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Photo 1 of shed - The pilgrims seat / The plopping shed, Herefordshire Photo 2 of shed - The pilgrims seat / The plopping shed, Herefordshire Photo 3 of shed - The pilgrims seat / The plopping shed, Herefordshire Photo 4 of shed - The pilgrims seat / The plopping shed, Herefordshire Photo 5 of shed - The pilgrims seat / The plopping shed, Herefordshire Photo 6 of shed - The pilgrims seat / The plopping shed, Herefordshire

The pilgrims seat / The plopping shed

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    It's a compost toilet.

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    Ever been on a long walk and been caught short in the countryside, then suddenly out of nowhere you see a toilet? What a godsend!

    The pilgrims seat aka The plopping shed composting loo was built as a prototype for churches that are being opened for walking pilgrims to stay overnight in churches for free as part of pilgrim routes in Britain including the Golden Valley Pilgrim Way in Herefordshire and the Via Beata; an across Britain route from Lowestoft to St David's. Both of these routes now have churches open for pilgrims to travel light with toilets or composting toilets installed where none were available with the support of the Church Walking Pilgrimages project. Thanks to the local communities and church wardens support, pilgrim churches are at one day walking intervals so no tent is required for a pilgrim to rest and of course thanks to the compost toilets, perform their daily movements.

    The builder is also a gardener, a compost loo has a tremendous use for those with green fingers as well as for the calls of nature, that's why it has two names.

    As all gardeners knows enriching fertilising compost is one of the secrets to growing good quality veg and of course having fresh veg in your garden is essential if you want to live life to the highest standard possible..

    Growing good and tasty food is easy and takes little time when you know what you're doing but one of the big labours is compost. Now if you have your compost available where you need it being produced by an animal, you're laughing. Well we have it already, our own human waste of course. So sensible and logical, it completes the growing cycle. You take in food, expel the waste, put the waste back on the land and grow the food. So growing our own food is freedom and producing our own compost is a key to that freedom.This happens now actually, but on big scale and in a daft way, using huge volumes of clean water, and very smelly to those living nearby. We pay for waste to be taken away. Waste company's sell the waste to farmers and they sell the veg back to us with the extra labour of carting it about in lorries, storing it, sometimes for over a year or even longer.. Much better to do it ourselves and in a small way.

    Of course this is what always used to happen.. It was a great British tradition and was common lore until recently when we all became so dependent.. But, ... we can do again and we can do it better now. A small piece of kit available to us but not to our forebears, a urine separator, can be easily bought, attached to a toilet seat and separates liquid from solid, with the result, it becomes smell free. So long as the liquids and solids are kept apart, there is no smell. One thing, the compost (solids) needs to be stored a couple of years before use, in a wheelie bin perhaps at the bottom of the garden, there is not much of it, honest.. Compost toilets can be used in a regular house indoors and require a much lower setup cost, no drains, no water supply, nothing to go wrong. But it is nicer outside, if you have the space. Composting loos are a far more sustainable way of dealing with dumps than chemical loos, much cheaper also and have a wide range of potential applications, anywhere that's off grid such as allotment but also for temporary gatherings. But it might arguably make more sense to use compost loos in homes in some places rather than the current system, there's another added benefit for wildlife and biodiversity, there's no chance of polluting rivers when waste is processed at home.

    The one I built was pretty simple, a box built, using 2 x 2 timber, approximately 6 x 5 feet x 7 feet tall. The box within has a raised toilet seat. I made the raise using wedges of wood then lines with some offcuts of epdm rubber roofing but plastic raised toilet seats are available on ebay very cheaply.. The urine separator must be precisely positioned under the front third of the toilet seat. The urine can also be saved to fertilise crop;.or drained to a shallow soak-away.

    By the way, If you are on a walking route, want to open your church for pilgrims to stay one night and would like some support with the practicalities including how to go about planning and building a compost toilet in a church yard, not a difficult as you might think, please contact for more information.

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