On the blog

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The art of queuing

Or, how do you get from Wimbledon to Burundi?

An obsession with whether or not it will rain, strawberries and cream, queues of newsworthy proportions and, all too often, sporting disappointment – it could only be Wimbledon. What other occasion gives so many opportunities to flaunt Britishness?

Talking about the weather and queuing are two quintessentially British traits, and Wimbledon gives us the chance to enjoy both. Although centre court’s multimillion pound roof means rain won’t stop play, there are still many times when weather and tennis collide: Will Murray Mount stay open? Should people take extra sunscreen? What’s the strawberry crop like this year?

There are few certainties in today’s world, but an obsession with a Brit winning Wimbledon is a sure thing. As are the queues of people waiting to see whether this year will be THE year. The Wimbledon queue is such a tradition that it even has its own code of conduct.

Of course, Wimbledon isn’t the only time when our ability to queue comes in handy. Any woman will be only too familiar with The Queue. (Why are the queues for the ladies always worse than the gents? Answers on a postcard please… or in this digital age, just comment below).

Although we might despair at toilet queues, whether at a festival, on a night out or just about anywhere else there are public toilets, at least we have something to queue for. They might not always be spotless and chances are the door won’t lock, but there is some provision for privacy and at least a nod towards hygiene.

Compare this with the situation for 2.6 billion people in the world. They’re not queuing because they don’t have a loo to queue for. While we might complain that the toilet roll’s run out or the flush isn’t working, millions don’t have the luxury of a flush. Or a seat. Or even walls.

Since Toilet Twinning’s launch over 1,600 latrines have been built in Burundi. With an average family size of 6, that’s nearly 10,000 people who now have somewhere safe, private and hygienic to go. As well as safe sanitation your donations help to fund access to clean water and hygiene promotion. What are you waiting for? Twin your toilet and help give others something to queue for.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Festival Loos: A Survival Guide

As Glastonbury kicks off today, festival season is in full swing – bring on the wellies and hot pants!

The line-ups, the food, the rain – it’s all part of the fun. But by far the biggest fear for most people will be….dum dum DUM….the loos.

(Photo credit: www.telegraph.co.uk)

It can be a pretty grim experience, and may well put you off eating and drinking for the rest of your time there, but thankfully we’ve put together some handy tips to help you get through it!

First of all, you will need:

• Your own toilet paper
• Anti-bacterial hand gel
• Wet wipes
• A torch
• Water
• Anti-diarrheal tablets
• A strong disposition

(Photo credit: www.videojug.com)

Learn to hover – You may need some strong thighs, or if you don’t, you will do by the time you leave the festival.

Wash your hands – Considering that most food you will eat a festival will not involve a lot of cutlery, make sure you wash your hands often. Keep an antibacterial gel in your pocket at all times! You don’t want an upset stomach at a festival…

Take a torch – You want to be sure where you are sitting at night time. If you can, make it a head torch – no chance of having to fish around on the floor – or worse – when you drop it!

Go in the morning – Most festival toilets are used over the course of the day and emptied over night. You do not want to go late into the evening, the stench would be at its peak!

But for a change of perspective: As disgusting and as embarrassing as some festival loo experiences may be over a matter of a few days, it’s got nothing on the 2.6 billion around the world for whom not having a hygienic and safe place to go to the toilet is a daily experience. Just imagine for a moment if everyone at Glastonbury had to go out in the open? Now imagine 2.6 billion people doing that every day!

So when you’re getting frustrated in the loo queue this festival season, waiting for what seems like hours, take a second to remember the millions of people who walk miles to get to a hole in the ground.

One of the latrines Toilet Twinning is helping to build.

For £60 you can twin your toilet and make all the difference in the world, to transform the lives of the poorest communities and give them somewhere safe to go to the loo. Just like festival toilet supplier Andyloos did last year by twinning some of their portable loos – so have a look out for them at this summer’s celebrations, send a photo to us if you spot them!

Stay safe and happy loo queuing!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

No. 2 gifts for No. 1 dads

I don’t know about you but I find that fathers are particularly tricky to buy presents for. If your dad’s anything like mine then if he needs something, he’s gone out and got it already.

With this in mind, at Toilet Twinning we’ve done a little bit of research into unusual gifts for the man who has everything. No prizes for guessing the theme!

Our recent poll highlighted the controversial issue of toilet paper orientation, so where better to start than novelty toilet roll. There’s a good line out there in special toilet paper, whether you want to share a heartfelt message …
(thanks to www.buzzfeed.com)

… make night-time toilet trips easier with glow in the dark loo roll …

… or simply give your dad the opportunity to show that men CAN multitask, given the right environment.
Or what about the LavNav – a handy little gadget that’s essentially a night light for your bathroom. Not only does it mean you don’t have to turn the light on, there’s also an in-built toilet seat up/down indicator.

If you’re looking for something less practical and more for a practical joker, there is the inspired talking toilet roll dispenser. You can record your own message or jingle, which will play whenever someone takes any loo roll.
(A word of caution – some time ago my friends had a musical toilet roll holder. While undisputedly high on amusement and originality, their downstairs neighbours did complain about the noise. True story.)

For the more altruistic dad, there’s no need to have read all this – just twin your dad’s loo and tick Father’s Day off your to do list.

So go on, show your dads how much you love them!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Changing the world from Norman's bathroom

We love hearing from our supporters! Norman Colville, a Toilet Twinner from Edinburgh, recently dropped us a line about how the view from his loo is helping raise awareness of the sanitation scandal facing poor people all over the world.

When faced with the statistics on water and sanitation in far-flung places it can be tempting just to ignore them and carry on with our own lives. After all, what difference can one person make? Toilet Twinning makes it possible for anyone to change the world … from their bathroom.

Without people like Norman, Toilet Twinning simply wouldn’t work. If you’ve got a story about raising money for Toilet Twinning or have been inspired by Toilet Twinning we’d love to hear from you. And now, over to Norman...

When I discovered Toilet Twinning I thought it was a fantastic idea. The certificate constantly reminds me of the plight of the 2.6 billion people who do not have the basic luxury of going to the loo in privacy, safety or with the most basic hygiene.

Some people may say that issuing a certificate is a gimmick. I would disagree because for me, having the certificate on display in the toilet is a constant reminder of how privileged I am to have had the basic resources of fresh water and sanitation all my life.

Also, it can be a relatively easy thing to make a gift to those in need and then carry on with life feeling quite pious that you have done your bit to help. The certificate acts as a stark reminder that these problems are long term and require constant resources to overcome them.

I have found the reactions of visitors using the toilet very interesting. They usually fall into two categories: some visit the loo and say nothing about the certificate; others, however, find it initially quite amusing but are interested to find out more about it.

A friend of mine who is a retired Marine Engineer used the loo recently. On returning from the loo, he pointed out that the flush mechanism required some maintenance. That spoke volumes to me – for him to have noticed such a minute detail as the flush handle he must have also noticed the certificate, but chose not to mention it in conversation.

I have been deeply challenged and humbled by Toilet Twinning and Tearfund’s Make Life Flow campaign [check out the campaign video], so much so that I am planning to serve in some practical way in the future (God willing). I recently took early retirement from my work as a Marine Engineer after 35 years service, and I believe that I have God given talents and skills that I can use to help bring these most basic of facilities to people who so desperately need them.

Norman Colville