Toilet Tour

Aug 27, 2012


Deborah Phillips
Communications Officer


Where else but a Toilet Fair could one encounter an evening of stimulating conversation… about poop? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation proudly presented the chance to mingle with some of the most innovative, creative minds applying their intellectual heft to the world's sanitation problem. Here we share our impressions and take you on a vicarious visual tour of the engineers who answered the call of Gates' Re-invent the Toilet Challenge.



Yum! Tiger worms are experts at chowing on trash to digest and turn it into compost, and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is bringing them to bear on human waste.



The Tiger Toilet (seen here in prototype) would hold up to 1,000 worms, with human waste and natural fibers creating a viable ecosystem throughout the worm's lifecycle. The worms digest 95% of the waste, which then would become fertilizer, supporting agriculture throughout the local community.



Hygiene translates in any language. Educational books and videos teach kids about the importance of sanitation.



From waste product to clean water. The VUNA project is testing reactors that nitrify, distill, precipitate, and electrolyze urine, turning waste into resources. The ultimate result? Fertilizer and distilled water. (VUNA partners include eThekwini Municipality in Durban, South Africa; the University of KwaZulu-Natal; the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology; and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.)



Another team at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal is working on a toilet that will separate human waste from other garbage thrown in, to facilitate processing into fertilizer. They're also researching what gets thrown into latrines and toilets in low-resource areas so they can better design their separating toilet. As one researcher said, “What goes into the toilet is, right now, a black hole of data.”



In WASH United, we found kindred spirits. They're determined to use fun, positive messages, paired with soccer and cricket stars, to get kids excited about hygiene and sanitation. In October, their Great WASH Yatra will feature a travelling carnival that will cross the country over 45 days with games and Bollywood performances that highlight handwashing, clean water, and safe sanitation. Score!



The World Toilet Organization spreads a serious message… but they can never resist a little potty humor. We loved these stickers that were slyly hidden on a staircase!


Forty percent of the global population has nowhere to privately and safety go to the bathroom. Disgusting, right? If you want to add your voice to call for safer sanitation, talk sh*t with your own communities today!