The Toilet Co-operative – A business plan

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 wary about paying for and supplying public toilets.  They are deemed expensive, dirty and dangerous.

We believe that it is possible to run a sustainable public lavatory that is well maintained, attractive and promotes the common Good.


We want to build the common good of public health through the establishment of public lavatories as our shared commons.  


We will develop a public lavatory on existing commons, in the first instance in Gillett Square, Hackney.


  1. Fair shares offer. We offer fair shares to raise around £200,000
  2. Membership fees (for individuals and institutions)

We ask local non-state institutions with a mandate to deliver services in Gillett Square to pay an annual membership fee.  We ask individuals with interests in Gillett Square to join the co-operative and pay membership fees.

  1. Sale of cleaning and personal health products

We promote environmentally friendly and locally made cleansing products with a delivery system to participating local customers

  1. Training courses including apprenticeships.  Training courses include teaching toilet hygiene and a variety of courses around health and safety.
  2. Rentals of portaloos for events.  We rent out portaloos for events on Gillett Square.
  3. Usage fees.  We charge around 50 pence per use of the lavatory.
  4. Grants.  We secure grants from the state and other donors.


We gain attention by focusing on:

  • public health, 
  • the public lavatory crisis limiting access to the public realm, 
  • a well designed art installation much like Hundertwasser that will become a tourist attraction.

This is the Hudertwasser designed public lavatory in New Zealand.


Our audience includes:

Local users of the Square

Tourists and visitors to events on the Square


We appeal to the twin desires to be healthy and trendy by participating in the co-creation of the commons.


We believe a multi stakeholder co-operative to be the best governance structure for this initiative.

Workers who clean and maintain the lavatories will have a crucial voice in the governance of the co-operative.


We adopt sociocratic forms of communication and organisation.

We join local business chambers and the World Toilet Organisation to create local and global solidarity around public lavatories.


We aim to save enough from trading to establish other branches of the co-operative across London, the United Kingdom and globally.

The core focus will be on securing the entire vertical value chain for public lavatories, thereby promoting a circular local economy.

Top Image from Unsplash Will Wright

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