If you missed World Toilet Day last November (we did) let us bring you up to date on the latest toilet trends.
Like everything else in your home and life, toilets are getting smarter, greener and equipped with more bells, whistles and high-tech doodads than you could ever imagine (like those models with sensors that automatically lift and close the lid when you approach and depart - fancy!).
The green evolution is always welcome because the humble old crapper is an environmental disaster area, what with all the water we waste flushing, the toilet paper clogging pipes and the cruddy sewage systems that destroy our waterways.
So designers are coming to the rescue, as they so often do, to make toilets better, especially when you consider that the average American uses over 100 gallons a day of water, a good portion of it flushed away.
Advances to consider the next time you buy a new toilet....
...the dual-flush model (one button for #1 and another for #2 with heavy duty flushing power); no-flush urinals in which a deodorizing block does all the work (yes, you can put one in your home); grey water recycling toilets which reroute waste water from a sink to supply flush power; composting toilets (little or no water used, but they can get funky if not properly ventilated); and water-efficient low-flush toilets (look for the EPA's WaterSense label).
And here's a new one that combines many of the above improvements and also saves space: Dang Jingwei's multitasking Home Core integrated toilet. This concept toilet (pictured below) features a sink that rotates out of the way when you need to go and can recycle runoff from the sink. Think of it as an eco-pod that conserves water as well as space.
It's a bit designer-y and I wonder if one day when you really gotta go you might forget to swing the sink away. But at least we have toilets and water, which brings us back to World Toilet Day.
You might not know it (not many people do) but more than 2.6 billion people on this here planet lack access to any proper sanitation facilities at all, including almost 1 billion children. That's why World Toilet Day (sounds weird, but it's very serious) was started, to make us aware that the lack of proper sanitation leads to the spread of germs and disease spread, often leading to death.
Let us ponder this problem. Not everyone can buy the Kohler Purish Hatbox toilet (striking minimalist design, but rather dear at $4,000) so how do we help the rest of the world find a safe and hygienic solution? You'd need to rebuild the entire infrastructure of many developing countries at an untold cost to at least supply people with water for sanitation.
In the meantime our well-meaning designers are coming up with ideas like the Peepoobag, which I have written about. It's an eco-friendly toilet-in-a-bag for those who live in places where the toilet is the street - an embarrassing and demeaning state of affairs, especially for women. You let the waste decompose in the bag and then use it for fertilizer. Doesn't exactly solve the problem but does offer some relief.
We're lucky to have the money and means to have toilet options. Think about that the next time you head to the loo.