History of World Toilet Day
Jack Sim, a philanthropist from Singapore, founded the World Toilet Organization on November 19, 2001, subsequently declaring the day World Toilet Day. The WTO chose “World Toilet Day” as opposed to “World Sanitation Day” for ease of public messaging, though toilets are only the first stage of sanitation apparatuses.
World Toilet Day was made to spread and increase public awareness of broader sanitations systems such as wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and hand washing. Goal 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals calls for adequate sanitation, which includes the system assuring that waste is safely processed. Their efforts to call attention to the sanitation crises were strengthened in 2010 when the right to water and sanitation was officially declared a human right by the UN.
In 2013, a joint effort between the Government of Singapore and the World Toilet Organization led to Singapore’s first UN resolution called “Sanitation for All.” This resolution called for the collective action to end the world sanitation crises. As a result, World Toilet Day was declared an official UN day and the resolution was adopted by 122 countries at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. During World Toilet Day 2015, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon advocated action to renew efforts to provide access to satisfactory sanitation for all, reminding everyone of the “Call to Action on Sanitation” which was launched in 2013 and aimed to end open defecation by 2025.
World Toilet Day timeline
World Toilet Day was declared an official UN day
A challenge issued
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation issued the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, asking innovators design a waste-free commode in order to reconsider how we flush.
The UN declared the right to water and sanitation a human right.
The World Toilet Organization was founded by Jack Sim in Singapore.
World Toilet Day FAQs
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How to Observe World Toilet Day
As strange as it is to say, the history of the toilet, and plumbing in general, is a fascinating read. From the ancient Romans to the Middle East to John Crapper and today’s futuristic thrones, there’s plenty to learn about. And we're sure there's a joke about the perfect place to do said reading.
With all the tact you can muster (and perhaps a quick clean before), post a picture of your own toilet to social media to raise awareness of World Toilet Day, with the appropriate hashtag. Or, use your internet search skills to track down some of the best toilets in the world, and share with your friends. Great view? Cool design? The perfect toilet is out there for you to find.
With the help and guidance of UN-Water and its partners, you can host an event to raise funds for the cause or simply to increase awareness. The official World Toilet Day website even offers a tool to help you connect with others hosting a similar event all around the world.
Why World Toilet Day is Important
It raises awareness
World Toilet Day is all about shedding light on a subject that is often deemed inappropriate. And while we don’t suggest documenting the when, why, and how of your bathroom habits on social media, it can definitely be a day to open the conversation about sanitation issues in the world. As the UN puts it, there’s a taboo around talking toilets, and it’s time to break it.
It celebrates a modern marvel
From the first flush toilet to innovations being made to this day, toilets and plumbing have changed the way we live. Now, thanks to recent advancements, consumers aren’t wasting hundreds of billions of gallons of water and billions of dollars each year. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that if everyone in the country used an eco-friendly plumbing system, we could save 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $17 billion, every year. Now that’s something to celebrate.
Just like you after a Big Gulp, this can’t wait. UN statistics show that diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year. What’s more, productivity is falling due to lack of sanitation and poor hygiene practices in workplaces in several countries, costing them as much as 5 percent of their gross domestic product.