Understanding Sanitation First

by Sumaya Steele

We believe it is of the utmost importance to include human beings in our quest to protect the environment. Sanitation First have been transforming the lives of impoverished people in India whilst working harmoniously with the environment for over 20 years by building clean, private eco-sanitation units. Every year, over 800,000 children under five die from some form of diarrhoea based disease. Sanitation First’s EcoSan toilets help tackle this problem.

The organisation’s ecosan toilets have a host of strengths. 2.4 billion people worldwide do not have access to a toilet, leading to the contraction of diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio, which are carried by faecally contaminated water. These diseases kill many people worldwide, and the way to tackle this major issue is improved sanitation. By building toilets, lives are changed for the better as people are healthier, adults can work and children can stay in school, enabling them to earn more and spend less on expensive medication to treat these diseases. This way, Sanitation First’s EcoSan toilets help combat poverty. 

Here is Wateraid's breakdown of how EcoSan toilets work:

'The EcoSan toilet is a closed system that does not need water, so is an alternative to leach pit toilets in places where water is scarce or where the water table is high and the risk of groundwater contamination is increased. The toilet is based on the principle of recovery and recycling of nutrients from excreta to create a valuable resource for agriculture. 

When the pit of an EcoSan toilet fills up it is closed and sealed. After about eight to nine months, the faeces are completely composted to organic manure and can be used on farms. When the first pit is closed, users can switch to using the second pit'. 

EcoSan toilets not only benefit the health and wealth of people in India but, importantly, are sustainable. Western style flush toilets rely on a huge sewer infrastructure and a constant supply of water to function. The 2.4 billion people without toilets can’t wait for these to be supplied. EcoSan toilets require minimal infrastructure, and are expected to have a 30-year life span. 

Sanitation First’s work positively impacts the lives of many girls and women in India. Due to a lack of toilets, women are forced into a vulnerable position when out looking for places to defecate in rural areas, often in the dark for greater privacy, and are attacked. Toilets provide a safe, private alternative for these women. A girl attending a destitute school in India and starting her period has no access to a private toilet, leading to them having to publicly relieve and clean themselves. 1 in 5 girls in India leave school when they start puberty. By building toilets in schools, girls have access to a private space, making them much more likely to stay in education. Sanitation First also helps remove the stigma of periods by implementing menstrual education programmes in schools.

Often rural schools have no toilets, meaning valuable teaching time is lost and putting children in a stressful position. By building toilets in schools, these problems are resolved. Furthermore, children often tell their family about their new school toilet, encouraging local communities to request toilets for their homes. 

We're proud to support initiatives like Sanitation First, who are working to solve ground zero issues, to help transform the lives of the most impoverished & vulnerable.

Below are a selection of our brands who have attained our Share The Love icon, who work with charity partners:


Free 14-Day Returns

No Animal Testing
No Fur