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Nature’s way of taking care of business

Rachael Dell, of Little Green Dunny, says using a natural toilet is “simple”. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

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A Carterton couple is greening waste of a different kind with their new Little Green Dunny business.

Eight years ago, Matt and Rachael Dell moved to Carterton to build a strawbale home, complete with their own natural, composting toilet.

They met while studying ecology at university.

Composting toilets use natural processes of decomposition to break down human waste, producing ‘humanure’.

The heat generated kills the pathogens and means no water or chemicals are needed.

“We decided we could have the greatest impact on the health of the planet by living sustainably,” she said.

Having organised the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre’s Wairarapa Garden Tour for several years, Rachael was interested in finding a sustainable natural loo to hire for events.

“There wasn’t a lot of choice locally and so, in true kiwi style, we set about creating a loo solution to fill the gap,” she said.

Husband Matt was put to the task of developing a prototype.

“The thing about Matt is he is a great researcher who will find out how to do things.”

Some sustainably harvest pine, nails, corrugated iron, and untreated sawdust.

The first loos made their debut at last year’s Wings over Wairarapa event. The loos look a lot like old-fashioned long drops, with a pine frame containing a bench structure and 50L bin underneath.

A “discreet” hatch at the back makes for easy access to the bins when they need to be emptied or removed.

Untreated sawdust is added after each use, in place of flushing, to help promote aerobic decomposition and reduce odour.

The output is composted on site at their Carterton home – while this can’t be used to help fertilise food directly, it is used under trees in their orchard.

Rachael said using a natural loo helped reduce water consumption – as much as 12 litres per flush.

Though some people were cautious in their approach, the community response had been overwhelmingly hearty.

“Before launching the business, we put the idea to focus groups,” she said.

“People were really open to it. Given the choice between a chemical toilet and a natural loo, about 98 per cent said they would choose [the latter].

“The best thing about using a Little Green Dunny is knowing that your deposits return to the earth. No nasty chemicals, no waste.”

Rachael said the nature of the set up was scalable, adding, “if you’ve got 150 people coming, you just add more bins”.

The three loos, one of which is wheelchair accessible, had also been hired for a 40th birthday bash, as an interim toilet while bathroom renovations were completed, and an upcoming wedding event.

There had also been inquiries from people wanting to buy.

  • More information can be found online, at: facebook.com/pg/Little-Green-Dunny or littlegreendunny.co.nz.


  1. I’m interested and would like to know how much it would cost to build or does it come in a flat pack. Love to own one

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