Hipcamp Journal

How-to: Build A Compostable Toilet in Less Than 45 Minutes

Landsharing is a unique new way that allows landowners to monetize their land while keeping it undeveloped. However, more foot traffic equals more people which equals more, well, crap! Everyone poops and because of that, it can get messy out there. Even though you may be well-versed in the ways of properly pooping in the outdoors, to keep our habitats healthy every Hipcamp listing has to provide their campers with a bathroom option, and in many cases the best option is a compostable toilet. Let's do do it: leave no trace!

There's so much more to composting waste than this simple DIY post touches upon. To learn all about the goodness of making your own green throne, check out the Humanure Handbook.

DIY Compostable Toilet


  • 2 wood boards ¾” x 10” x 18” (sides of the box)
  • 2 wood boards ¾” x 10” x 19.5” (front and back of the box)
  • 1 plywood ¾” x 16.5” x 19.5” (top of the box)
  • 1 plywood ¾” x 3” x 19.5” (to be hinged to the top of the box and allow for bucket removal)
  • 4 wood boards ¾” x 3 x 12” (legs of the box)
  • 2 hinges
  • Standard toilet seat and cover
  • 5 gallon bucket

Material Costs: About $51 at Home Depot


  • Jigsaw
  • Circular saw
  • Screwdriver, drill or impact driver
  • About 15 screws
  • Wood glue
  • Assembly time: 35-40 minutes

Step 1:

Cut boards down to appropriate sizes if needed.

Step 2:

Assemble the box by screwing the sides of the box together. We used an impact driver, but any drill will work.

Pro tip: To increase the longevity of the box, use a line of wood glue everywhere wood is joined before drilling the screws into the wood. Also use a bit of wood glue to cover the screw tops and hold down any wood splinters caused from the screws.

Step 3:

Connect the two pieces of the top of the box together using the hinges.

Step 4:

Starting 1 ½” away from the front end of the top, trace the outline of the bucket.

This is will be the base of the toilet seat.

Step 5:

Screw the rear end of the top into the back of the box.

Pro tip: Once the box is more or less assembled, consider sanding the edges and corners for smoother surfaces and a more professional look.

Step 6:

Screw the legs into the box and make sure the top edge of the box sits about ½" below the top edge of the bucket--the top of the bucket must protrude through the box by about ½".

Adjust the legs accordingly to allow for the bucket protrusion.

Pro tip: You could also skip the 2x4s and use plywood legs to save about $6.

Step 7:

Using a jigsaw, cut along the traced circle and remove the inside of the circle.

Pro tip: Measure twice and cut once! We adjusted our seat depth when the box was coming together. Be sure to build to something you’ll be comfortable sitting on yourself.

Step 8:

Drill holes and attach the toilet seat to the top of the box.

And there you have it! Your very own compostable toilet:

Keep an extra bucket of sawdust with a scoop next to the toilet. Start with a small layer of sawdust at the bottom of the bucket, and then scoop a bit of sawdust into the bucket after each use. This will neutralize the scent. It’s ok to put toilet paper into the box, but food scraps will attract fruit flies, which will be unpleasant to experience when using the toilet!

Food scraps and other organic matter should be kept in a separate pale, but can and should be disposed of in the same compost pile as the human waste.

To create your own composting pile, you can start by using four palettes to create a large container for the organic matter. Extra barn materials or rafters can also do the trick.

Continue using sawdust on your composting pile to neutralize odors and speed up break down process. And make sure your composting pile receives full sunlight for further aid in breaking down waste.

If you know someone who has an amazing space they'd like to list on Hipcamp, you can get a $100 referral bonus. Or, if YOU have an awesome space you'd like to list we want to hear from you! Visit our landsharing page for all the details.

Happy camping!

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