A precarious-looking--but functional--toilet for hikers in Kenya. Any toilet is better than no toilet at all.

It doesn’t get much classier than a squat toilet that practically blends in with the surrounding tile. Located in the desert of Morocco.

This toilet in Delhi, India, makes it easy for users to squat over the toilet, courtesy of ridges on each side.

A public composting toilet (the Enviroloo) in Germany. The toilet dehydrates solid waste and allows liquid to evaporate. Absorbed sunlight and oxygen-rich air (drawn through side air inlets and the toilet bowl) dehydrates and decomposes the feces.

For the less technologically advanced, there is the urine diversion dehydration (UDD) toilet (this one is in South Africa). This kind of toilet has two compartments: one for feces and one for urine. This kind of toilet is similar to the composting toilet--feces are dried and composted or managed via aerobic decomposition.

In most of the U.S., public toilets are hard to come by (excepting the generosity of the local Starbucks). This public toilet in Belgium is free for anyone.

The traditional Japanese squat toilet looks like a urinal on the floor. Unlike squat toilets in less developed areas, which consist of a hole in the floor, this toilet has fixtures that are similar to a standard Western toilet.

But the modern Japanese toilet offers an array of features for the discerning toilet user. Some models play music. Others have heated seats, and some even have a deodorizing feature. This is truly the future of toilets.

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Toilets Of The World, Unite

It’s World Toilet Day, the day we stop and think about the importance of sanitation. Seriously, stop and think about it. Your toilet might be the most important thing you own.

You use it every day, but you probably don’t think twice about how its existence is saving your life. But it’s possible that the toilet is the most important invention of the modern era. Just look in less developed areas of the world to see the devastation that not having toilets can cause.

November 19 is World Toilet Day—an event intended to raise awareness of "the life-saving power of the toilet." Globally, diarrhea kills a child every 20 seconds, which makes it more deadly than AIDS, measles, and malaria combined. The diarrhea largely comes from poor sanitation that contaminates drinking water. Here’s Matt Damon, putting the problem in perspective:

In the slide show above, we celebrate this powerful yet under-appreciated bathroom staple with a tour of toilets around the world—from the most innovative to the most decrepit. Even those are better than no toilet at all.

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  • tazdelaney

    clearly we should not be using up the diminishing freswhater for toilets! microwave ti into dried fertilizer, though not ash

  • Rick

    Is it not the case that the passing of waste water through the soil actually purifies the water by the removal of natural nutrients which are then used for the promotion of healthy plant life?  Obviously the over-concentration from sources such as the huge cattle lots defeats the soil and plant capacity to do the purification. 

  • Rick

    For the use as fertilizer. Against the use of power for microwaving.  I guess fertilizer use is little different from septic systems, and actually distributes over a greater area.  But we must not allow this to polute ground water either. 

    This font has a very strange lower case t ?