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Fancy a Luxury Loo?


BY KEVIN KRIKKE


The other day, I heard a song on the radio that has become somewhat of a modern-day Canadian classic: “If I Had a Million Dollars”. 


While a million dollars doesn’t go nearly as far as it did back in 1992 when this song was first released, whenever I hear it I can’t help but think about what I would do with that substantial sum of cash.

Unlike the songwriters, I’m pretty sure I would pass on the fur coat, the exotic pet, the Dijon ketchup, and the little pre-wrapped sausages (well, on second thought, maybe not the sausages!). 

No, if I had a million dollars, one of the first things I would buy would be a really fancy toilet.

Like many North Americans, my family’s home has a pretty utilitarian, low tech loo – actually, we happen to have four separate bathrooms, each having one of these base model toilets. Considering there are four people in my family, and considering that 15 per cent of the world’s population (more than one billion people) still do their daily business completely out in the open, we are incredibly fortunate to each have one basic, working toilet in our household.

But sometimes we’ll visit someone who has a newer home, where sleeker looking toilets boast the duo-flush. This feature is often advertised as environmentally friendly because it allows the user to choose what amount of water to use based on which “job” they’ve just finished. I have to admit I’m a little envious.

Now, if the duo-flush is your idea of a really fancy toilet, the kind someone would buy if they had a million dollars, prepare to have your mind blown…



Imagine this: 
you wake up in the morning, and nature is calling, so you head to that familiar little room to relieve yourself. After turning on the light, you approach the toilet, and the lid automatically opens. Whoa, who did that? After a quick look around to make sure you’re the only one in the room, you sit down, and the first thing you notice is the comforting warmth emanating from the seat. It’s especially surprising since you’d braced yourself for the usual experience of sitting down on a jarringly cold toilet seat (when you think, did I just sit on the porcelain bowl itself?).

Instead, warmth. Wow, that’s really nice.

You sigh as you realize you might be there for a while (note to self: eat more bran muffins!). It’s then that you notice a small remote control sitting beside the sink within arm’s reach. What’s this button with the musical note on it? You push it, and magically, an acoustic guitar begins to play a familiar tune over the speakers. What the…this toilet has speakers? "If I had a million dollars", the singer croons.


Yes, indeed. If I had a million dollars.

You push another button, and warm air starts blowing on your feet from the base of the toilet. That’s perfect because your toes were starting to feel a little frosty from the frigid tile floor. Who thinks of these things? Because you’re glad they did.

As you enjoy the feeling coming back into your toes, there’s a click and then the quiet whirring of another fan. Seconds later, there is the smell of fresh lavender in the air. Ah, now that’s aromatherapy…so much better than the alternative.

Soon enough, the job is done, but there’s a problem. No toilet paper. Anywhere. Maybe there’s a button on the remote control for toilet paper to appear? You don’t see one, so you start pressing random buttons.

That’s when the water jet starts…shocking, to say the least. Thankfully, you realize you can adjust the temperature and the pressure of the water, which makes the experience somewhat more pleasant. How do Europeans get used to this sort of thing?

Just below those buttons is another for a butt, er, blow dryer. It turns out you didn’t need toilet paper after all.

You get up, relieved and ready for the day. 

As you start to turn around, reaching out your hand, the toilet simultaneously flushes and the lid begins to close. Whoa, who did that? This time, you know from experience that it was the toilet itself.

If I had a million dollars…

These types of technologically enhanced toilets actually exist. Yet with all of their ultra-comfortable conveniences and hefty price tags – some cost as much as a quality used vehicle – there are some features you will never see advertised in their product descriptions. 


Because the truth is, you don't actually need their fancy-pants toilet to accomplish these three life-saving features: 

1. This toilet prevents diseases. 23% of the world’s people are affected by intestinal worms, which are entirely preventable through safe, clean toilets in combination with improved hygiene regimens.

2. This toilet helps keep girls in school. When women and girls don’t have access to safe, private toilets, they are often at risk of sexual harassment and even rape. Girls often drop out of school when they start menstruating because of lack of privacy.

3. This toilet literally saves lives. 1,600 children die every day from diseases which cause diarrhea, diseases which are entirely preventable when basic hygiene practices and sanitation systems are in place, including access to clean toilets.

photo credit: "A Loo-ming Threat," Padham Health News

It doesn’t take a high-tech, high-priced porcelain throne to do any of these amazingly important things. Just a regular, run-of-the-mill toilet will make all the difference.

In our world today, 2.5 billion people don’t have regular access to a basic, safe, clean toilet.

November 19th is World Toilet Day. 

If you think that having access to a safe, clean toilet should be a basic right for everyone in our world, do something about it. 

Spread the word about the sanitation crisis in our world. Join with trusted groups to advocate for Canada’s global role in development. And support organizations like FH who are making a difference — $75 can build a safe toilet in a developing nation — one toilet at a time.

If I had a million dollars…


About Kevin Krikke: A teacher at an online school, Kevin currently lives with his wife and children in Chilliwack, British Columbia. He has spent enough time backpacking in the outdoors to appreciate the value of a basic, clean latrine. That said, he first encountered high-tech toilets while teaching English in Japan more than a decade ago, and has been missing them ever since!

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Food for the Hungry: Fancy a Luxury Loo?
Fancy a Luxury Loo?
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Food for the Hungry
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