Or is it actually good for you?
So many people have their drawers in a knot over the Standard Toilet, a new design that tilts the top of the toilet down 13 degrees. In the UK, Metro titles their toilet tale Torturous new tilted toilet lets sadistic bosses stop workers from enjoying long loo breaks. The Mail writes Say goodbye to comfort breaks! New downward-tilting toilets are designed to become unbearable to sit on after five minutes. Wired craps on it with The corporate poo patrol is coming after your precious toilet time. According to Wired, it was developed by an engineer, Mahabir Gill, who was frustrated by how long people spend on the toilet.
When you look at the Standard Toilet website, it does start off with a statement about how much time is wasted by workers sitting on the toilet. "It is estimated that in the United Kingdom alone, extended employee breaks costs industry and commerce an estimated £4 billion per annum."
It was inspired by a series of annoyances. As a consulting engineer for 40 years, Gill sometimes discover workers asleep on the toilet, and in his free time, was increasingly annoyed by queues for public toilets. The final straw came while he was shopping in a department store the morning after a particularly heavy night out, and in desperate need for a toilet, could only find locked cubicles. Thus, the idea for the StandardToilet was born.
But why do people spend so much time on the toilet? Is it because "workplace toilet has become private texting and social media usage space" or because they don't work? Since our bodies are not designed to evacuate our waste when we are sitting, we often have to sit there long enough for our anal sphincters to relax and our colon to do its job in this unnatural position. According to Vincent Ho of Western Sydney University, studies have shown that we poop much more quickly when we squat.
Israeli researcher Dov Sikirov studied 28 healthy volunteers who were asked to record how long their bowel motions took and how difficult their efforts were. The volunteers sat on toilets of different heights (42cm and 32cm high) and also squatted over a plastic container. They recorded data for six consecutive bowel motions in each posture. The average time for passing a bowel motion during squatting was 51 seconds, compared to the average times for the lower and higher toilet seats: 114 and 130 seconds respectively. Participants found defaecation easier while squatting than when seated.
As Daniel Lametti explained in our earlier post on the subject:
People can control their defecation, to some extent, by contracting or releasing the anal sphincter. But that muscle can't maintain continence on its own. The body also relies on a bend between the rectum--where feces builds up--and the anus--where feces comes out. When we're standing up, the extent of this bend, called the anorectal angle, is about 90 degrees, which puts upward pressure on the rectum and keeps feces inside. In a squatting posture, the bend straightens out, like a kink ringed out of a garden hose, and defecation becomes easier.
Studies have shown that squatting almost eliminates hemorrhoids, that bowel movements take half as long, and that evacuations are more complete. So yes, it is true that it is not as comfortable as sitting on a flat toilet and you do get off more quickly, but that is a good thing. And if you wonder why animals don't need toilet paper and people do, it's because when you squat instead of sit, the poop doesn't all fall out naturally.
And now, because of the obesity crisis and the aging population, people are buying "comfort height" toilets at 17" high instead of 14", just exacerbating the problem, increasing the risk of constipation and discomfort.
Everyone is calling the Standard Toilet evil, a tool of "evil jerks who are trying to take away your precious bathroom time by rolling out slanted toilets that force you to dump faster at work." Perhaps your bosses do want you to take less time, but so does your body.
When you look on BoingBoing today, what are they selling? Give your gut a break with this adjustable toilet stool. "When it comes to bathroom breaks, do you struggle to stay... 'regular'? You're not alone. Most people don't use the toilet correctly, for the simple reason that toilets in the western hemisphere aren't actually designed to make eliminations as easy as they could be." So they are peddling a footstool that does exactly what the Standard Toilet does – put you into a squat position.
The Standard Toilet inventor is going to sell a lot more toilets and get a lot more exposure by framing it as a way of increasing employee efficiency and reducing queuing; and frankly, just raising the back to get the tilt is not the way to be doing this. It is the cheap solution of raising the back instead of lowering the front. 400 mm or 16" at the front is way too high. (See Alexander Kira's design from the 60s.) Maybe in this case he really cares more about the time spent than the health benefits, but the fact is, squatting is healthier, cleaner, and faster.