New ideas for cleaner public restrooms


When you’re visting any walking city, and suddenly you need to use the facilities–good luck finding a clean one nearby. Well, that’s a problem that may be changing.

Recently, while in Venice on our staff trip, my wife and I both had to use the restroom. It was really difficult to find one. We ended up having to use a (not so nice) public toilet. And it cost two Euros apiece to do so! That’s $2.70 for each of us. I still haven’t gotten over it!

This is an issue all around the world–because when you gotta go, you gotta go.  That’s why smartphone apps such as Clean Bathroom Finder and SitorSquat have been developed,  pointing you to the nearest clean bathrooms.

In Manhattan, so many chain stores have recently popped up that people are starting to use them as a “go-to” facility. (Here’s a tip: they usually hide them on the top floor of the building, in the back, with no signage.)

Some cities have tried to solve this public toilet problem. Seattle put in ultra-fancy public toilets at a million bucks a pop–but they were trashed in no time. A public transit system put what was supposed to be an “indestructable, self-cleaning toilet.” All of these high-tech solutions are now in the trash heap.

But Portland Oregon has come up with an answer that’s really caught fire. Based on an old European model, they’re putting up tin shacks that only partially block people’s view–you can see feet and heads, and the sink is placed outside, but they provide enough privacy to do your business. This eliminates the prevailing problem of rest rooms being used for illicit activities.

And these things are not only working great, they’re ultra-cheap compared to Seattle’s million-dollar solution. Portland’s restrooms cost just $60,000 apiece. The San Francisco Chronicle says that they are working so well, cities all over America are putting them in place. It’s an innovative solution to address a basic need we all have!

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