To flush or not to flush, that is the question

Guest blogger Paul Hinkin, managing director of Black Architecture on the female urinal

We are constantly bombarded with the latest water saving technologies including low flush WC’s and waterless urinals, however there is an area where significant reduction in potable water consumption could be achieved, but for cultural reasons goes unexplored.

I refer to the female urinal. There are now a number of portable devices on the market aimed at the outdoor pursuits and festival goers that allow women to urinate standing up. However there is not yet a female equivalent of the male urinal manufactured by any of the leading sanitaryware manufacturers. This would seem to offer a hugely lucrative market opportunity with a number of significant environmental benefits.

Public female toilets are infamous for their long queues, lack of hygiene and water wastage (a low flush WC uses between two and four litres of water to flush less than 0.5 litres of urine).  According to a survey undertaken by Duravit 26 per cent of women put paper on the seat and flush more than twice and an astonishing six per cent flush four times.  If even a small percentage of women, who make up over half of the worlds population, were to use a urinal, water consumption would be dramatically reduced from around eight litres per use to less than 0.5 litre. This would amount to billions of litres of drinking water being saved annually.

The World Bank has identified that future wars will be fought over water.  Imagine the benefits if a ’socially acceptable’ urinal alternative were available.  Women could then be offered the same choices that men take for granted: to flush or not to flush!

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Read Cath Hassell of Ech2o Consultants’s response to this article

4 Responses to “To flush or not to flush, that is the question”

  1. all women’s toilets should have urinals, similar to male urinals, to be used with urine directors, as above.

  2. I long for the female urinal to arrive. I often need a quick pee but have to wait painfully long in a queue whilst male colleagues are in and out in a couple of minutes. Having left my modesty at the labour room doors when giving birth to my to daughters it would not bother me at all to pee in public (female company only though!)

  3. There once was a female urinal. It was introduced about ten years ago at the German trade fair ISH in Frankfurt. As I recall, it had been designer by a woman for a Dutch sanitaryware company. The reasons put forward were just those listed above, first among them the fact that women tend not to sit on public toilets ever. It was dropped after a few years for lack of commercial success.

  4. I would personally use a urinal, but I would prefer to use the festival type that would mean a female urinary device is needed (unless the woman has learnt to stand without a device) than use a urinal based on female anatomy. Surely the latter type would mean being more exposed. Using a device such as the shewee or whiz enable a woman to be more discreet. I find that trousers only have to be pulled down slightly to use these. Also the whiz is eco-friendly, hydrophobic and antibacterial. They do not need to be washed and dried after every use. A woman using them while hiking or ski-ing wouldn’t be able to wash it. I have used one in public toilets that are too dirty to sit on. Just put it in the reusable plastic bag they arrive in, they do not drip, the device and bag can be reused. If the population is growing, not just for the sake of saving water, but to cut queues, and for the sake of hygiene and equality. female urinals are a brilliant idea.

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