I generally go to the Seaport Market in Halifax each week. I am a fan of the crepes and generally like to buy my vegetables and eggs at this market. The market works at being environmentally conscious, having a roof top garden and using the water from the roof for the toilets.
I was struck by how hard it is to make policy clear to everyone when I overheard a young person’s voice in the bathroom at the market. This young lady was suggesting that BOTH of the buttons on the back of the toilet should be pushed. Take a look at the picture – the sign indicates the button for liquid waste and for solid waste.
The sign did not indicate that this was an “or” option. That you would press one for solid “or” the other one for liquid. Therefore in the presence of both solid and liquid waste, both buttons should be pushed, according to the sign. This, of course, is exactly what the designer of these toilets does not want, as the goal of the sign is to reduce water usage.
This overhead conversation made me think about all of the policies that I have read – and helped draft – and how hard it is to make sure that an explanation makes sense to everyone who reads it. Perhaps a committee would come up with “Push this button if solid waste is present – otherwise push this one” with some arrows, of course.
There are variations on this point. Best practices could be to read a policy and see what a literal interpretation of the words actually would mean. Or maybe we should ask a child to read our notices to make sure that they make sense!