Thinking Outside the Box and Beyond the Bowl

According to The Japan Times, unique emergency toilet designs by high school students are drawing praise.

The students were inspired by disaster preparedness lessons at school so they hit the drawing board. According to The Japan Times, some of their ideas are being developed into real products.

Atsushi Kato, representative director of the non-profit research group Japan Toilet Labo, told The Japan times that further preparations are needed to provide sufficient toilets for use in disasters, welcoming the students’ contributions.

“Compared with water and food, toilets tend to be left out of disaster-preparation measures, but they are a matter of human dignity and human life,” Kato said.

Below are two excerpts from the article describing some of the students’ inventions:

“It’s small in size with a cute design, and if you keep it in your bag you can feel at ease,” Ayaka Horinouchi, 17, of Meguro Seibi Gakuen High School in Tokyo said about the “improvised toilet from a girl’s point of view” that she and a group of friends designed.

The students developed the toilet by combining existing products after getting permission from the manufacturers. An absorbent sheet in a plastic bag soaks up liquid waste, turning it into a gel, while an outer bag made of a deodorizing substance wraps around the inner bag to prevent foul odors from escaping.

The girls came up the idea after feeling embarrassed at the prospect of having to use manholes if the flush toilets at their school are disabled in a disaster.

A pair of high school students from Tokushima Prefecture have developed a cardboard Western-style sit-down toilet to help disabled or elderly people who might have difficulty with traditional squat toilets, which are often the only option in emergencies.

Students Hikari Abe and Keina Nijo, both 16, of Awa High School in Tokushima Prefecture, collaborated with a local manufacturer to design their toilet. Despite its cardboard construction, the toilet is strong enough to support an adult and takes only about a minute to assemble.

In a disaster-preparedness workshop at their school, Abe and Nijo had learned about the lack of sufficient toilets in evacuation centers following the March 2011 disasters, and how that affected the evacuees’ health.

Unsanitary conditions led to the spread of infectious diseases, while some evacuees became dehydrated because they refrained from drinking to avoid frequent use of the toilets.


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