Poteez: Is Pooping into Cardboard Boxes the Next Big Thing?

What do these people know that we don’t know?

Photo of one woman and three men dressed in suits, each holding a different stylized version of the Poteez cardboard potty.

They are a mom and pop inventor, an investment fund executive and a chartered accountant all agog over UK celebrity endorsements for their toddler product.

Poteez is a cardboard potty “believed to be the first of its kind.” Well, maybe not. Back in 2005, the PottyFlip cardboard potty was profiled in Thinga’s portable potty roundup. Investment bankers don’t read my baby blog. I’m hurt.

Photo of two Poteez cardboard potties with different artwork on the covers, adapted from the photo avoid featuring for people in suits.

All due credit goes to the Poteez folks for making a relatively attractive potty… nothing like the makeshift PottyFlip [image].

Poteez starts flat and folds into position, with a redesigned “pop-up” version reportedly folding within 5 seconds. It is said to be made from recycled cardboard, 100 percent biodegradable and watertight.

As an emergency potty while traveling, it seems useful given that it can be stored completely flat. And by emergency, I mean a rare occasion. That’s cool if every family brings their poop-filled boxes home to rest in their backyard composer. You all have backyard composters, right? Otherwise, it’s just more waste for our overburdened landfills.

Imagine if Poteez becomes wildly popular and garbage cans at ever roadside rest stop are overflowing with these poop boxes.

It doesn’t stop there. The inventors consider this potty worthy for home use because it’s more hygienic and convenient than a plastic potty. Find that funny do you? On a purely logical chartered accountant type of basis I have to agree with the claim. Millions of families use disposable diapers for the same reason — toss it in the trash to be done with it.

Oh, but think of stuffing dozens of these boxes in your garbage can every week. Or do you have a really big compost bin? How long, exactly, does it take cardboard to decompose? What’s it smell like when you stick your pitchfork into your compost to turn the debris, puncturing the box to spread the stuff around (you have to do that, you know, to help along the decomposition process).

Maybe they could design a spout on the box so you can pour the contents into your toilet.

Really, the problem is the overreaching claims about the versatility of a cardboard potty. It may have its place, but it should be a very narrowly defined place… emergency use while on the road.

But on the other hand, I wonder how many plastic potties get reused by new owners before they just get thrown away. How many parents would never even buy a used plastic potty? By all rights, the market should be overflowing with used plastic, but it’s not.

In that respect, what’s more environmentally friendly — a plastic potty for each child born that takes hundreds or thousands of years to break down into toxic sludge seeping into our ground water, or a vast sea of cardboard potties filling our landfills? Tough call.

Yes? No? Would you buy a cardboard potty?

Update: This comes by way of my earthy aunt:

“As you might remember, I have a composting toilet in my cottage. It has four compartments inside a rotating carousel. Every six months I empty the
oldest (2-years-old) and fill it with peat and start that new
compartment under my toilet shoot. According to the manufacturer, it
takes about 2 years for human waste to safely compost, even if it just sits
there without turning. Bacteria just work on it, not unlike the familiar
garden and kitchen waste composters.

Composting sounds less and less like an option.


16 Responses to “Poteez: Is Pooping into Cardboard Boxes the Next Big Thing?”

  1. Allison (CodeCrafter) says:

    We have yet to get to the potty training stage but I don’t see my self ever buying a cardboard potty. I haven’t investigated potty training at all yet but would love to hear about some earth friendly potty training ideas…

    Also I thought you aren’t suppose to put poop in your compost pile because it doesn’t get hot enough usually to kill the nasties and can attract bugs?

    April 23rd, 2008 at 6:15 am

  2. lindsey says:

    I would probably buy one….but I would use it for emergency car potty situations. We take road trips a few times a year, and very often we’re stuck “holding it” because we’re too far into the middle of nowhere to get to a bathroom. Toddlers don’t know the meaning of “hold it”. ;)

    I can’t see using them at home, honestly, how much convenience does one need? Either buy a smaller seat for the big potty, or get a little plastic potty. Either way, it isn’t THAT inconvenient to just dump/flush.

    April 23rd, 2008 at 6:53 am

  3. Marketing Mommy says:

    Sheesh, I didn’t relish the potty training process, but I somehow managed without a pop-up cardboard potty, a talking potty chair, Pull-ups, a sticker chart and other supposed necessities. We got a folding potty seat that fit over public toilets until my daughter announced that she wanted to sit on the “big seat.” Once or twice I had to assist her as she watered the bushes (emergency–no toilet for a mile), but I even if I’d purchased a cardboard potty, I can’t imagine I’d have remembered to stick it under the stroller for a walk to the park.

    April 23rd, 2008 at 7:39 am

  4. Christina says:

    I can see having one in the car for emergencies, but only if we were doing a road trip to like, west Texas, because most places you can find someplace to go to the bathroom, even if you have to buy something in the convenience store for the priviledge.

    This post inspired me to look up potties on my local craigslist; I actually did find a few (they all say never used, used only clothed, or used once) and just sent an email of enquiry on one. It’s plastic; it cleans.

    April 23rd, 2008 at 8:23 am

  5. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    When we were growing up, my dad had a camping potty in the back of the car for those side of the road emergencies.

    I can’t imagine using a cardboard potty. What if it collapsed while my kid was sitting on it? How would THAT encourage him to go?

    April 23rd, 2008 at 9:03 am

  6. Summer says:

    Not a totally awful idea. But I think maybe a waste of trees. I don’t need anyways – my daughter just finished potty training successfully this week! Woo hoo finally! She hasn’t had a mess in two weeks! And she even went at a Target and at the stadium when we went to an Orlando Magic Playoff game! Success indeed! Only now she wants a treat every time she goes! LOL

    April 23rd, 2008 at 9:09 am

  7. Rebecca says:

    I potty-trained 2 girls and they both just sat on the toilet, no special adaptations needed. I have always been a bit grossed out by child potties, I am definitely not into the cardboard. Who wants a cardboard box full of your toddler’s waste hanging out in the car with you on a long roadtrip? I’ll take the side of the road any day!

    April 23rd, 2008 at 9:28 am

  8. JMo says:

    No No No
    This is just wrong.

    April 23rd, 2008 at 10:45 am

  9. Cindi says:

    I agree with you about disposable. There has to be a way to make if more environmentally safe! I have a question. I thought that most plastic bottles that go in the recycle bins, were recycled and not put in landfills. Is that not the case? Thanks,Cindi

    April 23rd, 2008 at 10:55 am

  10. Jessica G. says:

    Not a bad idea for long car travel. The assembly issue is a big one – when my oldest has to “go” she makes sure we all know it is an immediate issue as in NOW.

    Although, we thought about just taking her Baby Bjorn potty and using a plastic grocery bag to line it. Not sure if that is worse than using a recycled cardboard potty but it certainly is simple.

    I am a big fan of the simple, non-slip base, easy to clean Bjorn potty. No bells, whistles, batteries, high-fives or anything fancy. Did I mention easy to clean? I can not believe how many pottys are sold that have nooks and crannies that could trap any number of nasty things.

    As for using those porta-pottys at home? Forgeddaboudit. I can not imagine the pile of garbage that would create.

    April 23rd, 2008 at 11:48 am

  11. Erica says:

    We’re currently semi-potty training in our house. My grandfather built a wooden potty chair for our daughter that has a removable plastic insert for the actual waste (much easier to keep clean than if it were all wood, of course). It’s also complete with a toilet paper roll and magazine rack, where we keep the two potty books she has. It makes her feel like she has a grown-up potty, but she can easily sit on it herself (a plus for mom and dad) and she doesn’t have to hold herself up on the big potty with her hands (that always grosses me out). As for the cardboard? Ummm, no. Doesn’t seem sturdy enough, is kinda gross sounding, and hiding behind bushes is good enough for us for traveling. I’ll pass, please.

    April 23rd, 2008 at 1:08 pm

  12. LiteralDan says:

    This really seems like a solution looking for its problem. But good for a regular Joe(sephine) getting presumably a bunch of money and power for this, I guess.

    April 24th, 2008 at 9:47 pm

  13. jennifer bowen says:

    oh joy a box full of poo what next? that just as bad as well the brown paper bag of dog poo

    April 25th, 2008 at 6:00 pm

  14. jessie says:

    no i would not buy a cardborad potty

    May 19th, 2008 at 10:06 am

  15. David & Maree says:

    Thank you for discussing our Poteez.
    We are always particularly interested in the negative feedback as it gives us direction to make improvements. We are a new business with a new product and appreciate we may not have got it right the first time out.
    Poteez are primarily a travel accessory for the parents convenience. We firmly believe in the concept and those that have used them, now regard them as an essential “emergency” item for the boot of the car. Its not always convenient to “squat” your child down in a layby.
    The Poteez is safe, strong and easy to use and because it is made from recycled paper and is itself bio degradeable, it must be a better option than putting a child back in disposable nappies – surely?
    Visit our website and try them for yourself – if you are still not convinced I’ll send you a bottle of wine!

    Kindest regards,

    May 29th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

  16. Granny Eileen says:

    We had a Poteez potty made up ready in the car (very firm to sit on!) Grandaughter Lucy was car sick in it and it worked brilliantly. Havent needed to use it as emergency potty yet.

    August 2nd, 2008 at 12:28 pm