Tag Archives: non-profits

The World Needs a Better Toilet

In the United States we seldom think about the importance of toilets. Good hygiene and working sewage is just something that the average citizen assumes will always be there, and always work. However, this is not true for the rest of the world where hygiene is a critical health and wellness issue.

More than half of the world’s population – roughly 4.5 billion people – live without access to toilets and the safe sanitation they provide. Estimates are that globally, unsafe sanitation costs the world’s population $223 billion (yes, billion) a year in higher health care costs, lost productivity, and lost wages. It is an issue that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is taking very seriously, pledging $200 million over the past seven years to help reinvent toilets, and pledging another $200 million more to get companies to understand the problem – and business –  of human waste.

At the Reinvented Toilet Expo, held last fall in Beijing, companies showcased new toilets that could recycle water, separate urine from other waste, and even with solar roofs. Mr. Gates told the audience that human waste contains 200 trillion rotavirus particles, 100,000 parasitic worm eggs, and other harmful organisms.

This might not be an easy subject to discuss, and a lot of bad jokes will undoubtable be told in class, but it is an issue that affects the world, and one that product innovation can help to solve.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the business of waste, sanitation, and fixtures.
  2. What happens when sanitation is poor? What are the impacts?
  3. Show Bill Gates video: https://youtu.be/M9nRsJinHhM
  4. View Gates Foundation site: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/
  5. View Toilets for People for an example of a business: https://www.toiletsforpeople.com/
  6. Have students research other companies with a similar mission and objective.
  7. What social issues matter to the students?

Source: Wee, Sui-Lee (6 Nov. 2018). In China, Bill Gates encourages the world to build a better toilet. New York Times.

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Fund-Raising with Healthy Options

We can usually tell when it is fund-raising season for schools and sports. Kids stop by houses and businesses, selling chocolate bars and other items to help fund a variety of programs and causes. And, although we happily buy and eat the candy, there can be some regrets over the empty calories, and the lack of sales going to local businesses. Wouldn’t it be better to offer healthy alternatives, and support local businesses? Of course! Enter a new company: FarmRaiser – connects fundraising groups with local products and foods.

FarmRaiser was founded in Michigan with a mission to connect local farmers and food artisans with schools, athletic teams, bands, and other causes. Vendors must meet standards for sustainable practices, and artisan products that do NOT list sugar as the first ingredient are welcome. The company states that “if a product has more than five or six ingredients, and if any of them are ones your grandma wouldn’t recognize it doesn’t make the cut.”

Campaigns are customized by working with a FarmRaiser “cultivator” to help determine fund-raiser goals, local products, and vendors. Each campaign also gets its own Web page on FarmRaiser.com. The company estimates that 85% of funds raised stays in the community; the average profit margin is 53% for the groups. The process is straightforward: once the cause is registered, FarmRaiser helps create a custom online and mobile market. At the end of the sale period, students help distribute the produce and products to their customers. Groups can choose various products and goods from multiple regions. Try combining Michigan cherries, with Texas Salsa.

What sounds good to you?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the fundraising activities that students might have done. Discuss what was it about, proceeds, products, process, etc.
  2. Introduce the topic of changing the product mix and sales process.
  3. Show a video about the company: https://vimeo.com/147806697
  4. Show Web site: https://www.farmraiser.com/
  5. Divide students into team. Have each team select a cause and develop a product set.
  6. Set SMART objectives for the company.

Source: Rieth, D. (Summer 2018). Home field advantage. Edible Michiana.

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