Harry Appel, owner of Deer Run Bed Breakfast in Big Pine Key, saves thousands of gallons of water annually via his compost toilets.
He explains it as a "brainless solution for any property owner."
"The average person flushes their toilet 15 times a day," Appel said. "Most toilets use a gallon and a half of water per flush. Mine use less than a pint."
The green-minded business owner has compost toilets in each of his three luxury units at his vacation getaway, which drastically reduce water and sewage usage at the B B.
"I save about 8,000 gallons of water a month using this system," Appel said.
He would have liked to completely avoid hooking up to central sewer, but his compost system is only for toilet waste.
Envirolet, the manufacturer of Appel's compost toilets, also makes a machine to compost "gray water." That's the relatively clean wastewater from sinks, baths, washing machines and kitchen appliances.
That machine is approved in nearly every state except Florida, according to Appel.
Composting happens naturally outdoors when plant matter falls to the ground and decomposes and evaporates, transforming into clean, fertile soil and water.
Human waste also composts organically, with any harmful pathogens and viruses destroyed in the bacterial breakdown, according to envirolet.com.
Odor and sanitation are not issues for these toilets, Appel said, and he's never had a guest complain about the restrooms.
"If anything, the guests are so fascinated with how little water is in the toilets; they flush them too much," he said.
The structure does require a small amount of maintenance, but Appel said it's nothing complicated or time consuming.
"Once a week I pull the lever to stir everything up," Appel said. "The biggest problem with adopting this system is not corporations, but people. We want to flush and forget about it."
Every year, he dries the peat moss that comes out of the machine and puts it back in to continue the organic process. At larger facilities, such as campgrounds, parks and resorts, maintenance workers can easily handle the task, Appel said.
"The water saved pays for the system."
If the system was not in the best interest of Mother Nature, Appel said he wouldn't have used it in his "green" lodge.
The owners also make and serve only vegan food, use EnergyStar appliances, reclaimed furniture and organic cotton linens, among other stipulations.
The resort produces minimal waste and is Florida's first location to be Platinum Certified by TripAdvisor, the travel website. There was a lot of paperwork needed to get the certification, but for Appel it was worth it, as green has been his way of life for a long time.
"I started painting for Maaco in the first years it started out, and I remember coughing up blood from all the chemicals I was breathing in," said Appel. "From then on I wanted to make as little impact as possible."
Alex Press, an intern with The Citizen, is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.