Living Center Oregon

Sustainable Living Center Oregon

Earth Auger Toilet … Innovation in Waterless Sanitation

The Earth Auger toilet, a low-cost, easy-to-use toilet that diverts urine and feces into separate systems, thereby making it easier for the fecal sludge to be treated and turned into compost. 

The Sustainable Living Center has purchased four of these to put into a AirCrete Tsunami Shelter.

Looking down in to the Earth Auger Toilet

The technology was developed by Dr. Chuck Henry, President and Design Engineer of the US company Critical Practices LLC, former Research Professor at the University of Washington, and international consultant. Dr Henry has extensive experience in composting and the use of organic residuals as fertilizers, and to restore productivity of damaged or contaminated soils; design and installation of compost systems, and wastewater treatment and reuse.

Early this year, the team, in partnership with Dr Henry, launched live prototypes of the Earth Auger toilet in Benin and Ghana. These live prototypes will be used to collect consumer feedback and investigate demand for the Earth Auger design.


Users appreciate the Earth Auger toilets for the convenience and comfort provided by the seated model, in particular; the absence of odors, flies and other insects; and the fill-up time of the receiving bucket. Also, neighbors of the pilot-test households mentioned their interest in acquiring an Earth Auger too.

Of course, as with any good human-centered design intervention, there have been suggestions for improvement. For one, the seat size was not optimal: it may be too big for children, while too small for large-sized users. Dr. Henry quickly solved this problem by developing a larger seat.

Other challenges seem to be occurring because of misuse or poor motivation to adhere to operational instructions. For instance, although the Earth Auger toilet was originally designed for four to six users, up to fifteen users were found to be using monitored toilets. Overuse can adversely affect the stability of the compost created by the toilet. In another case, an error in the construction of the floor of the superstructure meant that the superstructure did not completely surround the toilet, which caused the pedal to malfunction.

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This entry was posted on February 26, 2020 by .