21 Nov 2018

Five toilet truths you need to know

Written by Madeline Shaw

Picture this. You are a business manager having a bad day. There is a toxic dispute happening between two staff members. Your sales are down. You have one hour to complete your end of year report and your business premises don’t have a toilet.

It’s a brisk walk down the stairs, out of the office, down an alleyway, across a hot, busy street and upstairs to the real estate office of your brother’s wife. It’s 40 degrees. Will you make it? 

That story might seem unlikely. You might be thinking “wouldn’t a businessperson have a toilet?”

According to the United Nations, 60% of the global population either have no toilet or one that doesn’t safely manage excreta! That’s 4.5 billion people worldwide without access to safe sanitation.

The UN World Toilet Day is coming up on 19 November to raise awareness of access to sanitation and they are starting off by flying a great big inflatable toilet.

  1. Toilets keep our water clean

 This article might have inspired you to think already – where does my poo go? Sort that question out right here. So basically it gets cleaned up and goes into the water somewhere or into the ground. Obviously, the cleaner the better. Untreated faeces is a dangerous contaminant of water. One billion people in the world defecate in open spaces – a sustainability nightmare!

  1. Toilets keep us healthy

Cholera, typhoid, infectious hepatitis, polio, cryptosporidiosis and ascariasis – they sound terrible and they are. These are the diseases that can be reduced by the provision of proper sanitation. Bring on World Toilet Day and make them a thing of the past.

 Australian dentist Sandra Meihubers is committed to the provision of sanitation for a different reason – teeth. How can you expect someone to clean their teeth twice a day is they don’t have access to safe toilets that are keeping the drinking water clean, she asks.

  1. Toilets keep women and girls safe

It’s a no-brainer. Homes with no toilet make women and girls vulnerable. So much so that one family in India would not let their daughter marry unless her fiancee’s family agreed to build a toilet in the house. And they did. Meet the bride!

Toilets provide both dignity and safety for women and the more private the toilet the better. Shared toilets, which might improve sanitation in a village or town, do not necessarily improve safety for women and girls.

  1. Why have a study when you’ve got a toilet?

WaterAid Australia is big on education based on the fact that the average person spends eight hours on the toilet per month. So why not study? Take your pick from a range of toilet posters including the Periodic Table and Global citizenship!

 It’s not just in the first world that toilets improve education. Having a toilet at home saves time for school children. They can have a slower start to the day without the need to walk to a toilet and one which might be in public view.  They have more time to study and relax – both key factors in education.

  1. Everybody needs time out

Of course the best thing about a toilet is you just get to sit quietly by yourself for a few minutes. Isn’t that a human right?

By the way, that business manager – still walking…

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Madeline Shaw

About Madeline Shaw

Madeline Shaw is a writer and editor. She specialises in education and legal writing, well-being and the environment. Her other love is writing short stories.

View all posts by Madeline Shaw