Explore the world's #1 largest database of ideas and innovations, with over 500,000 inspiring examples.
Trend Reports
Discover why 900 brands rely on our AI-powered Trend Reports to get better, faster insights.
Join over 250,000 subscribers who rely on our weekly newsletter to keep up with need-to-know trends and insights.
Consumer Insights
Uncover major shifts and emerging opportunities with our exclusive PRO research.
Trend Reports
Discover why 900 brands rely on our AI-powered Trend Reports to get better, faster insights.
Join over 250,000 subscribers who rely on our weekly newsletter to keep up with need-to-know trends and insights.
Get special access to premium content, topic tracking and customizable tools through our AI-powered Dashboard.
AI + Human Methodology
Learn how Trend Hunter harnesses the power of artificial intelligence.
Enhance your innovation potential with a deeper understanding of your unique innovation archetype and how your organization benchmarks.
eLearning (NEW)
Prepare for the year's ahead with 100+ lessons, tactics, tools and frameworks with our full learning database.
Advisory & Services
Accelerate innovation and ignite disruptive thinking with our award-winning programs and research.
Trend Reports
Get fast, customized trend reports, presentations and deep dives 20x faster than traditional research.
Get started today with a free consultation, our self-serve tools, or a dedicated program.
Jeremy Gutsche
Ignite your event or virtual event with our CEO, a NY Times Bestselling Author and one of the top innovation keynote speakers.
Our Team of Speakers & Virtual Presenters
Inspire your group with our most popular speakers on innovation, trends, change and futurism.
Custom Training & Events
Bring the Future Festival experience directly to your team or co-hosted custom event.
Get in touch to learn more, ask a question or submit a tip.
About Us
Learn more about Trend Hunter and how we accelerate innovation.
Get answers to common questions about Trend Hunter.
Stay on the cutting-edge with the help of the Trend Hunter community.
Meet the team trusted by hundreds of leading businesses worldwide.
Find opportunities to accelerate your career with the #1 Trend Firm.
Catch up on noteworthy Trend Hunter news and media mentions.
Build a portfolio and put your trend-spotting abilities to the test.
Supercharge your marketing by partnering with Trend Hunter.
Visit your public portfolio and browse your past articles.
Add a Trend
Write up an article and showcase your trend-spotting skills.
My Trends
Edit your articles and see how they stack up on the leaderboards.
Edit your profile, connect your social media accounts, and more.
Add a trend, customize your dashboard, or track topics.
Future Festival
Innovation Events
Join the world's top innovators at our FREE Virtual events.
Free Webinars
During COVID-19, learn to innovate through chaos, navigate the new normal and maintain work culture from home.
Custom Training & Events
Bring the Future Festival experience directly to your team or co-hosted custom event.
Search our database of 500,000 cutting edge ideas.

Westernization of Toilets

Beijing Rethinks Squat Down Washrooms for Olympics

— June 11, 2007 — Unique
BYOTP – Bring Your Own Toilet Paper

That's tip number one for anyone planning a visit to Beijing.

That and prepare to lower your standards as well as your stance – squatting is still the way they to go in many parts of Asia.

But where is the trend, then? How is this old fashioned hole-in-the-ground anything new?

Well, they do argue that they are much ahead of the times when it comes to being more sanitary. They argue that Westerner's have poor hygiene standards and opt to squat even when using European toilets. Forget laying down paper, they get right up on the lid and straddle the seat.

But really, they are making advances. An article published by Reuters earlier this week commented on Beijing's desire to make the city's restrooms more Western-friendly. Signs, for example, must also be written in English, and those already labelled “WC” must be relabelled as “toilets”.

“In many Western countries the don't use the term W.C. at all,” the Beijing Morning Post reported. “In English, it's the equivalent to what we would call in China an outhouse, and is a rather crude slang term.”

Right: so their concern is the title of their bathrooms?

They should worry more about signs saying “Piss is OK, but shit, no way!” that are frequently posted outside public facilities. Stocking up on toilet paper should also be a priority—Westerns aren't used to packing a personal stash of TP for that tinkle-on-the-run.

Pity the Westerner who dares taste some authentic Asian cuisine: and ends up with the trots. He may be momentarily relieved to finally find a bathroom, yet will be utterly bewildered when he discovers a long trough where “privacy” consists of half-metre high dividers.

It's not uncommon to watch Westerners walk into public bathrooms and right back out: only to walk back in again: and then out a few seconds later. Their bladders are ready to rupture, but their heads are not quite willing to allow themselves relief.

But the bladder often wins, and then it is time to pop a squat. Which way to face? Towards the drain or away? Women need to learn to aim for the first times in their lives. Once the optimal butt leverage has been established, and feet are planted on the ground, she must find a way to balance herself. Steadying herself on the urine-soaked ground is not really an option (women have a real hard time with this whole aiming thing!) since soap is rarely provided at the sinks.

Sound too horrible to be true? It gets worse, as reported be
“Hutongs (old alleyways) also frequently have public toilets as many residents will not have toilets in their homes, only buckets for nighttime and elderly.” Woah.

Because of the variation in toilet qualities, the Chinese government rates public bathrooms with a star system. The one-star variety, for example, is flushed out with water once or twice a day, depending on traffic.

Toilets can be quite the awkward experience, and one of the best ways to study the incredible ability to juggle several tasks at once. It's quite possible to catch a glimpse of a fellow squatter, newspaper spread across the knees, sending an SMS with one hand, while puffing away on a Marlboro with the other.

And we thought we understood the art of multi-tasking?

Forget about learning the Chinese term for “pass the T.P.”, not only is there no toilet paper, but speaking is taboo bathrooms. No one makes eye contact, no on exchanges a word.

But really, they have made progress, and there is a trend. The automated flush squatter. Still a hole in the ground, still a urine-soaked floor, still no toilet paper, but here, when you step aside, the sensor detects you are no longer squatting and the bowl is rinsed out.