No Portable Toilet Rentals? Here are Alternatives

It’s summer 2021, after a pandemic year, and everyone’s excited to get back to outdoor festivals, fun runs, and just plain having a good time with family reunions and camping adventures. If you’re one of the hundreds of planners organizing an outdoor event, you may have just found out there are no portable toilet rentals until September – or later. How is this possible?

Summer is always a busy time for porta potty rentals, but several states are experiencing portable toilet backlogs in 2021 that will last through October. Here’s a brief explainer on why this is happening and what you can do if you can’t get a delivery when you need it.

Why is there a shortage of portable toilet rentals?

Summer is a busy time even in a regular year. Summer festivals. Fun runs. Construction projects. DIY. There is always an increase in demand for portable toilet rentals in summer. In 2021, though, there are more reasons for shortages.

  • Labor shortage. It’s an incredibly competitive hiring market in the waste services industry right now. A shortage of qualified workers means companies sometimes don’t have enough drivers or service personnel to deliver, pickup and service all the units as quickly as they can in slower times.
  • Rise in materials costs. Some of our haulers are telling us they’re seeing a rise of more than 300% in the cost of materials – including the cost of new porta potties and replacement parts – and delivery wait times are six months or longer due to ongoing supply chain delays.
  • Demand is high. People are ready to be outside and socializing again, and there’s an increase in demand for portable toilets and toilet trailers.

Now that you know what makes 2021 an unusual year, what are your porta potty alternatives?

Alternatives to portable toilet rentals

You may have seen the plastic five-gallon camping toilets you can carry with you on backpacking trips. A quick search for “portable camping toilets” will bring up a variety of options designed for easy, pack-and-carry convenience. There are styles that feature a regular toilet seat on a plastic container. There are also styles that look like folding chairs with plastic bags underneath. While these are certainly options, and they’re readily available from any camping retailer, you do have other options.

Composting toilets look more like regular toilets (though smaller) and they have the benefit of feeling a little sturdier when you’re seated. There is no water in composting toilets, which might make them easier to transport.

There are also flushable camping toilets (sometimes these are marketed as portable RV toilets) that have water tanks to give you more of a traditional toilet experience. However, keep in mind this may use a lot of water depending on the number of guests. If eco-friendliness is a concern, look into waterless camping toilet options. There are many on the market.

One of the benefits of these portable camping options is you can purchase a pre-made camping toilet tent (yes, you can pick these up from a camping retailer), or get creative and make your own privacy tent. How about a privacy fence with flowers and a string of outdoor, solar-powered lights? You can get creative with it.

Traditional outdoor toilet solutions

Let’s be honest, a public park is not going to let you build an outhouse (although, if it’s private property and the owner gives you permission, an outhouse is easy to build). However, most parks will open their locked bathroom facilities, where available, for an extra fee.

Call the park ranger’s office, or the city recreation department, depending on who manages the park or public space. Ask if they have restrooms available for an extra fee – most do, and most will send someone to open and close the bathrooms while you’re there. They may not be glamorous, and your guests may have to take a hike to get to them, but at least there will be facilities available.

No matter the year or the circumstance, summer is a busy season for outdoor events. Make sure you call and book portable toilets (and fencing, storage containers, and any other services you need) as early as possible. Even if your area is booked solid, you can still use these ideas to keep your event on track.

Give us a call when planning your next outdoor event and get all your waste services booked with one call and one streamlined invoice. Enjoy the summer!

How to Host an Environmentally Friendly Outdoor Event

Going green is important, and that extends to environmentally friendly outdoor events. You may not realize it, but there are several things you can do to make your next outdoor event more eco-friendly. Simple steps like the ones here will help you reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, create an environmentally friendly event, and even achieve your sustainability goals. Get started with these tips.

Offer Group Transportation

Are the majority of the event participants coming from one part of town or will they be flying in around the same time? Offer group transportation to cut back on carbon emissions and reduce everyone’s carbon footprint. Depending on the size of the group, you can arrange for an event van to pick everyone up from one centralized location or arrange for it to pick them up from their hotels and homes. For smaller groups, you can arrange a shared ride in an SUV. As a bonus, no one has to worry about being a designated driver! Group transportation is more than just environmentally friendly – it also gives people a chance to socialize and enjoy themselves without the stress of driving.

Ask About Green Certifications

Many outdoor event venues now boast green certifications. This is especially true with caterers and companies that provide audiovisual equipment rentals. When hiring vendors, ask them if they have green certifications or check their website to find out if they’ve made a public commitment to reduce their carbon impact. Sustainability certifications require vendors to meet a set of criteria, and you can ask them directly about their green efforts. Look for vendors and companies who find ways to reduce their environmental impact.

Use Digital Invitations

What if you didn’t have to spend money on printed invitations for your event? Use digital invitations instead! There are so many digital invitation platforms these days. You’ll have many design options to choose from, including fun animated designs and instant RSVP options that let you know right away how many people to expect. And you can do more than just invite people. Write a newsletter, include fun GIFS, advertise for your event through paid advertising online (if it’s a public event), or even send text messages. Digital invitations are more than just green. They’re also effective! Overall, 85% of Americans go online on a daily basis, so you can be sure your invite will arrive in their inbox (and not get lost in the mail). 

Use Green Products and Utensils

Reusable utensils and dishes are becoming more common for outdoor events and so are utensils made from recycled materials. There are even compostable table linens, plates, and utensils in some areas. When ordering products for your event, look for products that are reusable, compostable or made from recycled materials. If you need single-use linens or utensils, purchase products that can be recycled or will biodegrade quickly when they’re thrown away. 

Go Green with Portable Toilets 

The number of portable toilets you should have at your event depends on the number of people attending and how many hours they’ll be there. Did you know you can save water by ordering the right number of porta potties? Conversely, you’ll waste water and possibly over-pollute if you order the wrong number. Work with a reputable and honest waste provider to ensure you get the right number for your event. While you’re ordering portable toilets, water-free hand sanitation stations save water while ensuring guests can keep their hands clean.  

Don’t Forget Recycling Bins

When scheduling your waste services, ask about recycling bins for your event. Even if it’s a small event, you can create your own recycling bins by clearly labeling bins to differentiate them from regular garbage. Some waste vendors will supply you with recycling bins and even composting bins for food waste (although these are still somewhat rare). If you want to go the extra mile, provide separate bins for glass, paper, food waste, and metal recycling and label each bin. Check with your waste provider to find out what kinds of event recycling are available in your area. We work with planners nationwide to help coordinate event trash and recycling pickup, so we can help you get this sorted.   

Waste disposal is one of the first lines of defense when it comes to protecting the environment. If you’re planning an outdoor event – no matter the season – give us a call to schedule all your dumpster, event fencing, and storage rentals.  

Ask Angela: Pumpkin patches in a COVID-19 world

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Site Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Dear Angela, Pumpkin patches and haunted houses are allowed in our area. We usually host a pumpkin patch in our building’s parking lot, and we want to have one again this year. How should we plan for things to be different in light of COVID-19?

Hey, there. This is a great question for fall. Even in a “regular” year we see a huge increase in demand for portable toilets and hand sanitizer dispensers for fall festivals, pumpkin patches, and haunted houses. There will be fewer festivals this year, but we’re still seeing demand for extra porta potties and especially hand washing stations.

Each municipality has their own recommendations and regulations (and whether or not they’re allowing events to occur at all). In places where outdoor fall events are taking place, it’s likely you’re going to need more portable toilets, hand washing stations, and standalone hand sanitizer dispensers to keep people washing their hands often and thoroughly. And don’t forget to maintain social distancing! Follow your local guidelines.

Here is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of considerations for events. It sounds like you’ll have a small, local community event, so take a look at their recommendations for things like wearing masks, maintaining six feet of distance between people, and providing adequate facilities for hand washing.

If your event is small, and you’ve never ordered portable toilets before, you may want to consider ordering one or two to supplement any indoor bathroom facilities. It depends on whether you’re expecting a lot of people and whether there’s enough room for people to social distance in the available facilities.

Also consider ordering extra hand sanitizer dispensers, and make sure you have plenty of refills available! In a usual year, festivals and haunted houses would have ordered porta potties and hand washing stations at least a few weeks in advance. In fact, they’re often ordered as early as August, depending on the area. This year, with fewer events, you may still be able to put an order in, even as late as mid-October. It really depends on your area and how many events are going on near you.

Any time you’re hosting an outdoor event, give us a call as early as possible to make sure you get the best selection of porta potties, fencing, hand washing stations, and any other site services you’ll need. This year may be different, but late October all the way through December is usually a peak time for toilet and fencing rentals. After Halloween and pumpkin patch season, Christmas tree lots sprout up and people need a lot of porta potties, office trailers, fencing, and storage containers. We like to get people scheduled early so they don’t miss out.

Hope that helps. Stay safe, and have a good pumpkin patch!

5 Reasons You Need an Event Portable Toilet

You’re planning an outdoor event. You found the space, arranged for parking, got the permits, and ordered the food. You even remembered to send out invites! But what’s arguably the most important rental you need to schedule? Portable toilets. Believe it or not, planners do forget about the toilets. And last-minute scrambling to find outdoor event restrooms can be a very costly mistake between rush fees and extra stress. Event portable toilets shouldn’t be an afterthought. No matter how large or small the gathering, here are five reasons you need portable toilets at your next outdoor event.  

Attendee comfort

No event can survive without a toilet nearby. Preferably more than one. Restrooms are critical for attendee comfort (especially if there’s an open bar!). The type of event portable toilet you choose will also affect attendee comfort. A basic porta potty is perfect for events like fun runs and festivals where many porta potties will be lined up along the course. For upscale events, luxury portable toilets and restroom trailers will add to guest comfort. 

Imagine having an outdoor wedding in the heat and humidity of summer. Wouldn’t guests prefer a climate-controlled restroom trailer instead of a standard portable toilet? There are many types of event portable toilets. Choose the options that maximize guest comfort.

Municipal regulations

What is required to meet local regulations? Most municipalities require portable toilets at outdoor events, and they have to be placed in certain locations. There are also permits and servicing guidelines to follow. This varies by location, but fun runs, carnivals, fairs, outdoor theater gatherings, and other events all trigger restroom requirements. Here’s an example of one city code, and it includes things like:

  • Permit requirements and allowable locations
  • How long the toilet can be left outdoors (typically 4-7 days)
  • How often it has to be serviced
  • Penalties for not complying

Some municipalities require a service person to be on site during the event, so event planners need to ensure they’re familiar with and following all municipal regulations. Contact the local permitting office as soon as possible in the planning process to make sure all requirements are met well before the event. 

Event portable toilet best practices

How many toilets are needed? Believe it or not, there’s a formula for that. The American Restroom Association published a set of guidelines to determine how many toilets are required for most outdoor events. Here are the highlights:

  • Most events require at least one toilet for every 300 people. (Expect long lines in that open bar scenario! We suggest one toilet for every 30 to 50 people for maximum comfort.)
  • Events with primarily women and children require at least one toilet for every 200 people. (Parents can empathize, right? But again, that’s probably not enough toilets for a wedding or smaller event.)
  • Events with adults drinking alcoholic beverages require at least one toilet for every 240 people. (Imagine waiting in line behind 239 people, though.)

These are only guidelines. Depending on the event, it’s a good idea to provide more than the suggested number of toilets. If the budget is tight, it’s probably fine to go with the minimum suggested number. But never provide less than the suggested amount (or no toilet at all). That’s a recipe for bathroom disaster.  

Reduce the risk of infection 

We’re living in a time where a pandemic shut down the world. Suffice it to say, the more hand washing stations, the better. Yes, it’s possible to rent additional hand sanitizing stations for outdoor events. It’s also possible to rent restroom trailers with running water and flushing toilets, if water hookups are available. And for multi-day events, it’s possible to request additional sanitizing services.

For more information about hand washing station requirements during a global pandemic (and really, it’s good advice in general), refer to the CDC’s website. Always provide adequate hand washing stations and hand sanitizer to help lower the risk of infection. Read the latest rules and best practices before finalizing the event planning.   

Keep things clean!

Let’s be real. Providing at least one portable toilet at an outdoor event will prevent people from going rogue. (No one wants to see their guests “watering the plants” after too many drinks at the bar.) Renting event portable toilets isn’t only about guest comfort. It’s also about keeping the outdoor space clean.

The location should be left in the same condition it was in when guests arrived. Portable toilets, along with proper garbage disposal, helps keep the area from getting trashed during the event. This protects the environment. And it prevents disputes with residents who have to live with the clean-up when the event ends.  

Event portable toilets are easy to rent, and they can make or break guest comfort. Give us a call to have an account manager help schedule the right type and number of portable toilets for your next event.