A toilet co-operative?
It is a difficult process turning an idea into a business. Cooperatives are businesses with the special added extra ingredient of cooperation.
Take toilets for example.
We all need to use them and our public spaces need them. Older citizens, tourists, our neighbours with varying disabilities, children, parents and the general throng will need to use a public lavatory at some point in their lives.
Globally, 2 billion people don’t have access to a toilet. That’s roughly 40% of the global population and means that around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s almost 800 children per day, or one child every two minutes.
In London, there is an ongoing problem that hinders many vulnerable citizens from engaging in the public realm with dignity.
Islington currently maintains eight public toilets, seven are automated with a 20 pence charge and only one, at Chapel Market is an attended public lavatory.
Local authorities in London are generally wary about paying for and supplying public toilets. They are deemed expensive, dirty and dangerous.
Some public lavatories can be things of beauty
As a budding cooperative we must believe that it is possible to run a sustainable public lavatory that is well maintained, attractive and promotes the common Good in Islington.
Can public toilets actually be a viable business? The following is a list of transactions that a toilet cooperative might use to generate a viable business:
1. Membership fees (for individuals and institutions)
2. Sale of cleaning and personal health products. Promote environmentally friendly and locally made cleansing products using wings Co-operative to deliver.
3. Training courses including apprenticeships. Training courses include teaching toilet hygiene and a variety of courses around health and safety.
4. Rentals of portaloos for events. We rent out portaloos for events on Gillett Square. 5. Usage fees. We charge around 50 pence per use of the lavatory.
A viable toilet cooperative in Ilsington could save enough from trading to establish other branches of the co-operative across London, the United Kingdom and globally.
This is the beginning of a business plan for an imaginary cooperative. We have answered three important questions:
● The purpose of of the Co-operative?
● The focus for the co-operative?
● The transactions we will engage in to exchange value?
This pictures are of the Hudertwasser designed public lavatory in New Zealand.
Go and see if you can do the same in your co-operative’s business planning?