World Toilet Day was yesterday, but you can still send your favorite swirly around to amuse, offend, or motivate others.
Forgive me for my potty language, but this post just asks for it.
For most of us, assuming you're reading this on an internet-connected device with the nearest bathroom probably just yards away, a toilet is no big deal. You pay your monthly water and sewer bill, do your business, hit the flush lever, and wash your hands of the whole thing until nature calls again. There's no stress over wondering where you'll be able to relieve yourself tomorrow or the next day, and there's no worries over cleanliness, as potable water and soap is usually just a step away from the toilet. And that's awesome.
Having adequate sanitation facilities has done a world of good for human health, and kept both kids and adults in the developed world safe from common ailments that are still deadly in the developing world, such as diarrhea. Yes, diarrhea. It kills 315,000 children under the age of 5 each year, mostly due to lack of sanitary facilities and safe water where they live. All told, some 2.3 billion people on this planet still don't have access to adequate sanitation, accounting for about one third of the total population on Earth.
I find that to be a travesty. We already know how to build toilets of all kinds, from the high-tech urine-recycling toilet for space travel to a low-tech humanure/composting versions, and everything in between. We know that poop has value, both as a fertilizer (as does urine), and can be used to produce a fuel as well (biogas), and can be a valuable local resource instead of a waste to be disposed of. (Of course, we in the city still flush our toilets into the sewer mains, along with all of our greywater, but that's another topic for another day.)
So it's not exactly like we need a moonshot on this issue, and have to develop a brand new technology, but rather, what's usually called for, in order to implement these sanitation options for remote areas, is something a lot more basic - funding.
Without the distribution of the knowledge and materials and guidance for building a sanitary toilet, as well as the cultivation of a level of ownership and maintenance for the facility, even the best intentioned efforts can fail. However, one organization that is making a difference in both clean water and toilet access is WaterAid, and its goal of enabling "safe sanitation for everyone, everywhere by 2030" requires a significant amount of resources, in the form of both time and money
And it being the internet in 2015, what better way to start a conversation and raise awareness (and donations) than by using humor? How about using humor with emojis? OK, what about using poop emojis? That might get people's attention.
Well, urine luck, because WaterAid is doing exactly that, with its Emoji Creator app that enables its users to create their own poop emojis and then share them with their friends.
Go learn how you can give a shit. You know you want to.
And if you're in New York this weekend (Nov 20-22, 2015), you can visit The Shit Show, a "group exhibition by some of today’s most innovative artists" at 103 Norfolk St, New York, NY 10002.