• 11.16.13

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.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.