Sunday, 18 January 2009

News dump

When you are an international toilet woman of mystery, you get sent a lot of interesting toilet related links. Here's a few I received this week.

How much does your poo weigh?

This device was actually designed to show people how much weight they 'lose' after going to the toilet but a secondary and, I think, more interesting function is that it can tell you how much you evacuated. Anyone who has a set of scales in their bathroom has probably already conducted this experiement - it's very enlightening :-)

I particularly like the look of consternation in the first panel.

San Fransisco toilets ablaze

A person, or gang of persons, obviously finds portaloo toilets so offensive that they have launched a major offensive against them, setting fire to 18 toilets in two months. A Google news search turns up nothing like this happenning before, which is a surprise. They do seem an easy target and are unlikely to cause extensive damage to anything around them. Fortunately, no one has been hurt. You can watch a video here.

Inauguration a portaloo extravaganza

The inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama is set to be the biggest "temporary restroom event in the history of the United States" with 5,000 toilets to line National Mall. While the toilets will be regularly serviced, I would advise anyone attending to bring their own toilet paper.

The portaloos are not without controversy. Big Dog claims that providing VIPs with flushing, posh portaloos is elitist and says that "the ones the VIPs use should be no better than the ones the visitors will use". And John Banzhaf, Professor, is using the toilet coverage to promote 'potty parity' - women take longer to pee so dividing toilets exactly in half based on gender discriminates against women, forcing them to wait longer. (Potty parity was addressed in New York with the Restroom Equity Bill.)

Man shoots toilet... and self

Fortunately, or unfortunately, this man didn't quite meet the criteria to make it into the Darwin Awards. After dropping his gun in a public toilet, he shot his arm and the toilet. I love the story for this sentence:

The fall triggered the gun to go off and the shocked man was glad he was already in the toilet.

I'll bet the toilet had it coming.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

One Water launches in Australia

A friend recently pointed out that paying $1 a litre for petrol is nothing, when in the same service station you can pay up to $9 a litre for water. Why Australians would pay so much for something that comes out of our taps in abundance practically for free is a mystery. Particularly when billions of people don't have simple access to clean water.

Bottled water brand One Water has just launched in Australia. Styling itself as Australia's first ethical water brand, it donates all of its profits to charities and says that, by simply switching brands, people can make a real difference in places where people don't have access to clean water.

One Water funds projects such as SkyHydrant, a water filtration system, and PlayPump which enables water to be pumped by using a child's merry-go-round. The idea is simple and effective, and costs are kept down by leasing advertising space on the attached water tower. This immediately sets off dubious alarm bells, and I wasn't surprised to see Coca Cola's Environmental Affairs Manager quoted on the site. However, the water towers will also host health messages so perhaps all is well.

We are a poor school….no seesaws or exercise rings like the kind most children play with. Because of our water crisis, such things are not in our budget. But now the children have this merry-go-round, and both problems are solved."
Sylvia Nkambule, teacher in Swaziland
The brand is well supported by minor Australian celebrities, such as Ruby Rose. The thinking behind the brand is that people who purchase bottled water will switch to an ethical brand. But it begs the question of the actual ethical problems associated with bottled water in the first place. It takes up to 6 litres of water to make one 1 litre plastic bottle and a large proportion of plastic bottles end up in landfill. While I applaud One Water for its ethical human commitment, I think the next step will be to ween people off their dangerous addiction to bottled water.