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.