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Toilet Stories

Everyone has a Toilet Story.

 

The time that sticks in your head.

The time that helped you realize what equitable toilet access really means. 

Maybe you were a little uncomfortable. Maybe a lot. 

Maybe it helped you see the world through someone else's eyes. 

We want to share your story.

 

Toilet Stories are some of the most bonding moments. Getting into the grime and coming through the other side together builds camaraderie. It also raises awareness. 

Read some of our community's stories here. Then share your own with us.

Kaitlin P.,
Utah

My toilet nemesis was TEX.

 

When I was around 10, my family went on our first multi-day raft trip with some family friends. Up until that point, we had only taken car-camping trips to established campgrounds with outhouses. When I saw the box with TEX stamped on the side - the initials of the gear rental company - that would serve as our toilet on this raft trip, my eyes went wide. A box? And we had to carry it with us? On the raft?

 

Gross.

 

I managed to wait it out for a surprising amount of time. I was too grossed out to even think of using the box. Then finally on the third evening, feeling quite ill, I motioned my mom over and whispered shamefully, "I think I need to visit TEX."

 

I have since become quite accustomed to using groovers, and have even enjoyed some very beautiful groover locations. But TEX was a difficult experience for a privileged kid, used to flushable toilets that stayed where you left them. 

 

I was able to develop an appreciation for the conditions I've enjoyed in my life. It was good for that privileged kid to step out of her comfort zone and see another way to go.

 

About half a decade later, I went on another raft trip. This one was much longer, and with many more people. Three weeks in the arctic with my parents' friends as a 15-year-old girl. I learned to navigate not just how to find privacy for groover spots on sometimes treeless beaches, but also how to deal with the potential mess of menstruating without running water.

 

Quite the learning curve.

 

It gave me an even deeper appreciation for the sanitary conditions I'd grown up in, especially compared to what other people in the world experience on a daily basis.

As I've always had adequate toilet access, my toilet stories have just about all taken place on the trail. My earliest recollection of a toilet access trauma is also my most embarrassing, which I now share with the entire world.

 

I loved the Boy Scouts. When 14, my brother and I went on a week-long backpacking trip in New Mexico. This was serious high adventure, with long miles, fire-cooked meals, and lots of teenage boy foolishness. One day while hiking in single-file lines, we got into a farting contest. Each boy attempted to fart louder than the previous. When I summoned my record-breaking fart, I overshot and actually filled my pants (the dreaded "shart", or "Hershey squirt", or whatever the kids call that indignity these days).

 

I was too embarrassed to let on what had happened, but we still had a mile to go before our next break. So, I just hiked with my full tighty-whities. I distinctly remember one of the other boys giving me the high-praise of, "Man, Randy, yours really stick around!"

 

When we finally did stop, I scampered up a hillside, dug a cat-hole with a stick, buried my underwear, and cleaned up my nether-regions as best I could with the few squares of TP I had access to. Perhaps this shameful difficulty with one of our body's most basic functions is what inspired me to strive for toilet equity - to create a world where everyone has close access to a place to fart, shart, and clean up with privacy and dignity.

Randall R., Colorado

Rebecca M., Colorado

I love camping, so I've spent a lot of time learning how to go to the bathroom in the wilderness. I know how to use a stick to dig a hole, and I'm good about covering it up so you'd never know I was there. I've set up the groover in the desert, and I'm a happy camper and sing as I wash out the groover at the end of the trip while I clean up everyone's poo.

 

But I think what woke me up to Toilet Equity is going to the bathroom in the woods after my knee surgery. My body just didn't squat as easily as it did before the surgery, and I realized that I felt a vulnerability that I didn't feel when I was younger.

 

Everything was harder. Getting down, getting up. Navigating pants.

 

But I still got to choose to head into the woods.

 

Today I'm thinking about the people for whom squatting is hard and who don't have that choice.

A few months ago, I was running along the Colorado River when the infamous “Runner’s trot” hit me. Luckily, I was near a developed section of the river and a bathroom was less than 50 yards away. With a sigh of relief, I jogged to the bathroom, grabbed the handle, and was met with a “clunk”. The bathroom was locked. Frustrated and wondering what I was supposed to do, it dawned on me that hundreds of people in the valley faced this problem every day. Can you imagine?

At this point, I had been a volunteer of Toilet Equity (TE) for about a month. I knew there was a need for toilets and how important they were, but I had not realized how much I had taken them for granted. Everyone deserves access to a private, clean bathroom. The alternatives are not acceptable! TE is making great strides for our community and I am proud to be part of such an important public health crisis.

Jada M., Colorado

Annette P.,
Colorado

I landed in Mongolia to visit friends who were there to teach English. There’s a Golden Eagle Festival (Portrayed on The Eagle Huntress show). That’s exactly where I was. It was fascinating!

 

As fabulous as the festival was, the toilets were…precarious. I flew into a town about 100 miles from my final destination. I was in a “taxi” that was simply a VW bus with tons of people with piles of carrots, onions, and irrigation pipe piled on top.

 

Renting a vehicle wasn’t a possibility. No roads. The taxi drove through the wilds, through herds of animals. They’d stop for bathroom breaks, but there was nothing. Not a rock or bush to offer privacy.

 

At my ultimate destination, the “bathroom” was two boards across a hole in the ground. “I didn’t think those boards would support me.” Yet it was the only option. I was scared. But I didn’t fall in.

 

Even at the school—a college—it was a similar hole in the ground. No running water. No plumbing.

 

I wanted to kiss the ground when I got home to my flush toilet.

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