The planet celebrated World Toilet Day on November 19, and many people in Belize decided to contribute pictures, stories, and information on social media about the restroom facilities found throughout the country.
As a rural country, many homes in Belize are very simple, and that includes the bathrooms of their houses. While the word “outhouse” often conveys a sense of horror to some people, they are quite prevalent in certain areas of Belize, including on beautiful offshore islands.
In areas where there are no municipal sewer networks, outhouses are often a viable choice. And while they conjure up images of insect-infested, smelly, and uncomfortable toilets, outhouses can often be a very “green” and pleasant way to dispose of human waste.
Many villagers in Belize live in simple homes and their lifestyle has changed little over the centuries, including their restroom facilities. But when constructed and executed properly, the simple outhouse can efficiently recycle human waste in a sustainable way.
For outhouses that serve the public, mixing waste with organic material renders everything odor-free. Furthermore, the mixture can then be composted and returned to the soil, a very “green” alternative to relying on toxic chemicals and expensive portable toilets that are often used in wealthier countries when municipal sewage connections are not available.
Of course, not every home or business or resort in Belize uses outhouses. Many homes, hotels, lodges, and resorts have ordinary, modern flush toilets just like you’d find in the United States or Canada. And while these offer visitors an accustomed comfort, waste disposal is an integral part of protecting and conserving nature.
Since gaining independence in 1981, Belize has made tremendous strides in improving infrastructure, including sewage lines, flush toilets, and water treatment plants. But in rural, isolated, or offshore locations, sometimes the best option can be a simple outhouse, relying on nature’s bounty to do the recycling and composting in a way that has functioned well for thousands of years.
Visitors to Belize can expect adventure, and part of that experience is seeing and using different kinds of bathrooms, including outhouses. But instead of fearing what it might entail, visitors should keep an open mind and realize that sometimes, an outhouse is safer, cleaner, and more efficient than a modern flush toilet.