In the event of a natural disaster, a person’s most basic needs — food, water, shelter, electricity — are often compromised. But one necessity often overlooked is the availability of working toilets. In the wake of recent natural disasters in Japan such as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and the Kumamoto earthquakes of 2016, Tokyo-based design company nendo teamed up with hardware supplier Sugita-Ace to combat this problem by designing a simple, innovative portable toilet kit they’ve dubbed the minimLET.

all of the parts included in the minimLET portable toilet kit

One of the biggest challenges of designing a portable toilet is, quite simply, its portability. Nendo’s designers downsized their toilet kit into six items: a toilet seat, aluminum pipes, nylon tent cloth, pocket tissues, garbage bags and coagulant. Bulky elements such as the tent or the toilet seat had to be either scaled down or eliminated entirely. The minimLET works around these issues by having multifunctional parts: the aluminum poles can be used to prop up the toilet seat or support the nylon tent, which can also function as a poncho.

Cheap, everyday items can also add functionality to the kit, and in a modern city like Tokyo, are often available at or near evacuation centers. Bearing this in mind, the minimLET’s structure can also be supported with a plastic umbrella, tin cans, or plastic bottles.

four plastic bottles can be used to prop up the seat

the fully assembled kit (with included tent for privacy) plus an umbrella and plastic bottles for support

prototype sketch

The entire kit fits into a bag about the size of a laptop case. The bag itself has a gusseted bottom which can hold up to 16 liters of water, or roughly the amount needed for two toilet flushes.

the minimLET’s carrying case is slim, compact, and waterproof and can hold up to 16 liters of water

The minimLET is scheduled for retail launch in 2018 in Japan. With the increasing frequency of natural disasters and the limited access to toilets in many developing countries, one hopes that portable toilet kits like the minimLET can serve people in need worldwide.