The Real Super Bowl: Here’s how toilets save millions of lives.

Elliot Friar

Another brand, another shameless use of the most-watched television event of the year to create #shareable #content and get those good clicks. At least we’re honest. But, as Super Bowl LG (Lady Gaga is the halftime show act this year and that’s all we care about) and countless smothered chicken wings are upon us, let’s celebrate a truly super bowl: The toilet.

THE FIRST FLUSH

Sir John Harington invented the first flush toilet (yes, that’s probably why we call it the “john”) in the late 1500s and installed it in his house. Harington did the 16th century version of throwing a big flashy Keynote event by publishing a book titled, “A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called The Metamorphosis of Ajax.” Toilets didn’t fly off the shelves like Snapchat Spectacles, though, because who needs to talk about sh*t when there are old-age things to worry about like not having pre-sliced bread.

Hundreds of years later, poop was (literally) the hot topic of the 1800s, with hot weather creating The Great Stink of 1858. Poor sanitary plumbing in London led to the River Thames being filled with smelly sewage, prompting city officials to massively invest in public plumbing infrastructure. London still uses this infrastructure today, even as the population has more than tripled since.

LIFE-SAVING THRONE

Toilets and the plumbing connected to them cannot strut down a Super Bowl Halftime Show stage and sing “Bad Romance,” but they deserve just as many cheers as Lady Gaga herself. Or maybe even more. The bacteria in our fecal matter and the microbes that thrive in it are fatal. Before The Great Stink, a Cholera outbreak in London’s Soho neighborhood was thought to be caused by contaminated air. A doctor (not a Westeros warrior -- that's Game of Thrones reference) named John Snow investigated, and correlated the people sick with cholera to a water pump on Broad Street. It was found that a woman was cleaning her child’s diaper in the well.

This is why, as Bill Gates says, toilets save lives. Toilets and plumbing infrastructure allow us to safely flush and contain our doo for cleanliness and health. Although there are major problems with raw sewage runoff and combined sewage overflow in aging sewage systems in the United States, these issues are nothing compared to the global sh*tstorm of a sanitation crisis.

THE GLOBAL SH*TSTORM (AND SOLUTION!)

According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, 2.4 billion people don’t have access to improved sanitation, meaning they’re going where their poop is not hygienically separated from human contact. Out of this group, one billion people openly defecate. These dramatically large numbers have dramatically dangerous consequences: “Every day, about 900 children under the age of five die of illnesses linked to unclean water and poor sanitation."

This sh*tstorm is a real crisis with a real simple solution — access to clean sanitation via our porcelain hero. Samagra, our giveback program partner in India, is one of the many organizations at the forefront of combatting this problem. By building clean community toilets, educating publics on their benefits and hiring community members to upkeep them, Samagra has developed a sustainable system for clean sanitation improvements.

Clean sanitation has already saved millions of lives, but it has the potential to save millions more. Increased public discourse surrounding the global sanitation crisis, contributions from higher-income countries and support from people like you (and companies like TUSHY!!) will get us there. The toilet can and should be everyone’s hero. A true Super Bowl. ***full circle moment!!!!***