What started back in 2006 as a daring undertaking is now a highly admired model fusing ecologic values and technology. Boom Festival’s compost toilets have transformed the way we approach sanitation in large scale events, by developing a unique system that is not only ultra hygienic, but also sustainable in countless ways.
It is thanks to our teamwork with organisations such as Ecocentro IPEC, Humus Sapiens, CompostEra that we have made it thus far. We have also worked alongside universities and DIY enthusiasts and followed the Joe Jenkins method and principles of microbiology (read his best-selling “The Humanure Handbook” - unveils some incredible secrets about composting!) - and we have carefully studied the singularities of human dynamics at festivals.
Let go of what you know of the outside world.
Forget flush toilets, with their evil chemicals and fetid smells. Dry toilets are here to shift the sanitation paradigm!
You might be wondering how they work. Here are some specs about their functioning:
Let’s say you are using the compost toilet. This is when you deposit your manure or pee.
Under the toilet seat, a composting tank has been previously prepared with a special “composting bed” (made of nutrients, like carbon) that ease the composting process and neutralizes the odors.
When you are done, close the toilet lid - a crucial step to keep the heat in and the flies out! And by the way, the provided toilet paper is made of recycled tetra pak, so no worries about throwing it inside the toilets!
The whole composting process is absolutely safe. There are two ways of getting rid of harmful organisms: some human pathogens don’t survive long outside the human body, so we rely on the time factor to ensure that they perish by keeping the pile of human waste inside the composting tanks for a minimum of six months. Other organisms only go away with very high temperatures, which are very common in the Idanha-a-Nova region! For these organisms, we keep the human waste pile at 50ºC for 3 days. With time, along with high temperatures, most of pathogens in human waste eventually die.
The resulting material is then sent into a lab, analysed, and if it comes out in good condition, we return it to the land to create...soil!
Important Note: Because female hygiene products and baby nappies are made of plastic and chemicals, they MUST NOT be thrown into the toilet!
Same goes for cigarette butts, plastic materials or any other chemicals. Never, ever pour the chemicals of your caravan in the compost toilets. At Boom, poop is black gold, so help us keep it healthy!
Ultimately, all of this compost becomes organic fertiliser for our gardens - which then give back wonderful flowers and delicious edibles! Mother Nature always finds a way of giving back.
Why are they better and more ethical than standard toilets?
They do not waste WATER! Did you know that an average flush uses between 6 to 15 liters of water? And we are talking about potable water! Overall, we have been flushing ⅓ of the potable global water, at a time when at least 663 million people (data from wateraid.org) live without clean water. A total nonsense!
Eco-Letter 2016 Fact: We had 348 Compost toilets spread across the venue - this means we saved more than 500,000L of water over the course of the whole event!
They are chemical FREE! Think of all the products used daily to clean toilets, and then picture all of those same chemical-filled cleaning products going straight into our water streams. No need to overload the public water treatment plant when there are alternative solutions out there.
They create SOIL! When one speaks about environmental problems, soil fertility problems are usually left out the equation. However, it is a very real, very actual issue, as soils throughout the planet are worn out, poisoned, or without any fertile potential left. And how do we expect to survive if we can’t work our lands? By collecting the human manure of 30,000+ Boomers, we are contributing to the making of some good ol’ humus to nurture the earth!