The Southern Glamper: Go Green with a Composting Toilet - 1974 Airstream Excella Remodel

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Go Green with a Composting Toilet - 1974 Airstream Excella Remodel

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Last Best Camper is a fully restored Airstream trailer in Livingston, Montana.

This week, we have a guest blogger.  Carolyn Goodell and her husband, Jackson, have been hard at work on a 1974 Airstream Excella.  This well thought out guest space is available on Air BnB. Carolyn is going to be sharing some content over the coming months on some of the updates and upgrades to their space.

My first experience with a composting toilet was at a family friend's house when I was about ten years old.  Walking into the bathroom there was a large wooden platform with a toilet seat attached to it.  After opening the lid and begrudgingly sitting upon it I felt like I was in a rustic outhouse.  Once I was finished I had to scoop a cup of cedar chips into the deep hole.  As a child, I thought this process was bizarre and so out of comfort zone that it made me uncomfortable enough to hold it for the rest of our visit.  Well, ten years later and times in the eco-friendly world have certainly changed.


Throughout the time that we were living in our Airstream from 2009 -2012 we had a less than a reliable toilet.  We'll leave it at that.  So when the time came to do a second remodel this spring in anticipation of renting our camper on AirBnB, we knew that we could have to invest in a new toilet.  We decided that to make life easier on ourselves we could bypass using the black water tank as well as have more freedom boon docking in the future if we opted for a composting toilet.  I was a little more hesitant to accept this idea than my husband because of memory from years ago but decided to do some research and see if there was anything out there that could put my mind at ease.

When beginning my search, I knew we would need a toilet that looked conventional that guests especially would feel comfortable using.  The two models that seemed to be most popular and user-friendly were the Separette Villa and Nature's Head Dry Composting Toilet.

We vacillated between these two because they both came with benefits as well as compromises. Both brands have a separate system for disposing of solid and liquid waste. The solid goes into a holding area that is ventilated with a small fan and the liquid waste is either collected in a bottle or drained outside/into your holding tank. This method keeps smells at bay and makes waste easier to dispose of. The Nature’s Head is a lower profile toilet, costs about $950, and we had a hard time finding an online review that was negative. However, the urine is stored in a tank that must be emptied regularly. In addition to this, there is a crank on the side, which turns the solid waste, allowing it to break down quicker and this needs to be done frequently. It was due to both of these factors that we decided, for our guests’ convenience that this would not be the best option.  Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet  is a lower profile toilet, costs about $960 and we had a hard time finding an online review that was negative.  However, the urine is stored in a tank that must be emptied regularly.  In addition to this, there is a crank on the side which turns the solid waste, allowing it to break down quicker and needs to be done frequently.  It was due to both of these factors that we decided, for our guests' convenience that this would not be the best option.  

The composting toilet fits into the space and looks like a standard toilet.
That left us with the Separett Villa.  This toilet was larger, so we had to cut into our bathroom wall and create an area for the back fo the tank as well as the ventilation system.  It also meant that we would be shelling out almost $1,400.  However, the toilet is sleek and modern looking, and rather than having a hold in the bowl, there is a flap that does not open unless pressure I put on the seat.  This means that when you lift up the lid there is no gross factor.  Once you sit down, the flap opens up.  There is nothing special that guests will have to do in order to use the toilet.  we will just have to empty the solid waste every few months and let it continue to break down for six months outdoors.  Another benefit is that the liquid waste is drained out of the camper into a gravel pit, along with the gray water from the sinks, shower and washing machine.  resulting in no hassle of worrying about disposing of it.  This toilet was a winner due to its low maintenance on both our end and anyone who stayed in the Airstream as well as its design and reputation for being long lasting.

We know that there are many costing toilet options out there and everyone has different factors that determine which they will choose.  In fact, if it were just us, we may have gone with the Nature's Head.  However, through this process of delving into the composting toilet world, it seems that any option is a good option.  It allows you the freedom not to have a black water tank that must be emptied frequently and cuts down significantly on water usage.  Boon docking is made much easier because of this and can be done for longer periods of time.  Besides that, it is also much better for the environment because the waste is not going into a treatment plant but can simply be thrown away and will basically be dirt that can be added to the landfill.

If you are looking for a unique space to stay in Montana, this Airsstream has a modern feel designed for comfort.
Now that the toilet is installed and we have guests lined up consistently through the month, we are confident that others will have a positive experience with a composting toilet whether they have used on previously or not.  My viewpoint has certainly changed, and I am anxious to get composting toilets installed in our home.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.



Carolyn is a wife, mom to her fur babies, vegan, and realtor in Livington, MT.  She and her husband Jackson have restored and Airstream trailer that is available for lodging - The Last Best Camper. Their unique property provides guest with a stay in an iconic piece of America.  You can follow their work on The Last Best Camper on Instagram as well.  





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Thank you for your feedback and comments. I always review before sharing with other readers. Have a great day!

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