How Sanitation Technology (or the Lack of It) Has Impacted Society and the Planet

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It happens often, and you don’t realize it until you’ve left the store… your Chipotle order didn’t have the extra guacamole you asked for. #FirstWorldProblems.

#FirstWorldProblems is a trending topic in which people complain about something so trivial while living in a developed country. But living in this developed country, we have grown so used to our comfortable lifestyle that we take the little things for granted.

While we cry about the missed extra guacamole, there are underdeveloped countries that don’t have access to a simple thing like a toilet. Yes, the same ol’ toilet that you would be using after that Chipotle meal. All jokes aside, one in three people around the world (that’s over 2 BILLION people) don’t have access to a safe sanitation system. Take a moment to think about that. While we can easily access a bathroom whenever we need to go, there are BILLIONS of people who do not have that option. Toilets are heavily relied on in homes, at work, and while out at play. They also use inefficient and outdated technology which negatively impacts the environment for generations to come. But newer, more advanced toilets designed with conservation in mind are combatting this issue and proving to be a force for good.

safe water sanitation

Photo: Unicef

The Sanitation Problem
While you may never have had to think twice about finding a toilet when nature calls, in many underdeveloped countries – and sometimes even in cities in developed countries, accessing safe and reliable sanitation isn’t even an option.[1] This lack of proper waste disposal can be devastating to public health. According to a United Nations’ report, half of the hospitalizations in the developing world are a result of unsafe sanitation and open defecation that can contaminate drinking water. Here’s another grim statistic – 1.5 million children contract a fatal diarrheal disease each year.[2] What’s especially sad is that a majority of these deaths can be prevented with proper sanitation, potable drinking water, and better hygienic conditions.

Efforts to Combat the Challenge
The good news is that government institutions, nonprofits, and private companies are making some improvements to sanitation in developing communities. These efforts are helping to reduce the spread of diseases, decrease malnutrition, and increase school attendance among girls who collect water for their household during school hours.[3] The World Health Organization calculated that every $1 invested in sanitation returns a whopping $5.50 in lower health costs, increased productivity, and reduced premature deaths.[4] The bad news is that even with this progress, a 2015 Millennium Development Goal of improving sanitation facilities missed its target by almost 700 million people.[5] This goes to show that there is still a long way to go to ensure that humans worldwide have access to safe, affordable drinking water, and sanitation.

The Problem with Antiquated Toilets
In developed communities in the United States and worldwide, toilets have dramatically improved public health and human life. But these toilets use an older gravity-propulsion system to flush away waste – a design introduced during the Victorian Era that has barely evolved over the last 100 years. So while electronics and devices have all gotten smarter, we’re still using inefficient toilets that waste tons of potable drinking water.[6] As a result, these old dinosaurs hamper conservation efforts and threaten the availability of natural resources for our children and grandchildren.

Advanced Toilet Technology
While toilets haven’t changed substantially since their debut, that is all changing now thanks to innovative engineering, propelling the technology forward. Niagara has taken the lead in the development of more advanced and environmentally sound toilets that promote long-term sustainability. Using only 0.8 gallons of water per flush, Niagara has re-engineered the flush for a high-power, low-maintenance, no-waste toilet that helps turn mindless waste into mindful conservation. This superior-performance, ultra-high-efficiency technology helps safeguard the planet and those who call it home. To learn more, visit


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