Today, we activated the high-tech biotoilet that had been donated last summer by Groundwork Mishima, an environmental group in Japan, and installed with the help of our Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association volunteers. We put out a press release about the upcoming ribbon-cutting, which led to some of the funnier headlines I've seen in the local press. A sampling:
$70000 bio-toilet a stinky token of friendship (which, by the way, is inaccurate--it has no odor)
and, of course,
I took a lot of ribbing from friends about that last one, especially when they learned that I'd written the original press release (but not with that headline)!
The toilet is pretty special, by the way. For $70,000 you get a completely bio-friendly toilet donated by the Japanese environmental group Groundwork Mishima, with low energy consumption, a self-contained, self-cleaning water recycling system, no odor, and (Japan is wonderful this way) a heated seat! It uses a cedar chip and microbe system to literally "digest" the human waste. They've been using them in Japan on Mount Fuji for almost ten years, and they require virtually no maintenance besides adding a few cedar chips now and then. When they winterize them by letting the water out of them, it tests so clean that you could literally drink it. (The inventor of the toilet was here for the dedication today and said he has actually demonstrated that! Superintendent Uberuaga's reaction was "we won't go there today!")
I took some photos of the event, which I've posted on my personal website if you're interested. KOMO TV was on hand and did a great story about it, which you can read on their website and watch on YouTube. Here's my favorite screen capture:
That, of course, is not Superintendent Uberuaga, but Sho Morita, the group's translator. Other than that one misplaced label, KOMO's report was outstanding... and even managed to avoid making cheap jokes about our expensive toilet!