It's totally crazy. Here in the 21st century, 14 percent of the world have no access to a proper toilet and have to just go outside in the open. More people have mobile phones than have access to a toilet. Millions of children die from diarrheal causes, 88 % of which are caused by lack of access to sanitation and clean water.
That's why we have World Toilet Day, to draw attention to this issue. This year has a special theme:
Equality and dignity is the theme of World Toilet Day 2014. The campaign will inspire action to end open defecation and put spotlight on how access to improved sanitation leads to a reduction in assault and violence on women and girls. Having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity. Women and girls risk rape and abuse as they wait until night falls because they lack of access to a toilet that offers privacy.
Learn more about World Toilet Day . Meanwhile, here is a roundup of our recent coverage on toilets:
From peeing in your compost to making fuel (or drinking water!), some of this stuff has been covered before. But there are some new uses here too. Apparently Ancient Roman spies, for example, used to use pee as invisible ink—originating the phrase "read between the lines". Other uses include cleaning your garden paving, reviving the color of your garden furniture, or making glue to fix broken metal.
More in TreeHugger: Recycle your urine to make invisible ink, and other fascinating uses for pee
Writing in the Guardian, I look at the development of the bathroom and summarize many of the points covered over the years in TreeHugger, and note:
We mix up all our bodily functions in a machine designed by engineers on the basis of the plumbing system, not human needs. The result is a toxic output of contaminated water, questionable air quality and incredible waste. We just can’t afford to do it this way any more.
More in TreeHugger: Why the modern bathroom is such a wasteful, unhealthy design and the Guardian
I have twenty-five years of experience with alternative toilets, but have never looked seriously at the bucket and sawdust toilet as a viable alternative. In fact, re-reading Joe Jenkins' Humanure Handbook after many years, I began to appreciate the logic and sophistication of this solution.
More in TreeHugger: The hot poop on alternative toilets, Tiny house edition
I have never been fond of the super-high-tech toilets like the winner of the Reinvent the Toilet contest In summary, this toilet is not about dealing with poop, it is about dealing with the water that carries the poop, about separating poop from the water medium, and then turning the poop into fertilizer, which it pretty much is if you compost it without adding the water in the first place. Now they have made it even worse.
More in TreeHugger: Is this the toilet of the future?
Almost every book you read on the history of the toilet talks about, well, the toilet. In fact, the actual object is almost trivial; otherwise everyone would have one instead of one third of the world going without. The problem is what it is connected to, both its input and its output. In honor of World Toilet Day, here is a history of the toilet in its milieu, the bathroom.
More in TreeHugger: The History of the Bathroom, revisited