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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sun-Mar's Composting Toilets and Garden Composters

Some time ago, while browsing the Internet at random, as one is wont to do from time to time, I found myself staring in disbelief at a small banner ad that flashed the words “composting toilet”. Having some idea of what it takes to get rid of human waste – the ancestral home has a septic tank that needs emptying at least once a year – I was apprehensive about the single unit of the product being advertised staring me in the face. Long story short, the ad brought me to the Sun-Mar website. Once here, I couldn't begin to wonder how I hadn't heard about anything like this ever before even though Sun-Mar has been in the business of making green, Eco-friendly technology for the home for 25 years and a bit. Although this shocks me no end, simply because I've been hearing about “saving the environment” since I was 5, only to, so many years later, find that the problem has only gotten worse, I feel it to be almost a duty of mine to let people know that these kinds of Eco-friendly, “green” alternatives to how we normally live are out there, just waiting to be used by all of us. Allow me to give you a snippet of what I discovered.

History of Sun-Mar

According to the “Company History” page , the Sun-Mar product line was flagged off in 1971, when a gentleman by the name of Hardy Sundberg invented the “world's first self-contained composting toilet.” The next major breakthrough in the Sun-Mar line came when Mr. Sundberg invented the new ingenious and revolutionary “three chamber system” of contained composting that involved a storage drum that could be rotated along a central axis, much like a large animal on a spit fire. This seemingly innocuous addition or amelioration to the model was, in my opinion, the single greatest breakthrough in the company's history, and it makes sense on so many levels. After the realization of this innovation, or perhaps during the same period of time, Sun-Mar moved production to the US. This signaled the next great phase in the company's noble effort to encourage people to live more consciously, as they became the first to receive National SanitationFoundation (NSF) certification for their line of products, as well as securing patent after patent for their pioneering technology. Today, Sun-Mar boasts an “unparalleled range of 22 models from 6 different product families.”

Core Products and Avatars

Composting Toilets

"Composting Toilets" By Sun-Mar
Sun-Mar's “Composting Toilets” vary along three basic features: 1) Self-contained or Central Compost Collection, 2) Wet or Dry Flush System, and 3) Electric or Non-Electric ventilation/heating system. The first thing you should consider is how many you plan to install. Do you want just one in the closet-like bathroom on your RV, or do you want to refurbish all the toilets at a campsite in an effort to earn you some serious Eco-friendly mileage with the children's parents? Next, think about how you want the flush to work. Do you want to go with a water-conscious system, or a severely water-conscious, “A/F Waterless” flush system? Finally, you are probably going to consider wanting to ventilate your composting toilet system, if nothing else, because you really don't need anything malodorous hanging about your house like a cloud of human repellent. Do you have enough room for a ventilation shaft, or do you need to install an electric fan to help draw the air up from your composting toilet and out of your house?

To be more widely accessible as a post-design installation in the average bathroom, all Sun-Mar products are available in the colors “White” or “Bone”. Another innovation is to be able to install a “compact” unit on a boat, making it possible to compost even on water! Be sure to check out the Sun-Mar EXCEL, SPACESAVER, COMPACT, and CENTREX lines, guaranteed to suit most of your waste management needs. Being a very understanding company they have round-the-clock support, and you can even run your plans to install one of their products in your home by them, just in case you're not sure if you have the right kind of set-up for it. Think of it this way, if you already use solar power for most or all of your energy needs, then running an electric ventilation/heating system on a Sun-Mar composting toilet only racks you up more points for being a conscious human being who considers his or her impact on their world in every possible way.

Garden Composter

As far as millions of tons of useful, biodegradable waste being lost to landfills around the world every day goes, Sun-Mar's “Garden Composter”, available in two sizes, is an answer to this problem. There is absolutely no reason to let anything that we waste, particularly stuff that gets thrown out of our kitchens and gardens, to be just that – thrown out. No, if you're the type who looks at a banana peel on the kitchen counter with a scrunched up face, having to put on rubber gloves, and an oxygen mask just to consider picking it up and throwing it in the trash, then I'll admit that regular composting may not be for you. But, there's always the Sun-Mar Garden Composter, where you won't even need to make physical contact with whatever you're putting in once you've chopped it off of whatever you were trying to cook up and eat, or throw away because you forgot to pull it out of your fridge before it went bad. Seriously, once you throw something into the garden composter, it's just a matter of roll, roll, and roll some more until it breaks down completely and exits the system with yet another roll. The amazing thing about this garden composter is that it uses Sun-Mar's patented Double Drum technology which makes filling and emptying this garden composter a breeze. By simply rotating the drum regularly, and after each time you add some material to it, this technology uses nothing more than gravity and an inner drum to siphon completely biodegraded compost away from the rest of the garden and kitchen waste, and out of the composter.


To get you started with the whole process of composting, Sun-Mar sells a couple of Accessories that will help the waste in the drums of your Sun-Mar products begin to break down. Mostly a combination of helpful bacteria and other enzymes, there are also microbial mixes that you can purchase to get the composting rolling.

Trust me, from the ongoing composting experiments I've been running out back behind my kitchen, if it isn't the wet weather, it's the odd rodent or curious cat, and if not either of them, then a bunch of red ants will attack whatever I've left outside to compost. Last but not least, if I can't blame any other “critter” then I can only blame myself for setting up this composting experiment so that the only way to turn everything over is for me to put on elbow-length, super-reinforced, rubber gloves and dig in, like I was hand-tossing a salad. Made from durable plastic, the Sun-Mar Garden Composter would help solve these problems because it is pest and animal proof. It is also easy to assemble, so you don't need any technical expertise or a special degree just to think of buying one and setting it up at home. Besides these advantages, the circular, rotating drum design makes turning over the compost for better aeration and a more even breaking down a cinch. I'll wager that even people who live in apartments can make use of this garden composter, maybe the smaller of the two models, eventually being able to set up little terrace or balcony gardens that can yield a mini harvest of herbs and vegetables, thanks to their own fertilizer produced from their own kitchen waste. It's a dream, not at all a fantasy.

Where Can I Get One?

During its 25 years in operation, Sun-Mar has managed to establish a global network of dealers in several countries around the world. At the moment, the list of countries includes Argentina, Australia, Chile, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Panama, Puerto Rico, Russia, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Still, having established a global presence, it is my humble opinion that more isn't being done to promote products like the Sun-Mar Composting Toilet or the Sun-Mar Garden Composter worldwide, judging by the tremendous market potential that remains still untapped. Furthermore, as more and more developing nations find themselves faced with the added burden of having to deal with deteriorating environmental conditions in the face of their own socio-economic well-being, products like those offered by Sun-Mar will help them realize their potential, while helping them reduce the negative effects of this development on the environment. Whatever the level of living and the average lifestyle in the country, there is more than enough room for the people to invest in a Sun-Mar Composting Toilet or Garden Composter.

Take a look at their Dealer Network page if you are not in the US and wish to order a Sun-Mar product, or try out their Dealer Locator and see where the nearest available dealer is. If you don't find a store in your country, keep shipping and handling in mind when you try and figure out what the closest country to you is where an authorized dealer is located. In the meanwhile, feel free to browse the website , and if you feel stumped for choice, or otherwise unable to make up your mind, you're in luck. Sun-Mar has one of two ways for you to whittle your way down to the product that will work best for you, either by question process or by model selector.

For More Information...

Check out the Sun-Mar website, or better yet, check out this short video about their products on YouTube. Or, maybe you'd like to browse the FAQ page or request a free catalog online. This catalog is also available en Fran├žais, si vous voulez. If none of these strike you as possible next steps, then maybe you want to be like me and drop everything and write to the fabulous people at Sun-Mar asking them where they were all my life, or you could just call the toll-free number in the US (1-888-341-0782 ) to connect with someone and get started on doing your bit for the Environment. Happy “composting”!

Note: Images used by permission from Sun-Mar
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