Japanese Schoolgirls Create a Cheap and Sanitary Portable Toilet
Most stories on Japanese toilets focus on their comfortable features and advanced technology. Many refugees and displaced people, however, have no access to the modern plumbing that many of us take for granted. For those living in areas where public toilets are unavailable, a trip to the bathroom is at best a chore, and at worst a major sanitary concern.
Luckily technological advances are being made in order to help remedy these problems, and so far 2015 has been a promising year in that regard. U.K. researchers and volunteers were able to successfully create an urine-powered outhouse, while over in Japan a high school girls’ volunteer club recently came up with a new economic and hygienic portable toilet option.
Following the earthquake that caused heavy damage to the Northeastern part of Japan in 2011, Meguro Seibi Gakuen, a Catholic girls school in Tokyo, began volunteer activities to visit and help raise money for disaster victims in Miyagi Prefecture (pictured below).
They soon learned that many of the Miyagi residents in temporary living situations were troubled with the cleanliness, disposal, and safety of the manhole toilets that had been set-up for lack of regular plumbing.
The 20-volunteer group saw a need for change, and soon got to work devising a better and cheaper solution. What they came up with was a cost-friendly alternative that has been dubbed “the magic portable toilet” in Japanese. Consisting of two bags and a special polymer sheet, the toilet set can be packed and carried anywhere for outdoor or indoor use by disaster relief victims and campers.
Not only does it minimize mess, it’s also cost-efficient. At only ¥35 to ¥40 a set, it’s almost one-third the cost of existing portable models in Japan. The polymer sheet is manufactured by Fujikoh, a recycling company, and the odor-eliminating bag is courtesy of Kuriron Kasai Ltd.
The schoolgirls’ quick response to the needs of disaster victims just goes to show that where there’s a will, there’s a way, and that often just listening to people and their needs is the best way to start making a difference.