Monthly Archives: October 2015

A loo coup, a burning toilet, green room toilets and a space loo


Female parliamentarians protest while holding hair dryers and hair straighteners. (Pic from the Sydney Morning Herald)

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the so-called “Loo Coup” in the New South Wales parliament. Female parliamentarians are protesting the poor toilet facilities for women. Men have three showers on each floor, while women have one in the whole building and in the parliamentary gym (imagine a parliamentary gym! Imagine it!), the men’s facilities are described as palatial, while the women have a little dingy room with one sink. The male legislative council president said he was sympathetic, but building decent bathrooms for the women would cost $500,000, so it looks unlikely to happen.

The Marion Star carries a sad and bizarre story from Marion, Ohio. A three-year-old boy pushed his two-year-old brother’s head into the toilet while they were playing and flushed. The boy was burned by the water which was 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). The little boy is being treated in hospital. It transpired that the toilet had been hooked up to the home’s water heater and the landlord is now being investigated by the police.

Also in Ohio, the Columbus Dispatch reports on the green room facilities provided to Republican presidential primary candidates as they prepared for the candidates’ debate. Candidates were assigned green rooms according to the proportion of the vote they are currently getting in polls, so Donald Trump’s team got a conference room and Marco Rubio got a theatre, as they’re both polling well, but Chris Christie and Rand Paul, both of whom are polling very poorly were assigned bathrooms in which to prepare. No one loves a loser.


Trump’s green room on the left; Paul’s on the right. (Picture from @lacivitac on Twitter)

And finally to the International Space Station, where astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti gave a YouTube tour of the toilets in space. The toilet doesn’t look very toilet-y. But what freaks me out a little is the suction aspect. Because of the lack of gravity, suction is applied when you pee into a tube. The idea of pee being sucked out of me entirely freaks me out.


Toilets vs Smartphones, toilet politics, a waterless toilet and an instant bidet


The firefighters come to the rescue. (from Tigrigna)

We start with a story from last year that has resurfaced in my newsfeed from the Tigrigna site, all about a Chinese man who accidentally dropped his smartphone down the toilet and then reached down to get it back. Unfortunately, not only could he not reach his phone, but he got his arm stuck. This was a squat toilet, so he was essentially plunging his hand into a pit of poo. He was there for six hours until firefighters came, broke the tiles and the toilet and managed to extract him. It makes me queasy to even think about.

I don’t know a lot about Bhutan, but yesterday’s editorial in the Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel drew my attention to the politics of toilets there. The editor takes a stern tone on toilets, saying that even though locals don’t complain about them, tourists with US dollars frequently complained that there were no public toilet facilities and that they wouldn’t come back if this wasn’t changed. He concedes that if toilets were built for tourists, then they could also be used by Bhutanese, but in general, he takes a somewhat condescending tone with his fellow citizens, reproving them for the fact that they misuse the toilets they have, pointing to signs in public toilets reminding people to flush after themselves and  not to climb up and squat on Western-style toilets. It’s impossible for me not to feel some guilt as the West really has a massive array of ways of shaming the people of the developing world, infiltrating even how they view their own way of sitting on their toilets.

Staying in Asia, today’s Japan Times celebrates the launch of a new waterless toilet. It is not the first waterless biotoilet. However, it is the first one that deals satisfactorily with the smell of poo. By grinding your poo up with sawdust. It can be set up anywhere and its main use will be in emergencies like after a tsunami or an earthquake when it can be installed in a matter of minutes.

And our final story today also comes from Japan. Tushy was invented by a half-Japanese woman who had grown up with bidets and was disgusted by the American use of toilet paper. As she says, if a bird pooed on your face, you wouldn’t simply wipe it off with paper. You would wash it with water. Why are our bottoms any different? This was why she invented the Tushy, a clip-on bidet that makes any toilet Japanese.

The privilege of flushing, toilet twinning, poo-filled beards, arrested for using the wrong toilet and two-ply paper

Our first story today is one of poverty and bureaucracy. According to this story in New Zimbabwe, the local council in Chipinge is destroying pit latrines in suburban areas. They claim to be doing this for hygiene reasons. However, residents argue that the council does not provide them with enough running water to use indoor toilets in a hygienic way and therefore the pit latrines are essential. If writing this blog is teaching me one thing, it’s a constant reminder about the privilege of flushing.

news_bEco Pit latrine Malawi

A pit latrine – picture from New Zimbabwe

The Bath Chronicle is running a good news story about “toilet twinning”. A primary school in Bath has raised £900 to twin their school toilets with toilets in Chad. Luckily, the money will go towards providing water, as well as building toilets. If you like the idea of toilet twinning, or your community/employers/school would be interested, have a look at

One thing you might not want to twin a toilet with is a beard, but the news that took the hipster world by storm this summer is still doing the rounds of the internet. According to this Vuz video, beards have more germs than toilets and can be full of poo particles. Ugh.

In today’s Daily Sabah, there is a report about a Vienna to Abu Dhabi flight that made an unscheduled landing in Turkey because the air crew had arrested a passenger. A 60-year-old Slovak woman became ill during the flight. When she found that the economy class toilet was occupied, she used the business class one, over the objections of business class passengers and staff. “When she came out, she was confronted by the pilot, several stewardesses and business class passengers. An argument ensued and Kmetova was handcuffed and the plane requested to land in Ankara.” When she landed, she was escorted off the plane and the pilot refused to take her to her destination even though she couldn’t afford another flight. In the end, the airport night manager got her a night in a hotel and a ticket with another airline to Abu Dhabi. He said, “some Europeans see Turks as barbarians but at the end of the day, it was the Europeans who treated others poorly.”

Finally, in a truly happy story, and I think my favourite toilet story since I started this blog a whole week ago, comes from The Diamondback, the student newspaper of the University of Maryland. After months of student advocacy, the UMD dorms are to pilot a scheme where they will provide 2-ply toilet paper instead of 1-ply toilet paper. The university currently spends about $74,500 a year on toilet paper, and the change will add about $23,000 in expenses. “Part of it is offset by the fact that people don’t need as much [two-ply toilet paper], but we’re not sure what that means for the budget,” McGee [UMD’s assistant director for building services] said. “We are kind of guessing that it is 50 percent more cost overall, but we’re not sure.” Do you use 50% less of two-ply toilet paper than 1-ply paper? Let me know!


This is what 2-ply paper looks like in a UMD dorm. Photo from the Diamondback.

A sleepy fan, an economist’s bladder, responsible protestors and toilets filled with interesting ideas

A team of firefighters were called to Barnsley FC when an alarm was activated by a man standing on the roof of a portakabin at the grounds on Saturday. The Daily Star reports that the man had fallen asleep on the toilets at half time. He had had “a few beers” and woke up seven hours after the match ended (Barnsley lost) and found the entire stadium locked up and in darkness. He climbed on top of a portakabin to seek help and found that he couldn’t get down. The Star interviewed a firefighter who said, “He had no shoes on and had lost his mobile phone and his hat. He was more bothered about his hat though. He seemed a smartly dressed lad.”

The Bangor Daily News (Bangor in Maine, not Bangor in Wales or Bangor in Northern Ireland) ran this blogpost by a retired economist who is infuriated by the lack of public toilet facilities in Maine now that his bladder is ageing. He posits that the new state motto should be “Maine – Just hold it!” He goes on to list various day trip destinations from Bangor and ranks them according to the quality and/or presence of their toilet facilities. He only gives the I-95 southbound on Newport an F. Apparently you would need to a trained guide to find a toilet there. On the other hand, he gives Schoodic Point an A grade, claiming that the toilet facility there “makes winter visits a treat for locals and tourists alike”, which is wonderful, but seems like an exaggerated importance on the value of toilets, and that’s coming from an actual toilet blogger.


Portable toilet on fire at the Fees Must Fall protest. (Picture from eNCA)

eNCA reports on students from South Africa, who are currently holding the largest protests in the country since the end of Apartheid in 1994. According to this report the student campaign “Fees must fall” has been remarkable for being so peaceful, in spite of its size. The writer of the story is impressed with the behaviour of the student protestors, who have been seen cleaning up after their protests and even organising study groups during the protests. When some portable toilets were damaged in one of the protests, some of the students even started a campaign to fundraise to pay for the damage done to the toilets, which you can donate to here.

Finally today, we look to that always satisfying source of toilet-related news, Japan, where the Japan News reports on the winner of the Japanese Toilet Grand Prix, which is run by the national government and apparently rewards “toilets filled with interesting ideas”.  The winning toilet was at Shinseiwadai Kindergarten in Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture, where, according to the article “small children frolicked with delight”. The toilet “features an objet d’art in the shape of an apple tree about one meter in diameter. Its branches stretch up to the ceiling, where a blue sky has been drawn. When the kindergartners enter the space, a sensor activates a cat, elephant and giraffe and music begins playing.” I have added it to my must-see list of toilets.


The winning kindergarten toilet (Picture from the Japan News).

Unflushable flushables, frozen poo and a toilet of terror

Swindon is facing huge bills in order to pay for clearing sewage blockages, according to this report in the Swindon Advertiser. Since the start of 2015, more than double the number of blockages had to be cleared in comparison to the whole of 2010 and Thames Water is blaming wet wipes, putting out a plea for toilet users not to flush sanitary towels, wet wipes or cotton wool down the toilet. Even if they’re marketed as flushable, it doesn’t mean that they’ll break down. Apparently most domestic sewage pipes only have the “diameter of a cricket ball”, so they’re very easy to block, and the number of sewage floods is on the rise. And apparently there are “sewage flood hotspots” in the SN2 and SN3 postcodes. It doesn’t bear thinking about. In case you haven’t got the message yet, here’s a picture.


Sludgy sewage – think before you flush! (Pic from the Swindon Advertiser)

In other gross news, the Metro reports on a “frozen poo bomb”. A plane flying over a house in Wiltshire released a frozen ball of urine and poo into the air and it came crashing through the roof. Luckily no one was injured, although there is now a hole in the roof. “Keith, 70, said: ‘On our insurance forms do we put “house hit by frozen urine and poo”… will they believe us?’”


The offending poo bomb. (Picture from the Metro)

And to finish, yet another terrifying picture, this time from Gawker. This is a toilet in a luxury apartment in Guadalajara, Mexico. It has a glass floor sitting on top of an old fifteen-storey elevator shaft. I wouldn’t be able to unclench. f3d9eb664f7118fb82ec6ec12c756554

Toilet Police, toilet-to-tap, blocked toilets, and self-folding toilet paper


A road sign proudly welcomes visitors to India’s first open defecation free district – Nadia (from the Wall Street Journal)

We start with another story from India, where the government’s campaign to have every household supplied with an indoor toilet has one notable success story being reported in the Wall Street Journal.

In March 2013, one in three households in the Nadia District did not have an indoor toilet. In less than two years, the local government built over 350,000 toilets. And even though everyone now has access to a toilet, the Wall Street Journal reports that the practice of open defecation has not died out, partly because some Indians believe it is unsanitary to defecate in the home where you live and eat, and groups of local voluntary “toilet police” are now regulating this issue, photographing offenders, and publicly displaying these photos in the case of repeat offences. It’s a fascinating story about one of the biggest changes happening in the world today, well worth reading.

While India may be short of toilets, California is short of water. NBC reports on the LA water district’s plans for a “toilet to tap” programme. California is currently in its fourth successive year of drought and the city of LA imports most its water from other parts of the US, and so the plan is to copy Texas and to start recycling human wastewater for the purposes of consumption. It may sound unappealing, but all water is recycled anyway. I always find it best not to think about what it is recycled from.

On the other side of the US, an Atlantic City casino found its toilets blocked by a fraudster. NewsMax is running this story about a man who smuggled fake casino chips into a poker tournament. When the man was in danger of being discovered, he flushed $2.7 million worth of fake chips down the toilet in the casino hotel, causing a “blockage”. Not only must he now pay the casino for the losses when they had to cancel the tournament, the court also ordered him to pay $9455 for plumbing costs to the hotel.

Japanese toilets are famous for their use of technology – warmed seats, toilets that play music when you pee, toilets that spray your bum clean and blow it dry. RocketNews reports on a Japanese toilet paper dispensing machine, which will dispense clean sheets of toilet paper, without any need for you to touch the toilet paper holder. Bewilderingly, it also folds the paper into a point. I suppose it makes it easier to make a toilet paper aeroplane so you can send messages to the occupants of other cubicles.


The dispenser – pic from RocketNews

Finally today, a wonderful vine from @colinchadwick (You’d be surprised at how many interesting hits you get when you search the hashtag #toiletvine).

Indian teachers, Ghanaian latrines, English toilets for English voters and a sexist door

You can’t be a toilet-blogger in 2015 and not write about India, where a sanitation revolution is happening at the moment. As the government there battles to install indoor toilets and to persuade people of the value of indoor sanitation, my daily toilet newsfeed is thronged with stories of India, and the new toilet policy’s successes and failures.

In today’s The Hindu, a story reports on teachers and toilets in the Vijayapura district. Of the 16,000 teachers in the district, 2,000 do not have a toilet in their home. The district-in-charge minister is worried by this news. Apparently, teachers are responsible for encouraging students to build indoor toilets and they cannot do this if they are not building their own toilets. Apparently, the fact that the government grant for installing indoor toilets is smaller in urban areas (about 5,000 rupees) than in rural districts (about 15,000 rupees) and so the take-up in cities is not as good as was hoped.

According to Graphic Online, measures are being taken in Ghana to address the same problem. A story there outlines the scale of the problem in a country where only 15% of people use “improved household toilet facilities” and “open defecation” is a frequent problem. The government has instructed district assemblies to deal with the problem on a local level and apparently this has led to many communities deciding to build “communal latrines”, rather than toilets in individual houses “following on from our traditions”. It is reported that this has led to little improvement in the open defecation situation as people are unwilling to walk to the communal facilities at night time and provision is rarely being made to keep these latrines clean.

The article does have a bright side, however, describing “fecal entrepreneurs” who are like the alchemists of old, turning shit into gold, by building and servicing communal and household toilets all over the country.

On a lighter note,, reports on the situation in the Westminster parliament, where the devolution of power to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies means that for the first time, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs are excluded from Westminster votes on matters that only effect England. One such vote was occurring on Thursday evening, when a Welsh MP ventured to use the parliamentary toilets. He tweeted:

Ian Lucas tweet

Finally today, a photo of some sexist toilet doors that were causing a storm on reddit today. Feel the rage.