Karuna strawbale roundhouse

Compost toilet in a strawbale roundhouse

This article was originally written in 2017 and posted on my business website at the time. I stopped making compost toilets in 2019, however, we love the story behind Karuna and their beautiful house!

In 2017, I made a compost toilet for Janta and Merav, who have created a place called Karuna in Shropshire. Although they’ve been resident on the site since 2007, they managed to obtain planning permission to build a strawbale, green roof roundhouse (after a very long and arduous struggle with the planning authorities).

Strawbale roundhouse at Karuna
Strawbale roundhouse at Karuna

Since moving onto the 16 acre site, they have planted over 9,000 trees and are demonstrating and living a low-impact future through forest gardening, permaculture and sustainable practices.

At the very start, Janta built a simple but effective ‘long drop’ style compost toilet. However, Merav was less keen on trudging across a field to use the toilet, especially at night or when it was dark, wet and cold!

Janta, ever the free-spirit, says he’ll always use his outside loo with a view, but Merav will benefit greatly from having an indoor waterless toilet!

Merav chose the ‘untreated’ Eco-Loo compost toilet that I was making at that time, complete with solid oak toilet seat. Once fully installed, they’ll be applying a few coats of Tung oil to protect and enhance the wood.

Merav was incredibly excited to have a toilet in the new house!

You can find out more about Karuna on their website: https://www.karuna.org.uk/

Inside the living area of the strawbale roundhouse at Karuna
Inside the strawbale roundhouse at Karuna
Looking up through the dome ceiling at Karuna strawbale roundhouse
Looking up through the dome ceiling at Karuna strawbale roundhouse

I no longer make compost toilets. You can get urine separators to make your own compost toilet, take a look at the Separett Privy which you can purchase online from WooWoo Waterless Toilets in the UK.

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    1. In most cases, I suggest people run the urine outside through appropriate pipework, to a small soak-away pit. This is a small (50x50x50cm ish) hole, filled with gravel etc. The urine flows into the top and the material provides a large surface area to slow its flow. Naturally-occurring soil bacteria will feed off the nitrogen (food) in the urine and convert it to mainly water.
      The amount of urine the soak-away is having to deal with is very small – typically 1.5 – 2 litres a day for most people, spread out over several visits. If you’re in the UK, the Environment Agency are OK with any discharge to the ground of under 10 litres a day, provided you are at least 10 metres away from a water course etc.

      Small soak-away for urine diverting toilet

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