How sweet it is
Personal refuse simply refuses to wait in summer

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Apr 14/00) - Warning: if you're eating breakfast right now, skip to the next story.

If simplicity is perfection, there are few things more perfect than honey buckets.

Many of those living free of the tyranny of the city sewer system rely on honey buckets on a daily basis.

"Seeing the problems some people have had with frozen pipes and things like that, spending two minutes a week emptying a honey bucket is not a big deal," said bucket user Cynthia Brown. "I don't know why people get all hung up about it."

For the uninitiated, 'honey' is the euphemism given to the stuff that, in a conventional toilet, would get flushed.

A honey bucket is a bucket with a garbage bag liner that sits in another bucket with a toilet seat on top. When the bucket's full, simply lift the bag out and tie it very, very tightly.

The city does a weekly honey bag pickup. Those on the Ingraham Trail and on houseboats must take their bags to a disposal site off Highway 3.

Brown had just two words of advice to honey bucket rookies - "double bag."

Old Town resident Helene Voyer said she had no problem getting used to her honey bucket. Voyer said honey buckets beat flush toilets hands down where reliability is concerned.

"Once my honey bucket was full, like totally full, and I didn't have time to change it," said Voyer. "I just ran like crazy to a real toilet and, afterward, when I went to flush it, it overflowed!"

For those off the sewage grid, there are alternatives to honey bags - mini-sewage treatment plants, toilets that incinerate everything that goes into them and composting toilets.

Ingraham Trail resident Hendrick Falck and his family rely on a composting toilet.

"It's kind of like a septic tank toilet without the tank portion," said Falck. "You throw in peat and composting accelerator. At the end of the process you have a much more soil-like substance than what went in."

Falck made the move to composting after a few years of having to deal with a sceptic tank that froze each winter, leaving him to deal with a 200 kilogram block of ... well, let's just say it made emptying honey buckets seem like a piece of cake.