Ecosan is a shortened term for ecological sanitation. It refers to a system of human toilet systems which separate solids and liquids at source, safely and in a hygienic manner without causing pollution; and uses the nutrient value contained in the waste for growing plants. Typical sanitation solutions have included the septic tank or simply a pit latrine. Both tend to pollute ground water and are environmentally unsatisfactory.
The Ecosan method consumes less than a litre of water per day for a family, converts human waste to a fertilizer resource, is clean, hygienic and functional and can be constructed almost anywhere irrespective of high water tables, hard rock below the ground or any other conditions that might prevent the construction of regular toilets. By harvesting rain water from the rooftop of the toilet into a 200 litre drum all the water requirement of washing in the toilet can be met by the toilet roof itself. For a detailed description on how the Ecosan method works, see this PDF.
The Indian style Ecosan pan is designed with three openings. One for the urine, one for the solids and one for cleaning your bottom. The solids are covered with ash or sawdust or any organic material. This ensures no smell. There are no problems of flies, gnats or insects. The urine is collected in a plastic jug and after dilution with water in proportions of 1 to 3 or 1 to 8 can be used for plants, especially trees, where it makes a good fertilizer with its high nitrogen content. The faeces is collected in a bucket or tin box, and once this is full it is replaced with another. The full box is allowed to compost for 3 weeks and then transferred for further composting to a composting drum or compost pile. For washing purpose you can use a ‘tippy tap’ water saving hand washing system.
This video shows the Ecosan toilet in an outside bamboo bathroom. The raised platform allows easy access to the compost bucket and urine jug. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xPqyF9CVRE