Food & Drink

Scoop: W.C. Afield

If nature calls while you're in the Wedgewood neighborhood, make use of Seattle's first public compo

By Jamie Trudel December 31, 1969

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of Seattle magazine.

W.C. Afield
Gardeners at Wedgwood’s Picardo Farm P-Patch have new cause for relief—a composting toilet. Similar to toilets installed on U.S. Forest Service land, the Clivus Multrum M54 Trailhead single-station model arrived on the scene in April, acquired and installed with the help of a $15,000 City Neighborhood Matching Fund award. Dubbed “the Picaloo” by the community, it replaces an oft-tipped-over portable toilet. Trent Elwing, the project’s volunteer coordinator, expects maintenance costs (for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, cleaning products and wood chips) will run about $5 a month, which will be covered by P-Patch funds and donations.

Without getting into the messy details, the toilet has a solar-powered ventilation system, and requires only 2 gallons of water added weekly (by P-Patch volunteers) to aid in the processing of waste into compost. Unfortunately, Washington state law prohibits using this municipally generated compost—called “humanure”—for lawns, trees and shrubs, so the resulting nutrient-rich mixture will be removed by a disposal contractor after about 7,500 uses…thus defeating the purpose of having a composting toilet in the first place. Still, the toilet certainly has given new meaning to the term “P-Patch.”

Originally published in July 2010


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