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Zero Waste Living

I am talking about properly designed and installed systems. I am glad yours doesn’t have the problem but that has not been my experience.

The reason the trap was developed for standard pedestals was to deal with the issue of gases coming up from the system, for those who haven’t used one a composter doesn’t have a trap as there is no water to fill it.

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Swerving somewhat OT here. However… something must have gone seriously wrong during either the design or install stages with the ones you’ve encountered, because the couple of others I have seen have been smell-free. I have seen some poorly designed ones in catalogues that are basically a partitioned bucket that you rotate every so often- I can imagine they would stink.
The use of a fan means no gases come back up through the pedestal on Clivus Multrums, it’s a one way trip for everything :wink:
Anyway, that’s enough from me on this topic.

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If going all out to consider water and resource efficiency you need to consider that with a composter you have no water recycling at all unless you also have a grey water system for all your other household water. Showering, washing up, clothes washing and hand washing together use much more water than loo flushing, especially if you IIYLIMIIBFID. With an AWTS you get to use all that water from one system.

But as Gordon has hinted this is getting a bit obscure for most folks.

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It’s not obscure! Composting toilets use less resources than AWTS. What you can do with grey water varies between sites and councils. There are numerous limitations on above ground disposal in any instance.

For AWTS vs conventional septic and grease trap systems in a water blessed location.

We collect 500kl roof water pa. Of this we consume domestically less than 100kl pa. It would be great if Gordon could have some of the excess. The whole of the grey and black water goes back to our ecosystem through sub soil trenches from our septic or grease trap. It is not wasted environmentally.

True it is not recycled for domestic reuse but neither is the waste water from an AWTS. If we had an AWTS we would still need sub soil disposal. That’s what the council requires for our site. The outcome for either wet system (septic or AWTS) is the same for our circumstance. There is no additional water reuse benefit from an AWTS.

An AWTS would also consume approx 800kWhr of electrical power pa. I don’t know what this is in carbon equivalents. It would add costs for servicing which also has a carbon footprint, and consume even more resources. IE all additional inputs/waste that is not recovered! A crude estimate puts the cost of the water we might recover for reuse at $10,000 per mega litre. That’s for secondary treatment standard only.

Several of our neighbours have AWTS. They are on one acre blocks and can only dispose of their waste water sub soil.

A composting toilet system would be great in that it would save having to pay for sludge pump out. A cost common to both septic and AWTS operation.

As per my previous post the core discussion on the relative merits of different approaches to domestic waste water management and the efficiency of each option deserves a separate topic.


How much of this do you think might be used in loo flushing if you had a flushable system? My guess is (assuming you are conservative) 10-15 kl PA. Sure in a dry climate it might matter where you and I live it’s trivial.

By ‘obscure’ I didn’t mean the topic was unimportant but the details of these systems is known only to a few and of little interest to the bulk of people as they are on sewerage. That’s enough from me.


That’s a good point. One report advises that it’s around 1 in 7 Australian households that are not on reticulated sewerage. It clearly is a minor topic. Typical AWTS cost $15,000 or more to install, reed bed, septic and other options typically cost less up front. Other than the AWTS options which are expensive in comparison to operate they are also not a major household annual cost. The industry nation wide is probably quite small and worth less than $1b annual turnover including pump out and plumbing costs directly incurred in maintenance. To scope an in depth review of the available systems, guide notes and operating cost comparisons by Choice to improve our consumer knowledge would be challenging given the wide range of site circumstances and variations in council/state requirements.

Unfortunately the options to repurpose even grey water are very limited for the average household already on reticulated sewage collection. Depending on state and council you may still be able to temporarily divert laundry water and bucket bath water. Our local council is more intent on encouraging reduced consumption as the most effective way to reduce waste of water. Perhaps some councils permit you to treat and repurpose grey water even though you are on a sewerage system. You would need a hefty discount to justify the treatment required.


1 in 7 is still very significant as a portion on the population. 14% is not to be sneezed at and deserves addressing of issues.


Going back to my original question regarding zero waste living and staying away from sewerage and alike.

I’ve read many USA based sites where people did comparisons of shopping

  1. at a place like Coles
  2. Markets
  3. Bulk buy store

They are all stating that shopping for everything at bulk buy they only spend $15 more a week and they get flour, legumes, olive oil, nuts, seeds and everything else there.

When I compare with some of our bulk buy stores I’d be spending as much as $40 more a week.

Are we being gauged?

Considering that we bring our own containers and only pay for the produce. Feels as we are being punished for doing the right thing.

Most of products mentioned in USA blog people were paying same or even cheaper for some items like chickpeas. Even non organic in Australia in bulk buy I’d be paying double Organic will triple or quadruple in price.


What you may be calling Bulk Buying may in fact be a speciality store that deals in loose items such as grains etc (eg a Health Food Store). These generally have higher pricing. When we buy wheat for example we try to buy from a wheat producer or a manufacturer of flour, their prices are generally truly bulk pricing but we need to buy at least a tonne so tend to get a few of us together. I don’t know that there are too many truly Bulk Buy type warehouses here.


i understand what bulk buying is and how the health food type stores work.

We seem to be paying so much more then they do in USA for doing exact same thing.

They have a lot of Wholesale Stores & Co-ops we do not have. Costco a more Supermarket style are starting to appear in more Cities here but places like Jet Wholesale, Whole Foods, WinCo, Mrs Greens etc do not exist in very many if any places here.


I think you meant gouged but yes we are in some cases. In other cases not. The rule that you buy cheaper if you buy in large quantities is false as often as it is true, that’s why we have unit pricing.

Things like chickpeas and rolled oats are usually cheaper pre-packaged in the supermarket, psyllium is cheaper in bulk at the health food store.


I know they do… Even in Australia some claim that shopping in ‘bulk’ is living frugally. My numbers don’t add up.

Sorry meant gouged. Eyes are still sore and blurry after yesterdays outing.

Found it interesting that a uni student in Sydney claims that shopping this way she is frugal.

anna, I have a Gedye bin that someone threw out because it didn’t have a lid, so I covered it with a metal sheet (also thrown out). It makes great compost, with no work on my part. What goes in is not food I have ‘wasted’ - it is inedible fruit and vegetable skins and peelings, tea leaves and coffee grounds, outside leaves of cabbage, lettuce etc - you get the idea.

I don’t know how you could call this waste when it feeds my garden at no cost. The veggies are organically-grown and I don’t spend money on fertlisers, apart from a bottle of Seasol that lasts ages.

I don’t even try and live a perfect life, but do what I am able. That is all any of us can do, so stop worrying what other people claim to do and just do your best.


I live in a block of units and a bin like that would not be allowed.

many people throw the food out, especially if they shop at Coles and alike as it goes off rather quickly.

I shop at farmers markets so I only have scraps. Coffee grounds go into the plants on the balcony, some do get thrown out.

I eat cauliflower leaves so only the core that goes. Potato peelings are almost translucent when they get thrown out.
Need to look up how to make apple jelly from the cor, saw something online a year ago, but never bookmarked it.

Even bulk buy stores are expensive , at times it’s cheaper to buy something in a small packet at Coles then get a larger quantity at a bulk buy store.

I brought it up as I cannot understand how Uni students think that they are living frugally when they shop organically and at a bulk buy store. Some buy deodorant there as well.

I use a DIY composting toilet system meaning composting in a bucket with the help of lacto bacteria and other genius microbes. Not a big deal. BTW, there’s no smell, as the bacteria take care of everything.
I calculated just not flushing the standard toilet I save 10L x 10 times a day x 365 days = almost 40,000 L water a year.


Yes there are some great options.

Standard dual flush toilets use 6l full and 3l part flush.
There is also a low volume set which only requires 4.5l for a full flush.
These are for WELS rated products to Australian Standards.
Usage frequency is obviously a personal choice.

Not sure there is as much to save as suggested.
For two people our total kitchen, laundry and bathroom water use comes to less than 30,000l per person per year. :thinking:


An article regarding using handkerchiefs instead of tissues so as to reduce waste.

I have used handkerchiefs all my life as has my son. I cannot stand tissues.

Instead of slaying so many trees making tissues or carrying around a pocket full of microbes that you get out and wave about from time to time there has to be a better way.

I propose the nose bidet. It would be like a hot water carpet cleaning machine, one button sprays the wash in and the other sucks it out. This would be mounted on the wall like a hand held (telephone) shower on a rail so that you can adjust the height. There are marketing opportunities here for a variety of flavours of nose wash and automated functions.

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