Monday, July 16, 2012

Pit Stops: John Janzen Nature Centre CT

Reblogged from The Dusty Musette

Tucked away in a western cranny of Edmonton’s river valley, between Fort Edmonton Park and the John Janzen Nature Centre, stands a marvel of elegant, simple, sanitary-engineering  design. It’s a composting toilet (CT), made by Advanced Composting Systems of Whitefish, Montana, and it’s situated in a small raised structure next to a cycling path. The staff of the Nature Centre look after it, and they keep it remarkably clean and well stocked; I’ve used it many times and never been caught wanting for supplies. Sometimes there’s even actual Purell in the hand-cleaner dispenser.

My guess is that the Nature Centre folks see the CT as a kind of environmental PR project, promoting the possibilities of composting. (There is, in fact, a Compost Education Centre at the Nature Centre across the trail). So I suspect there’s a kind of pride factor that helps explain the pristine condition of this craphouse. A sign inside explains how the toilet works—making vague reference to mysterious “organisms” that live down below and go to town on the unsavoury deposits in such a way that renders said deposits benign, odorless, heck, even beneficial. The sign refers to the end-product as “a rich, well-stablilized mulch.” And here’s the amazing thing: the place is completely odorless. A quick glance down the hole would make you think that’s impossible, but I’m here to testify that the place absolutely does not smell in any way toilet-y. Actually, it smells kind of peaty, in a subtle, earthy way, like a fine single malt Scotch.

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