More than meets the eye
Toilets facilitate the collection of waste and proper care of potentially hazardous materials.
In places where many people live in close proximity to each other, taking care of waste is top priority in maintaining healthy living standards for everyone.
When wastewater is collected and treated in a systematic way, it can be made safe to reuse once again.
When the flush lever is pulled, a plug in the tank lifts, allowing water to flow into the bowl via gravity.
This is the average household toilet.
Wall hung toilet
The tank remains hidden in the wall cavity and functions as a normal toilet.
A composting toilet doesn’t use water and instead incorporates the natural processes of decomposition and evaporation to dispel 90% of human waste.
These tiny toilets are made for camping or temporary spaces where all waste is stored in a holding space. Chemicals can be used to minimize the smells as a byproduct of the waste.
Pull Chain Toilet
The original design of this toilet is old-fashioned with the tank high above the bowl but functions the same as a household toilet you would see regularly.
Some toilets have high tech features, adjustable options and settings to amplify your experience on the toilet. A variety of models will play music during your bathroom experience.
This toilet is built to project water and clean a person’s butt. It has adjustable water features to customize that experience.
While in outer space, astronauts are still people who need to use a toilet. Without the force of gravity, scientists invented a toilet where astronauts strap themselves onto the seat. Technology forms a suction to pull all waste in a down into what NASA calls “people patties.”
Toilets of the Past
A Very Public Toilet
In ancient Rome, toilets were comprised of long stone benches with holes in them that emptied into a pit below.
Because users sat side by side, Romans eventually treated their trip to the bathroom more as a social event. The area was a place to meet with friends, engage in conversation, and catch up.
Ever hear of the saying “getting hold of the wrong end of the stick?” Many believe this to have originated here. Instead of using toilet paper, Romans used what we call tersoriums, which is essentially a wooden stick with a sponge attached to one end. When they were done, they would simply rinse the tersorium with water and leave it for the next person.
Garderobes were the Middle Age’s term for what we call restrooms today.
They are rooms in Medieval castles which contain only a toilet and sink.
The waste from garderobes would drop directly into a sewage pit below, called a cesspit.
The Close Stool
During the 1500s in London came Garderobes’ successor, the close stool.
These chest-like toilets are equipped with handles for traveling, and a folding lid to cover.
Waste fell into a pot underneath and was often removed and emptied into the streets outside people’s homes. That’s right, residents actually tossed their waste outside their windows or doors. But before doing so, they made sure to yell “gardez l’eau” or “watch out for the water” in case people were passing by.
Although the stench in the streets were highly unpleasant, for the residents it was worth not having to pay extra taxes for an adequate sewage system.
The Earth Closet
Another olden-day toilet was invented by Henry Moule in 1869.
Also known as the composting toilet, this toilet utilized dry dirt instead of water to cover waste for later removal.
Value from the earth closet stems from its ability to deodorize waste and function without any indoor water pipes.
In 1596, English courtier John Harrington described the first flush toilet.
Although it took a few centuries for his idea to actually catch on, Harrington is still honored today when people tell their friends they’re headed to the “John.”
Flush toilets were finally manufactured in the late 19th century by Thomas Crapper.
Many were made of porcelain and embellished with attractive colors and designs.
Cisterns (toilet bowls) were usually emptied by a pull chain.
Toilets Around the World
Egg Pod Toilets
Guests at an upscale restaurant in London are graced with these giant, free-standing, egg-shaped pods as their restroom.
Inside each egg contains a full-functioning toilet. And while claustrophobic for some, their uniqueness attracts thousands of tourists each year.
The idea behind the eggs is said to have come to the owner of the restaurant in a nightmare, but while this may be true, the experience for visitors seems to be anything but.
In hopes of attracting tourists to the city, the capital of New Zealand, Wellington, spent $375,000 to turn these toilets into a massive work of art.
The peering public toilets have steel, red shells covering their body, like a lobster.
Vents are seen from this end, but the other side contains single-person entry for users.
A Toilet with a Target
Urinals located at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport have a unique feature to them.
Etched into the center of the urinal lies an image of a fly. At first glance, you might mistake it as a live insect, until you realize every other toilet bowl in the restroom has one too.
The flies are added as a target for spillage reduction. Apparently, having an aim can reduce cleaning needs.
But why a fly? You might ask. The reasoning is that “If it’s something you consciously don’t like, you’re more likely to pee on it,” says Mike Friedberger, the product director of the fly-engraved urinals.
These toilets, embedded into the ground, require users to squat to floor level instead of sit.
Squat toilets are prevalent in many countries around the world, but are particularly common in Asian and African countries.
They are mostly found in public restrooms rather than household bathrooms.
Despite the seemingly unpleasant posture, research shows that squatting while using the bathroom may actually have health benefits.
Freestanding Public Urinals
In Europe, public urinals can be especially hard to come by.
That’s why you’ll find these freestanding metal urinals dotted along the canals in Amsterdam’s busy neighborhoods.
These urinals are man-height and C-shaped, with holes penetrating the upper half of the stall so that passer-bys can clearly tell whether it is occupied or not.
Also present in Amsterdam are the world’s first retractable female toilets.
You’ll only find these public restrooms make an appearance during very special occasions, when for example, the city is bustling with people for holidays.
Afterwards, the toilets go back into hiding by slipping back underneath the pavement.
Toilets of Mexico
Toilets in Mexico are similar in design to the ones we have here in the United States. But can you spot the missing pieces? That’s right, these toilets are missing seats and covers.
In Mexico, toilet seats are sold separately, meaning that they are just one extra thing to purchase when installing a new toilet. Other reasons for forgoing the seat include sanitary factors and the country’s warm climate, which can make sitting on a cool porcelain seat, not very pleasant.
Additionally, many toilets are decorated with intricate mosaics and designs.
If you visit Mexico you should know toilet paper is thrown not in the toilet, but in the trash. Plumbing systems simply cannot process toilet paper there, doing so could cause backups and clogs.