Toilets Around The Globe
In the corner is our standard everyday toilet, also called a Western-style toilet, because it is common in western countries like America, Canada, and Great Britain. It is meant to be used sitting and can be flushed using water. But what is that other thing? It is called a bidet and can be found in Europe, the Middle East, China and fancy places in the US. A bidet is used to clean your bottom with a spray of water.
On the left is an Eastern-style toilet like the one Noel uses in Tanzania. This one does not have a tank for flushing but uses a faucet and a short hose for cleaning up afterwards instead of toilet paper.
On the right is a diagram showing the proper way to use an Eastern-style, or squat toilet. You are supposed to squat over it, not sit down. Eastern toilets are common in Africa, Asia and the Middle East but can be found all around the world. My advice to travelers, bring your own toilet paper and hand-sanitizer.
If you have been camping you may have used an outhouse or pit latrine. It might have a seat or a simple hole in the floor. A problem is the nasty smell and flies. Also, when it fills up you have to dig another one. The pit latrine is the most common type of toilet in low-income countries. Contamination of water supplies is a big concern in heavily populated areas.
Sometimes people use group or communal toilets, like the one on the right from ancient Rome. The Romans also had communal baths. Many people would bathe together and socialize or even conduct business in the public bath. These were a lot like our modern-day spa.
On the left is a “Dinkum Dunny” triple outhouse from Australia. Would you share a toilet with someone else? Some cultures value privacy like we do in America. Other cultures not so much.
If you are going camping or on a boat without a “head” or bathroom, you might use a bucket toilet like these. It is also called a “honey bucket.” Can you guess what the "honey" is? The bucket toilet does have the advantage of being portable. Would you take turns cleaning them out? Somebody has to.
Almost 900 million people, about 12% of the world’s population practice open defecation, pooping or peeing outside in front of everyone. Over a third of the population of India has no place to go to the bathroom. This is unsanitary, can contaminate the water supply, spreads disease and there is no privacy. Several organizations including UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations (UN) are working to fix this problem. You can learn more on Wikipedia.
So next time you use the bathroom, be thankful that you have one. About 6 out of every 10 people in the world have no access to flush toilets or clean drinking water.