Pilot Results Published!

We’re thrilled to announce that the second installment of the results from the pilot service we established with SOIL was published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Environment and Urbanization! We’re also excited that a photo from the first day of installation, taken by our good friend Felipe Jacome, made the cover of this issue!

Cover image expansion

The title of the article, led by re.source co-founder Kory Russel, is “User perceptions of and willingness to pay for household container-based sanitation services: experience from Cap Haitien, Haiti”. That’s a mouthful, so here’s a little spoiler- users loved the sanitation service!

An earlier article published in April 2015 and led by re.source co-founder Sebastien Tilmans examines the effectiveness of the CBS service at capturing and managing the waste from Shada. Spoiler for that one- CBS service dramatically reduced the share of feces that were unmanaged in the service area.

These two articles represent the first peer-reviewed evaluations of CBS services that we know of, and we’re thrilled to share these findings. Thanks to generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, both are available for free to anyone who would like to read them. These papers show the tremendous potential of CBS. Now it’s time help CBS services scale up, and continue to evaluate them along the way to ensure they continue to deliver such great impact.

Tools for Scale

We think cartridge-based sanitation services like the one we set up with SOIL in Haiti and services like x-runner, CleanTeam, and Sanergy have tremendous potential, but to reach that potential we need to make them much, much bigger. There are more than 748 million people living in cities today without access to decent sanitation, and that number grows every day. We need to move from serving thousands of people to hundreds of thousands, to hundreds of millions. How can we help? We’ve been hard at work on several fronts- hardware development, software development, and impact evaluation- all of which are critical for urban sanitation services to scale. Here is an update on our hardware and software efforts.

SOIL's staff checking the ins and outs of a mock-up for a new design

SOIL’s staff checking the ins and outs of a mock-up for a new design

Continue reading

Beyond the Toilet

Today is a big day! The UN has officially recognized November 19 as World Toilet Day, hopefully breaking taboos, unlocking important conversations on sanitation, and catalyzing action. The numbers on sanitation remain dire: by official estimates, 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, and diarrheal disease kills more children each year than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. Getting people to talk about toilets is a tremendous step in the right direction, and now it’s time to take the next one.

In our field we’re often reminded that there are more people in the world with cell phones than with toilets, which may be one of the reasons Bill Gates wants to create the cell phone of sanitation. It’s critical to unpack these sound bytes, so we can actually learn to make toilets as (more!) widespread as phones. Here are a few lessons from cell phones that will help us move beyond the toilet.

Courtesy of the Water and Sanitation Program

Courtesy of the Water and Sanitation Program

Continue reading

We’re Sharing our Encyclopoodia

Yes, we meant to spell it that way. During our design process, we pulled together images and information on dozens of toilets to get inspiration on ergonomics, aesthetics, function, environment, technology, all the details that go into a toilet that you might otherwise never notice. Then, we decided this document could be useful, inspiring, or enjoyable for others too, so we’re sharing it. Click the thumbnail below, or download it here. We hope you enjoy it!


*Short Disclaimer*- the information in this document was garnered from publicly available material on the internet. All efforts were made to give proper attribution and ensure accuracy, and we apologize for any errors and omissions.

Finally- for all of you who flip through the Encyclopoodia and find yourselves hungering for even more design inspiration (who wouldn’t?), we have been amazed at what you can find by searching Pinterest for Toilets. It’s an industrial designer’s playground.

Project Update (a teaser)

We’ve been analyzing our results and refining our toilet design, with great feedback from our friends at SOIL and at x-runner. Until we post some more pictures of toilets, here’s Kory giving a teaser of some of the results of our impact study in Haiti, along with interesting updates from cool projects by  Project Sammaan and  Water for People. While we encourage you to check out all the presentations, Kory starts at 56:50. Enjoy, and come back soon for pictures of a flat-packable toilet prototype!

Following Up

The work doesn’t end when you install the toilets. That’s when it begins.

Since deploying our toilets in November, we’ve been working closely with our friends at SOIL to refine the collection service, to make it faster, more convenient, and more enjoyable for our customers and our staff alike. We’ve put a lot of work into building our next generation of re.source tracking tools, too.

We think that the household toilet team has done a fantastic job in the past few months at delivering effective sanitation to our customers in Shada, but it doesn’t actually matter what we think. What matters is what our customers and their neighbors think, and what kind of impact we are delivering for them.

For the next few weeks, we will be going beyond our routine check-ups to re-examine everything we have done, interviewing customers and residents and staff, poring over operations data, and looking at our books to understand how we are doing.


SOIL’s Erinold, Josiane from KOSS in Shada, and re.source Operations Manager Rachel Sklar regroup and compare notes during a check-up of the household toilets

The goal is to get an early sense of what seems to be working, and what could be improved. We’ll make changes, and then we’ll learn from those too. It is through this continuous follow-up that we hope to build and improve our model into one that constantly improves sanitation for millions of people around the world.

Bringing the Toilets Home

We’re launching! We installed 25 toilets in Shada on October 30th, reaching a milestone we’ve been working toward for more than a year. It marks the culmination of many hours of design, prototyping, community meetings, surveying, training, waste collecting, and business model analysis. And it’s just a start. By the end of the month, we expect to install many more toilets for our 3-month pilot to stress-test our service, logistics, and pricing model before scaling up. Continue reading