Well, there’s a headline we never thought we’d write. But yes, Beijing is holding a “Toilet Expo” (kind of an “export” expo to balance out Shanghai’s Import Expo perhaps?) right now and one of the guests of honor was Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Gates was there not just to brandish a bag of faeces, but also to back Xi Jinping’s push for a “toilet revolution” in China. Stop snickering, that’s a real thing — and frankly, anyone who’s ever felt the call of nature in rural China knows there’s a genuine need for this revolution. Outside of China’s major cities (and sometimes in them), most toilets are holes in the ground or squats, a situation that not only causes consternation among some Western tourists, but also leads to unsanitary conditions and the spread of disease in some cases.
But this is far from just a China problem, it’s a global one. In the last 7 years, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent 200 million USD on toilet research hoping to improve conditions worldwide. Here’s Bill to explain more:
“I have to say, a decade ago I never imagined that I’d know so much about poop,” Bill Gates told the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing this week. The event, according to the New York Times, was aimed at allowing brands to “showcase their takes on the simple bathroom fixture. Companies showed toilets that could separate urine from other waste for more efficient treatment, that recycled water for hand washing and that sported solar roofs.”
Gates also said his and Melinda’s foundation would be pledging a further 200 million USD to encourage more companies to get involved with developing an affordable toilet of the future.
Cover photo: Gates Foundation
Hutong Jiemei: The Beijing Toilet Index
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