1. waterless urinals
Waterless instead of waterfree because you’ll always need some liquid to clean the system, but still: water is such a valuable resource – too valuable to flush it down the toilet. And while some systems require a liquid in order to transport any faeces and urine (~ waste water, sewerage), the urinals for men could easily be switched from flushing urinals to waterless urinals. These technologies work in any country and culture (!), are already available (PDF) at different technology levels (simple & cheap <=> complex & expensive) and are just as “smelly” as any other flush toilet (or even less!).
The image on top left comes from a brochure @ Urimat.com, a very inovative company that just won numerous prices for their urinal designs. Please note the read arrow which highlights the advertisment area. Now just think of the adopt-a-light concept and you’ll get the idea: public toilets that offer free sanitation and are financed through advertisment and a possible sale of urine as fertilizer (in case of waterless urinals with urine diversion). With an average exposure time of 40 seconds, these ads make sense and are read by most (male) customers.
2. cotton (ear) swabs with paper sticks
Cotton swabs or Q-Tips made out of rolled paper instead of extruded plastic. Not that the paper approach is such a new invention, but most supermarkets still only sell the plastic version so far. I bought this package as pictured above the other day for EUR 0,55 – the plastic version next to it was 10 €-cents cheaper.
My interest in these is because while working on a treatment plant, I came across HUGE amounts of plastic sticks from Q-Tips in various pumpes and pipes which had to be cleaned daily because of these plastic items some people out there for some strange reason still keep on disposing of through the toilet. I’ve blogged about this earlier here and here, and since you’ll never be able to change the human behaviour, the only solution obviously is to change the way these products are made. Rolled paper is more likely to dissolve in (waste) water than plastics, and bioplastics may at this time still be too expensive for such a usage.
(the Wikipedia entry says that the rolled paper version is still the most common but since I often only see the plastic version, I wonder on which facts this assumption is based? plastic sticks aren’t good, i think).
3. mobile tooth brushes
Ok now this is pure luxury, not at all sustainable and I can’t see any environmental friendliness, but these mobile, (one-way) toothbrushes are quite handy for those moments when you just need them. I wonder why their sale is limited (in Germany) to airport restrooms only. One brush with paste sells for EUR 1,-. I bought the one in red and gave it to someone special :-)