Meet Mr. Toilet: The Man Trying To Make Commodes A Global Status Symbol

“When we are children, our parents tell us not to talk about shit.” So says Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization. Sim’s goal is to make sure everyone is shitting in toilets, because that way, nothing is getting contaminated.

“Shit is like fire,” he says in this short documentary about his work. “If you managed it properly, it cooks your meals. If you don’t manage it properly, it burns down your house.” In other words, let’s use it for fertilizer instead of letting it kill millions of people a year.

The problem that Sim confronts is that, in many countries, people enjoy defecating outside. In India, especially, open defecation is a huge problem that results in massive health concerns. But it isn’t just poverty, it’s culture. For instance, between 1997 to 2000, the World Health Organization subsidized the construction of 1.6 million outhouses in India. Today, only 47% are being used in the intended manner. The rest are used for storage.

Sim hopes to change this by impressing on the wealthy that shit flows both ways: They can get sick from contamination even if they have a lovely toilet. And by making the toilet something everyone needs. “We want toilets to become a status symbol for the poor, so they feel proud to own a toilet.”MC