Composting Toilets at an Environmental Center | NAAEE

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Composting Toilets at an Environmental Center

Good Morning!

I hope that you and yours are safe and healthy as we all do our best to manage things during the pandemic. I'm hoping that you can help me with questions about composting toilets.

Background Info: The Cooper Center for Environmental Learning is located in the Sonoran Desert, just outside of Tucson, Arizona. We host over 3,000 students each school year for day, single night, and multi-night experiences. Our audience ranges from Preschool to Adult, but the bulk of our programs are with upper elementary school students. A typical field trip day sees 40-50 students plus parent chaperones and school staff.

Our Bathroom Project: Bathrooms at Cooper are currently "rustic" and limited. We are upgrading, but being located in a desert is requiring us to get creative. We are looking at alternative and sustainable systems, and most of our focus is on composting toilets.

Here's what I'm wondering: if your facility uses composting toilets or another alternative system, how does it work for your team? What are its benefits and drawbacks? If you were involved in the choice of installing the system at your facility, why was it chosen over other options? Does your facility have janitorial/maintenance staff, or do educators or other employees help to cover these responsibilities? If so, is it an source of challenge or frustration for them to do this work?

Please share any feedback that you think will be helpful, and if you'd be willing to have a brief conversation about any or all of these questions, let me know! Thanks for your help!

From the Desert,

Colin Waite (he/him/his)
Cooper Center for Environmental Learning
Department of Teaching, Learning & Socio-cultural Studies

University of Arizona College of Education
PO Box 210069
Tucson, AZ 85721
Office Phone: (520)626-1825

Hi Colin, thank you so much for sharing your important work, which is so sorely needed in so many places. Do you also have capacity or interest in developing countries? I'm going to endorse your post so try to get you some more reach. Best of lick, donna

Hi Colin, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation sponsors overnight trips for educators and students. They have composting toilets at several of their overnight field trip sites. I took a group of 7th graders for a 3-day field trip and the students learned a great deal about water conservation and composting from "experiencing" these toilets. During a normal year, they get thousands of visitors. Here is a link to their field programs ( and here's a link to some info on their Clivis composting toilets ( ). Contact info is on their website. I'm sure they would be happy to share information with you! Sheri