The movie is titled Mr. Toilet: The World’s # 2 Man. As such, let’s all have one good, hearty immature laugh at its name right now. All better? Good. With that out of the way, allow me to reassure you of a few things- 1) the toilet, silly though it may be, is accurate; 2) Lily Zepeda’s documentary is an exhaustively detailed, engaging look at bathroom habits and sanitation, and 3) I want to be best friends with Jack Sim; the titular man devoted to bringing clean restrooms to everyone the world over.
In 1957, Singapore was not as prosperous as it is now. Into the slums, Jack Sim was born and saw how poorly maintained restroom facilities led to sickness. Sim would go onto be quite the respectable businessman in the building and real estate world. He would form his own companies, but his real passion came about in 1996 when he created the Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS).
“The global non-profit aims to provide, improve, and maintain proper and hygienic sanitation facilities to everyone, everywhere.”
This group, which is still in operation, advocates for clean toilets throughout Singapore. Then in 2001, Sim founded the World Toilet Organization. The global non-profit aims to provide, improve, and maintain proper and hygienic sanitation facilities to everyone, everywhere. And Mr. Toilet follows Sim as he jet sets around the world, bringing humor, heart, and humility to a much-needed but oft-overlooked health conversation.
For me, the issue of clean sanitation and access to it is absolutely something I took for granted. Mr. Toilet showed me how foolish that idea was. In India, it is common practice to defecate outside, near a river or stream. Aside from the obvious issues of walking around feces, during the rainy season, all the poop will flow down into the waterways. This creates a whole different problem.