Using water instead of toilet paper? Rethinking over current practice of sanitation (toilet) system is urgently warranted

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  • klamichhane
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Using water instead of toilet paper? Rethinking over current practice of sanitation (toilet) system is urgently warranted

Hi,
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all sectors (social, economic, and mental) of the community and health and wellbeing of people are, thus, compromised and sanitation sector is no exception. Like other sectors, the sanitation sector also warrants due attention to make the system more sustainable (resilient) and to ensure that a toilet (rest room) does not act as a source of COVID-19 viruses.   Many existing social and technical standards & guidelines (school and college education, travel, restaurants, community toilet etc.) will (or need to) be reviewed to bring life to (new)normal because of this pandemic. The factors that support the rethinking (innovation) in sanitation are
  1. The current practice of flushing toilet consumes large amounts of water and is liable to produce aerosols that can contain disease carriers (for e.g., COVID-19 viruses).
  2. Even after about 5 months of the pandemic, toilet paper is still in short supply in US markets (shelves in big stores like COSTCO and SAMS CLUB are either empty or the quantity is rationed).
  3. Toilet paper production accelerates deforestation and subsequently the greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.
  4. Water is considered the ultimate cleaning agent in all cultures/religions in the word (Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and others).
  5. A large amount of fresh water is needed to produce toilet paper (literatures suggest that around 14 liters of water is needed to producing toilet paper for one day for an average individual in the USA)
  6. The people (communities) in global south have the tendency to follow western cultures (from food habits and sanitation practice)   
Research (acceptability study/willingness to use) is needed to see if people are willing to use alternative sanitation system to make it more resilient, economically viable, socially acceptable, and environmentally friendly.
  1. Promotion of water use to clean up the bottom (bum) after toilet use instead of wiping with toilet paper in developed  world countries (benefits: GHG emission reduction and water conservation).
  2. Use of vacuum toilets especially, in high occupancy areas including schools (excluding elementary schools), colleges/universities, army barracks, movie theaters, stadiums, restaurants etc where the time gap needed between successive toilet use to let settle the aerosols created due to flushing will be difficult to maintain (benefits: alleviate or minimize aerosols, conserve water, and subsequently reduce GHG emission).
  3. Promoting the use of water to clean the up the bottom (after toilet use) can save millions of trees which can ultimately contribute to control climate change. More, various products that ease in cleaning bottoms are available in the market (bidets, jets, etc) also in the developed nations. 
  4. The increased use of water to clean after toilet use in countries in the global north will help promote local technologies that are less susceptible to global markets and are more resilient. 
(N.B.: This is the same post I had in LinkedIn  a few days back)
Thank you Krishna
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  • Fadli
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Re: Using water instead of toilet paper? Rethinking over current practice of sanitation (toilet) system is urgently warranted

Thank you for interesting article Krishna.
To add, the incremental reduction of sanitation cost (i.e. building a toilet) is now more important amidst the economic situation post-civid-19.

The FINISH Mondial working group is now running the Sanitation Contest to seeking the technical innovation to reduce the cost of building the toilet. The top 3 winner will win a prize up to 3000 euro and opportunity for their solution to apply.

If you or your network has a solution, feel free to learn more about the contest and submit your solution here:
finishmondial.org/sanitationchallenge/

Regards,
Fadli
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  • paresh
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  • Budding WASH researcher, especially interested in governance, public policy, finance, politics and social justice. Architect, Urban & Regional planner by training, Ex. C-WAS, India. I am a patient person :)
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Re: Using water instead of toilet paper? Rethinking over current practice of sanitation (toilet) system is urgently warranted

Thank you Krishna
I think you are making two important points here
  1. What practices need to be changed/added to ensure that common sanitary facilities do not become source of transmission? 
  2. Use of water instead of toilet paper to clean after defecation.
1 is immediately important as it is necessary for opening up of schools, universities, airports, public places, so on an so forth. My own institution has decided to start the semester online as most students (10k+) would otherwise live in hostels, share common toilets, messing facilities among others. The task of keeping so many common facilities safe all the time seems daunting. The other concerns include return of student population from all over the country and rising number of cases in the city.

2 may not be immediately important but this change has been long overdue, especially considering its contribution to GHG emissions. I don't recall the source, but read somewhere that  use of toilet paper was necessitated by the cold weather. Now that technologies are available to ensure availability of warm water for ablution, it calls for efforts to reduce use of toilet papers altogether. 

Regards
paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
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  • klamichhane
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Re: Using water instead of toilet paper? Rethinking over current practice of sanitation (toilet) system is urgently warranted

Hi Fadli,

Thank you for your suggestion.
I have passed your information to my contacts; hope they will approach you.

Thank you,
Krishna
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