Thinking of Toilets

The famous Bill Gates shared a post recently on LinkedIn that the reinvented toilets are a part of 6 billion dollars annual opportunity for companies that are first to market. And also that they have a potential to save millions of lives. Impressive, huh?

Thinking of toilets:

In recent times, for myriad reasons, toilets have found a huge fan base. They seem to inspire/break love stories

and marriages. In India, popular bollywood movies are produced on this topic.

Now Bill Gates is quoting that the new toilets will save humanity. Iam sure Bill is trying to help a good cause here.

In India, talented Vidya Balan(Indian movie actress) has been reminding everyone on TV and movie halls about toilets in Hindi language saying “Jahan Soch, Wahan Souchalay”. 🙂

Toilets seem to have been churning more thoughts inside our brains than they were needed after churning of food in our stomachs.

On a more serious note, I think we need to start differentiating the real needs from the popular sentiments in this issue.

Toilets are a huge price we are already paying as a civilization with “rapid urbanization” in the world.

Solutions for cities and villages got to be different and focused on the specific needs instead of blind copy.

For obvious lifestyle reasons, urban toilets are designed mainly for comfort and hygiene than personal health and ecosystem.

People living in urban cities have no other option than build toilets in each home so that the human waste is not out there on the concrete streets causing inconvenience and spreading diseases.

Urban areas do need proper sewage and drainage systems. Or maybe the new electrical incinerators or some other fancier solutions. Irrespective, we do need to get that shit out of our way because it has no other way to get out.

But we perhaps need to look at villages in a different way.

Human waste is a natural locally available compost useful for the ecosystem in those villages. It may even help reduce use of chemical fertilizers.

Idea of people going to a near by agricultural-field to relieve themselves isn’t necessarily always a bad or shameful thing. It may indeed be a very noble cause in being part of and contributing to the ecosystem.

We can use world’s largest incinerator (Sun) and the earthen outfield if planned properly by village administration. Many varieties of insects and scavengers also ensure this completely biodegradable stuff goes out sooner.

Obviously we need toilets in villages for those who truly need it, like old and infirm. Including, for use at nights or whenever convenience and safety demands that they need to use a toilet.

Obviously these days we hear the added threat for ladies going alone into the fields. The security issues certainly needs to be addressed. Sometimes i feel why this has become a more serious problem only in recent times. One needs to truly understand and rectify the real reasons behind this ethics issue than blaming it on just the toilet.

Villages fortunately are not same as the concrete urban jungles. In villages, the human waste gets used up locally by natural ecosystem and doesn’t spill into pathways unlike the concrete roads in the urban jungles.

As part of my travels, I had variety of experiences. I remember using some insanely advanced toilet. It had a heated seat and remote controlled water jets that are supposed to automatically clean your bottom. I grew up using both Indian and Western style commodes. During some trips, I had to go into wild to relieve myself. Each experience was different with their own benefits, comforts and challenges.

Obviously those of us who adopted the urban toilet lifestyle will find it horrible when nature calls us in a rural area. Believe me I have been there. Imagine the plight of squatting, if one happen to be wearing denims on that day.

So with all empathy, i have a few questions.

Don’t you think we need to look at this toilet problem a little differently based on the actual people needs and lifestyle?

Don’t we need to think before we create solutions like built-in electric incinerators and create long term overheads and newer problems in societies?

Why are we proposing to destroy a eco-friendly compost?

Don’t we need to promote more natural, sustainable solutions at least where possible like villages?

Cities and Rapid urbanization challenges are a different matter. But solutions also need to address a different problem than the reinvention of toilet alone. What do you think?

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