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Improved sanitation is one of the greatest medical advances in history, saving millions of lives. Yet 2.5 billion people still don’t have access to hygienic sanitation facilities, meaning they are at risk of deadly illnesses such as diarrhea and cholera, which can spread easily without proper infrastructure.

Toilets come in all forms, and cultural practices mean that they can be startlingly different in different parts of the world.

Contrary to popular opinion, Thomas Crapper did not invent the original flushing toilet but rather the ‘bullcock’ element of it. An innovative entrepreneur none-the-less, who no doubt has inspired further innovations around the world… and beyond:

1. Toto toilets

Popular in Japan, these digital toilets can let you warm your seat, wash you with warm water and dry you at the touch of a button.

Image owned by Armin Kübelbeck

2. The PeePoo

Saving lives and providing a desperately needed solution in times of crisis such as natural disaster, the PeePoo is a biodegradable, self-sanitising toilet.


3. The Space Toilet

Have you ever wondered how you go to the toilet when there is zero gravity? Space toilets are at the height of innovation and sustainability, as scientist Hank Green explains clearly in this video. Raleigh International alumnus and Britain’s first astronaut Tim Peak explains that 75% of the urine produced on board is recycled back into potable water – if only we could be that sustainable on Earth!

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4. The Shewee

Often the envy of men who can easily whip it out in the wilderness, women now also have the option to pee standing up, making activities like trekking and camping less of a kerfuffle.


5. The Portaloo

Portaloos have been rescuing festival goers everywhere, and over time have become more luxurious and eco friendly. This year, WaterAid used the humble portaloo to highlight an important issue, using a two-way mirror to help people understand the shameful feeling and fear that many round the world face when they don’t have the privacy of a toilet.

Image owned by WaterAid

6. Hygiene product incinerators

In rural communities girls often drop out of school when they reach the age of puberty. Without separate male and female toilets and a hygienic way to dispose of their sanitation products, girls often do not have a choice. Raleigh International’s projects in Tanzania are raising awareness and tackling this issue.


7. The Eco-latrine

The eco-latrine, or composting toilet is a sustainable alternative to conventional latrines used in rural communities, such as Los Arados, Nicaragua. The conventional latrines often don’t last, smell and contaminate surrounding soil. By turning solid waste into fertilizer and treating liquid so it is harmless and odor-free, the eco-latrines massively improve lives.