Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Green & Clean

Photo courtesy of Virginia Gardiner

In Japanese, the word for "clean" and "beauty" is one and the same: kirei (きれい). With cutting-edge green technology and fixtures rendered into works of art, the Japanese bathroom has become an object of fascination and admiration worldwide.

For those of you who want to become experts on toilets, the reading list isn't long because not enough serious books have been written on the subject. However, your first step should be to buy a copy of Rose George's The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters (Metropolitan Books, 2008).

To quote from Virginia Gardner's thorough review:

"With good humor and deep seriousness, George travels the world and presents impressive research about the current state of sanitation. Colorful encounters with people and places are centered around dismal facts. 2.6 billion people worldwide currently have no toilets--as George puts it, "Four in ten people have no access to any latrine, toilet, bucket or box." Resulting waterborne illness kills about 7000 people every single day. The centuries-old solution that's still current--flush toilets with sewers--is already taxing the richest economies, and won't be sustainable anywhere in the long term. George asks why such a fundamental aspect of our designed lives remains on the margins of polite conversation."

On Wednesday, May 26, at 6:30 pm, Rose George and Gunnar Baldwin, water efficiency specialist for TOTO USA, Japan's leading luxury plumbing manufacturer, will explore high tech and eco innovation in the Japanese bathroom, and the prospects for their wide adoption in the U.S.

Japan Society has TOTO washlet toilets installed in all the bathrooms and I'd recommend them personally. Although, sad to say, my enthusiasm lies less in the eco-friendly nature of the devices and more in having a toasty toilet seat in winter.

Hope to see you on the 26th!

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