco friendly fixture like a composting toilet while they are young, you'll be making a positive impact on their lifelong tendency toward a green lifestyle.