Humanure at Falls Festival

Over the three days of Falls Festival the population of Marion Bay in Tasmania increases by about 12,000 people to party, dance, eat and poop.

There are about 200 composting toilets at the festival, with 500 bins rotated over the three days.

“At the end of it we’ve got an industrial load of human waste,” Loo Crew manager Erik Hayward said.

“We process it here. Nothing leaves the site.”

A man with a beard, wearing a blue tshirt and sunglasses on top of his head standing in front of a blue background

Each year the festival produces between five and eight tonnes of human waste which is kept to compost.

“It decomposes for a couple of years so by the time we touch it it’s fresh, clean, safe humanure,” Mr Hayward told Helen Shield on ABC Radio.

The loos at Marion Bay Falls Festival are scented with lavender to keep them fresh, and this year the lavender used has been grown on site using the humanure.

Red sign saying night farm with rolling green hills behind it

“We’ve used soil from people going to the toilet and created lavender for people to put back into the toilets,” Mr Hayward said.

“Have you ever been to one of our toilets? They’re incredible.

“Compared to porta-loos I can guarantee that they’re much, much more friendly for your everyday person who’s used to flushing down their waste every day.”

Freshly harvested lavender has been bunched together to be hung in the cubicles and the chaff has been added to the sawdust used in the toilets.

Woman in a hat with blonde dreads sticking out the top picking lavender

As well as the lavender grown from humanure, the festival site is dotted with wicking beds of brightly coloured flowers.

The wicking beds are made from old pontoons, used carpet and other recycled materials plus humanure to grow the flowers.

“Colourful flowers, made into seating, so people can enjoy sitting around their last year’s deposits,” Mr Hayward said.

Dried lavender in bunches in a black plastic box

The wicking beds and lavender are reminders to festival patrons of the ethos of reducing and reusing as much as possible, site manager Patrick Beveridge said.

“It’s a bit of an educational thing too, because we have a lot of young people come to the festival,” he said.

“It’s just really important for them to understand all about the environment and the kind of things we can do to develop and move forward as a good range of people.”

Plants growing in a raised garden bed

As well as keeping all the human waste on site to be treated and reused, all the waste water from the toilets, showers, catering areas and drinking stops is also kept.

“One hundred per cent of our [water] waste stays here on site and gets treated on site,” Mr Beveridge said.

“It’s really important that we minimise truck trips … just lessening our footprint as much as we can.”

A man wearing a blue tshirt with dark sunglasses on in a bush setting

Mr Beveridge said the festival used as much recycled and upcycled resources as possible throughout to show what could be done with old materials.

“If you can save something from going into landfill, that is the best form of environmentally friendly impact,” he said.

“It’s saving it from going into a place it can never come back from.”

Close up of the flowers of blooming lavender growing