Toilet Equity

A nonprofit organization

$28,325 raised by 51 donors

71% complete

$40,000 Goal

Toilet Equity is a Grand-Junction, Colorado based non-profit, working to provide equitable toilet access for those without, in service of community and environmental health.  We were founded in 2022 by a group of friends with careers in finance, law, community-building, public health, and medicine. 

In the world we want to help create:

  • Everyone has access to a clean toilet, providing toilet privacy.
  • Those who need to can hygienically manage menstruation.
  • Human feces never contaminates water or soil, reducing the occurrence of fecal-oral disease.
  • Fecal energy is recycled back to the land through aerobic composting. 

There are over 500 unhoused people living in the Grand Valley with variable and insecure access to a toilet. The seven existing public toilets are not enough to meet this demand. We are partnering with local organizations and businesses who host our toilet in their parking lots. These toilets help provide 24/7 equitable toilet access for the unhoused population of the Grand Valley.

Your donation helps us build and maintain toilets primarily for use by the unhoused community of the Grand Valley. Our toilets are 100% donor-funded, volunteer-built, and volunteer-maintained. Our volunteers round on our toilets every day to ensure that they are clean, fully stocked, and safe for our users and the surrounding community. Our goal is to install seven toilets throughout the Grand Valley in 2023. Each toilet costs around $1000 to build and $25 a month to maintain. If you're able, a recurring donation helps us plan how many toilets we can build!

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Giving Activity

Mission

Creating equitable toilet access for those without, in service of community and environmental health

Background Statement

If you think about it, everybody has a memorable toilet story, whether in your own home, on a road trip, while camping, or traveling in a foreign country. My name is Paul Padyk. I’m a husband, father of two sons, and an emergency medicine physician who grew up near the ocean and migrated to the Wild West of Colorado in pursuit of flowing rivers and wide open spaces. On my way, I’ve backpacked, bicycled, kayaked, rafted and driven throughout much of the US. Along those paths, I have used many unsavory toilets. I suppose I managed the foul toilet at hand by holding my nose, diverting my eyes, and hurrying up my business. It wasn’t until my family and I traveled 10 years ago that the seed of toilet access was planted in my head. Funny how a few malodorous experiences can string together so many events from my life.

During that year of travel, we visited several continents. My family and I were heading by car to a high Himalayan valley. Earlier that day we had eaten at a local restaurant, and something was rapidly loosening my intestines. In the surrounding valley, there were a few farmhouses along a small creek and few trees to duck behind. I asked our driver to pull over. He saw me scrambling around and motioned to one of the farmhouses. I’m not sure what universal sign I used, or maybe it was my facial expression, but the farmer understood and pointed me to a flat platform with a central hole over the creek. Fully exposed, I watched my diarrhea drop into the creek and wash away. Grateful for the relief, I moved on with the day, noting the “rough” personal and environmental conditions of that toilet.

Later in the trip, while living in a mountain city, my son and I walked through a central square after a festival weekend and noticed two large open piles of poop against a building wall. At ten-years-old, he looked at the two piles and exclaimed “GROSSSSSSSSS!”. I agreed with him and then casually said, "they need port-a-potties”. Over the next few days, we watched those piles melt away in the rain, running off into the local waterways. Several weeks later, all of us were trekking through the mountains and my wife became ill with a gastrointestinal illness. She recovered through the use of locally effective antibacterial and antiparasitic medications, but the experience enforced the concept of fecal-oral disease transmission and left an indelible mark on me.

Twenty years ago, as our family was just beginning, my wife and I bought a small cabin in the mountains. The folks we bought the place from had built the structure themselves and were rightfully proud of their effort. They were especially happy to show us their “compost” toilet built following the instructions of Joseph Jenkins in his first edition of Humanure. The toilet is simple: poop and pee into a plastic garbage can to which sawdust is added. The sawdust eliminates the odor and sets up the correct conditions for aerobic composting. When the can is full, it gets turned out into a properly constructed composting pile. After a year or so, the pile has become organic compost. Elegant in its simplicity, we’re still using that same toilet all these years later.

In the fall of 2021, I was riding my bicycle on the bike path along the Colorado River in my hometown of Grand Junction, CO. The riparian growth is thick, hiding the encampments of the many people who call the riverbanks home. I frequently float on the river too, which gives me a different view from where I can easily see many of the camps. I wonder where these people take care of the need to defecate. Public toilets are relatively far from the river and often closed, and shopkeepers usually make their facilities available only to paying customers. I suspect many of the river campers are defecating wherever it is safe and convenient. As I pondered this question, a movie projector in my head started replaying a loop of toilets from my own travels. I finished the ride thinking hard about toilet access. As I rolled the idea around I kept looking for the “bad” in providing toilet access for people who don’t have any. The only answers that came to me are that toilet access provides human dignity and gender equity, while addressing a huge public health issue. With that realization, Toilet Equity was born.

Organization Data

Summary

Organization name

Toilet Equity

Year Established

2022

Tax id (EIN)

88-1445454

Category

Human Services, Community Improvement & Capacity Building, Environment

Organization Size

Small Organization

Address

167 LITTLE PARK RD # 5
GRAND JCT, CO 81507

Service areas

Grand Junction, CO, US

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