Our well pump died on Saturday morning, and we had No Water until late Sunday afternoon. (And the water we have is still too rusty to be drinkable, but we're moving in the right direction anyway).
With six people, one bathroom, and no guarantee of water anytime soon, Saturday inspired me to build a Humanure Handbook-style sawdust toilet. (When DH used several gallons of our precious stored drinking water to flush the toilet once, I decided it was absolutely necessary to not let that kind of water waste happen again, under the circumstances!)
We had 5-gallon buckets (free from the co-op deli). We had a spare toilet seat from a partially-unfinished remodeling project; I carved down the plastic pads on the underside to make it fit the top of the bucket exactly. I happened to be driving out past the farm store that afternoon, so (in the absence of another quick sawdust source) I stopped and picked up a bale of pine shavings ($5 - a deal under the circumstances). Found a yogurt-sized recycled container for a scoop, and we had what we needed.
I filled up one bucket with pine shavings, put the scoop in it, and put a loose cover on it. I put the second bucket into a milk crate for stability, fitted the toilet seat on it, threw in an inch or so of pine shavings, and put both buckets side-by-side in the bathroom. When you use it, put in half a scoop of shavings for pee, and one or two whole scoops for poop (enough so that the next person can't tell what you did. LOL.) It worked really well.
Our family of six filled the bucket once a day (Sat-Sun and Sun-Mon). I dug a hole up in the woods, where the kids never play, and away from our well, and buried the bucket contents. If anything disturbs it, I'll lay a bit of chicken wire over the top with a big rock, but so far that hasn't happened.
Because we're planning to leave this house next year, we don't have a permanent compost site, or I would have dumped it there.
After dumping, I rinsed out the bucket and put it all back together for the next day.
I am so proud of myself. DH thought it was hilarious that I was so thrilled to have had the opportunity and reason to try it out. I assume we'll use this kind of toilet when we move onto our land, but in our suburban-style home it really seems out of place - until we have NO WATER. And then it was a godsend.
So, I will keep it stored away for power outages (no power = no well pump) and maybe we will even take it camping with us, for morning peeing and emergencies.
I don't know why I didn't make one sooner. We have power outages, but generally they don't last long. But, when they do, we always have the dilemma of what to do about the toilet. Problem solved! Had to share.