• What You Need to Know About Portable Sanitation for Every Occasion

    POSTED March 4, 2018

    Potty Smarts

Ah, California. Home to year-round street fairs, farmers markets, parades, festivals, concerts and other outdoor events. Whether the activity includes entertainment, teambuilding, music, a social occasion or a press conference at a construction site, sooner or later guests, staff and vendors all gotta go. Enter the portable sanitation industry. 

The Portable Sanitation Association International (psai.org) provides an Industry Code of Excellence, holds an annual convention and trade show, and offers training, education and a certification program that has produced 1,200 Certified Portable Sanitation Professionals since its launch in the 1990s. For meeting and event planners, PSAI serves as a resource for finding a local Portable Restroom Operator (PRO). 

In this industry, one size does not fit all. While the end need is the same, the product offerings differ. Your event may need both basic units for the staff behind the scenes and upscale, stylish facilities for guests. 

Basic units are independent, freestanding plastic stalls (aka “cabins”) with a bench-seat toilet and a urinal. Specialty units include free-standing cabins equipped with interior sinks, as well as larger, handicap-accessible versions. Family-friendly units come with a built-in baby-changing table and colorfully decorated child-size units that include a step stool. You can also rent units with showers, rolling units for high-rise construction projects, and units with crane hooks that can be lifted to the site. Environmentally friendly solar units are delivered on small trailers that attach to a truck hitch. 

The largest executive trailers have multiple stalls and satisfy the needs of movie crews, location weddings, and construction sites. They’re typically wider and taller, with special features including flush toilets, lighting and fans, and the stalls are big enough to accom - modate costumes, ball gowns and cumber - some tool belts.

Trailers run on electric or generator power, boast faux wood flooring and faux marble countertops, porcelain toilets, interior and exterior lighting, air conditioning, heating, hot and cold running water, a sound system, mir - rors and the scent of floral deodorizers. With so many choices, the key is to select a vendor with an inventory of products to match your event needs and attendee profile.

Calculating What You’ll Need

Let’s assume that, between set-up and strike, your meeting day will last eight hours.

For more than 1,000 people, estimate 1 unit per 100 people (i.e., 20 for 2,000; 30 for 3,000; 100 for 10,000). 

Hand-Wash Units: Order one for every 10 standard restrooms. If you have 11 restrooms, you’ll need two handwash units. If you have clusters of restrooms, each cluster needs at least one freestanding hand-wash unit. 

Considerations in Selecting Vendor and Product 

Duration of Event: Include hours required for setup and strike in your calculations.

Location and Landscape: Accessibility for delivery, wheelchairs and service trucks.

Type of Activity: Will restrooms be needed by all attendees during the same short time period (such as a concert intermission), or will they be used at random? 

Weather: Will units be placed in the shade? What if it rains? 

Beverage Consumption: Alcohol increases use.

Profile of the Guests: Seniors, children and guests with disabilities all have different needs. 

Head Count: Remember to include staff, vendors and setup/strike crew.


» Portable restroom operators may stock external hand washing stations and waste-water containers for caterers, as well as temporary fencing and privacy screens

» Your supplier will advise you on how many ADA-compliant units are necessary based on the profile of your event and head count.

» Add 10-20 percent more units if your one-day event includes alcohol or if demand will be high, as during a concert intermission or after a foot race. 

» Consider having a separate cluster of units for staff and volunteers, as well as a dedicated ADA-compliant unit (it’s larger) or private luxury trailer for a celebrity guest.

» Consider hiring an attendant (often available through the PRO) to ensure paper is replaced and the restrooms kept clean for your guests. 

» Hand-wash stations are available in adult and child heights and come with single or multiple basins. 

» Stainless steel portable foodservice sinks with heavy swivel casters are a blessing for caterers. They come as small single units or in a larger version with storage below and a work surface on top. The deluxe units have hot and cold running water as well as a waste-water tank. 

» As with most rentals, the cost per day goes down when you rent for longer term. Units have to be accessible for servicing during a multiday function. Order more to avoid the need.

» In your décor design, be sure to bring in plants, floor covering and outdoor furniture to create a welcoming patio/waiting area. 

Perhaps your attendees have hopped on those electric bikes and e-scooters that are scattered all over metropolitan areas throughout California. That’s old news, no question. Yet it’s a sure bet they’ve never been on a Vintage Electric Cruz Bike, because only 250 of them ever have been made. Mad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop in Carmel has a fleet of these smile generators, as well as a fleet of knowledgeable guides to lead scenic group tours. 



California is one of the most abundant agricultural regions in the world, but a startling number of residents aren’t always sure where their next meal will come from. According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest network of food banks, one in eight Californians struggles with hunger. The situation is especially startling for children; one in five is food insecure.

Hunger is not a supply problem, it’s a logistics challenge. And the meetings and events industry is full of logistics-minded people who are in a position to chip away at it.


There’s gold—and a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed meeting center—in them thar hills.