How One Man is Turning Taboo Toilet Talk into Social Impact
Making toilets talking points and fashionable is how Jack Sim AKA ‘Mr.Toilet’, founder of the World Toilet Organization is solving the world’s sanitation problem that affects millions.
A see-through toilet in Tokyo recently made a buzz on social media. Jack explains that “Japan’s toilet culture is the highest in the world”, but just like in other countries, public toilets have a stereotype of being dark, dirty, smelly, and scary. The see-through ‘Tokyo Toilet’ is one of 17 designs created to dispel this image while making toilets safer and more accessible. Dubbed the Tokyo Toilet Project, it is created by the Nippon Foundation with Jack as the project’s overseas-promotion advisor.
Jack is no stranger to this strategy of media exposure. From wearing toilet-related cosplay to putting a giant toilet outside of the UN HQ, it’s all part of a mission to make the rather embarrassing, taboo topic of toilets fashionable and palatable and transform “poop culture” into pop culture to make our world a safer place. He even has his own movie documentary: “Mr.Toilet, World’s No.2 Man”. The similarity between the name of his organization World Toilet Organization, which he setup in 2001, and the World Trade Organization may seem like an accident but this was also deliberate, another clever ploy to grab the media limelight for the toilet agenda.
Integrating with Politics and People
“Over half of the global population or 4.2 billion people lack safe sanitation and around 297,000 children under five – more than 800 every day – die annually from diarrheal diseases due to poor hygiene, poor sanitation, or unsafe drinking water.”
In countries where people still defecate out in the open, a practice that is not safe and spreads disease, Jack’s organization empowers local governments and people to fix the problems themselves. Education and advocacy have been the key to making toilets a priority and reminding people that they are crucial for the quality of life.
The unique synergy he blends between pop-culture, politics, and real people has been a proven methodology to affect actual change. As Jack explains, “the sanitation agenda attracted the media, which in turn attracted the politicians. And when they win office, of course, they have to deliver their promise. And then public policy and budgets get allocated.”
Driven by Purpose and Passion
After a career of being a successful businessman, Jack recognized a higher calling: "Service is the highest quality of life. And if we can serve and help other people, the joy in our heart is the reward." Through his coordinated efforts to put sanitation center stage, Jack has helped millions gain access to clean and safe toilets. Nevertheless, there is still much work to be done. “I believe that one day everybody in the world will have access to proper clean toilets with proper sewage treatment, anytime, anyplace whenever they need it.”
ANA BLUE WING’s Support
Readers, you can help Jack through a new type of collaboration created by ANA (All Nippon Airways). The BLUE WING program makes it easy to support Changemakers like Jack that are finding innovative and practical ways to impact millions of lives across the globe. ANA supports Changemakers and their organizations by reducing the cost to fly staff around the world and focus their resources on the essential work they do.
“[People] want to establish trust and relationships which you cannot achieve online. You have to go to them and as an NGO with limited funds, that is where ANA tickets help me.”