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— Health and Wellbeing

Bill backs one out at Reinventing the Toilet fair

In an effort to improve conditions for the more than 2.5 billion people worldwide with no access to safe sanitation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year awarded grants totaling US$3 million to eight universities to reinvent the toilet. At the two-day “Reinventing the Toilet” fair held in Seattle this week, where Bill Gates was on hand with 50 gallons (189 l) of fake feces made from soybeans and rice to put the various designs through their paces, a California Institute of Technology (Caltech) team claimed first place for their solar-powered toilet. Read More

Michigan installs talking urinal cakes to combat drunk driving

The United States celebrated its independence yesterday, and one state turned to a unique tactic for fighting the drunk driving that unfortunately goes hand in hand with major holidays. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning has teamed up with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association toward putting talking urinal cakes into restaurants and bars throughout several counties in the state. The electronic sanitary discs provide an on-the-spot reminder not to drive after drinking, using both written and motion-activated audio messages. Read More
— Environment

Cheap, simple composting toilet concept receives funding from Gates Foundation

Whatever you call it - lavatory, privy, latrine, crapper, loo or dunny - most of us take the humble toilet for granted. But in many parts of the world the absence of sanitary waste disposal is not just inconvenient, it can cause deadly diseases such as hepatitis, dysentery, trachoma, typhoid and cholera. Enter Marc Deshusses, a Duke University environmental engineer who has envisioned an innovative yet simple waste disposal system designed specifically for Third World countries that can be constructed from everyday items. Now, as part of a broad ranging project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Deshusses has received $100,000 to perfect and test the system in the laboratory before producing a prototype to field-test in 18 months time. Read More
— Good Thinking

Victorinox raises awareness of sustainable design and innovation

Victorinox has opened a public online vote to choose the best sustainable design submission to its "Time to Care" competition. The call for entries has been open since January 2011, and the seven best were chosen by jury in May. Throughout June, July, and August, the top seven designs are open to a public vote. The ultimate winner will be awarded prize money at a ceremony in October, and work with Victorinox to bring the design project to fruition. Read More
— Environment

Loowatt creates energy and fertilizer from human waste

Of all the things that people traditionally discard, one that most of us likely think the least about repurposing is human feces and urine. Sure, we recycle our plastic and paper, and compost our fruits and veggies, but ... that stuff? Actually, there are various worldwide projects aimed at using municipal raw sewage for things such as fertilizer or a power source. While those projects only come into play once the waste has been flushed, however, the UK’s Loowatt system gets users involved from the bottom up (sorry), collecting waste directly from the toilet and using it to create biogas and fertilizer. Read More
— Around The Home

Odourbuster sucks toilet odors down the pipes

Nobody likes the smell of a just-used bathroom – and no, we don’t mean a bathroom in which someone has just bathed. That’s one of the reasons bathrooms have ceiling extractor fans, although installing the wiring and ducting for such hardware is a hassle that it would be nice to avoid, if possible. The Odourbuster is an invention that reportedly does away with the need for a fan, by taking those nasty odors and sending them where everything else went – down the toilet. Read More
— Games

Sega's Toylets give public toilet users something to aim at

Most men at one time or another (hopefully when they were merely boys) have enjoyed a spot or two of “sword fighting” in school toilets – just to clear up any misconceptions members of the fairer sex may have about such activities, this involves the clashing of streams, not appendages. One of the unfortunate side effects of these duels can be fair degree of spray ending up where it isn’t supposed to, creating extra work for those whose job it is to keep such facilities clean. Now Sega is bringing restroom gaming into the 21st century with a video game that makes use of a pressure sensor built into the urinal to entice urinators to keep their pee on target. Read More
— Environment

Creating sustainable sanitation in the slums of Kenya

It's estimated that around 2.6 billion people around the world make do without any sanitation, including more than 10 million in the slums of Kenya. Still more have to use thinly disguised holes in the ground. A group of MIT students have joined forces to try and create a sustainable toilet solution for those in need. They've developed a low cost, modular sanitation solution which would be operated and maintained by locals and the waste transported to nearby processing plants. Biogas produced from the waste will be used to create electricity and what's left of the human waste turned into fertilizer. Read More
— Environment

Niagara Stealth Toilet keeps noise and water on the 'down low'

First things first – yes, with a name like the Stealth Toilet, it should be matte black, not glossy white. It gets its name, however, from the fact that it flushes very quietly. More importantly, it could also be considered stealthy because conventional radar will barely be able to detect the amount of water it uses - at just 0.8 gallons per flush, it is touted as the world’s most efficient toilet. Read More