I spent the first two weeks of my quarantine shitting in a portapotty in the parking lot of my building. It wasn't great — but hey, at least it was always stocked with hand sanitizer.
The contractors I'd hired to renovate my bathroom were not so good on timeliness or communication before the pandemic started. And it only got worse from there. So I drove 300 miles in late March where I could at least be with my pregnant wife, and where at least I could shit indoors.
I returned home the other day to find that the bathroom still wasn't finished (though at least I could shower and shit now). Disappointed, I began to unpack my things, and ended up listening to this new NPR Short Wave podcast, which strangely made me feel better. It traces the history of indoor plumbing — including the uphill battle of trying to get people to understand that no, actually, a centralized sewage system will be better for your sanitation, and you shouldn't worry about the shit from other peoples' shit infecting your home. It goes on to explain how things such as porcelain/tiling and first-floor "powder rooms" actually served utilitarian purposes, making it easier for people to distance themselves from potential disease carriers, or clean things off after hosting guests with uncertain medical histories.
To be clear, I'm not sure why this made me feel better about my frustrating bathroom contracting experience. Or the deadly virus that continues to rage just outside my doors. Read the rest
San Francisco's housing crisis is also (of course) a homelessness crisis, and homelessness crises beget public defecation crises -- and San Francisco has a serious public defecation crisis.
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Humans take hot showers, wash their sheets, and use soaps, disinfectants, hand sanitizers and all sort of other cleansers to keep themselves free of dirt and germs. And yet, after all that effort, chimps win in the clean bed department, at least when it comes to personal bacteria. Yes, according to a study in Royal Society Open Science, chimps sleep in beds that contain less saliva, skin and fecal bacteria than humans.
From National Geographic:
By swabbing abandoned chimpanzee nests in Tanzania's Issa Valley, scientists learned that just 3.5 percent of the bacteria species present came from the chimps’ own skin, saliva, or feces. In human beds sampled in a previous study in North Carolina, the number was a whopping 35 percent.
These findings might seem illogical – how can beds of over-sterile humans be filled with more bacteria from skin, saliva and feces than those of chimps? The answer turns out to be quite simple – chimps make a new bed every night while most humans sleep in the same sheets night after night, letting all that unsavory bacteria build up.
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Humans, on the other hand, tend to sleep on the same sheets night after night, accruing bacteria over time. Then there are our mattresses and pillows, which collect massive amounts of dust mites and dead skin over the years.
Also, while chimps sleep among environmental bacteria from the surrounding forests, humans have more or less eliminated outside bacteria from our sleeping quarters, meaning the stuff that comes from us makes up a bigger percentage of the filth.
The latest fatberg (a hardened mass of condoms, nappies, wet wipes, fat, and other things that people insist on flushing down their toilets) (previously) to clog London's sewers is the Whitechapel whale, measuring 820 feet long, weighing 130 metric tonnes (as much as 11 double-decker buses) (this is a standard measure of fatbergs). Read the rest
One of the high-profile campaigns by India's Prime Minister Modi is an end to the practice of defecating in public places, with access to toilets for all. Read the rest
Paris-based artist Anastassia Elias created these papercraft cityscapes inside toilet paper cores. It was part of November's World Toilet Day, and it was commissioned to bring awareness to the sad state of toilet affairs in many large cities. Read the rest
Gmoke writes, "Pure Home Water (PHW), the same people who make AfriClay Filters -- a locally-sourced clay pot water filter -- in Taha, Ghana are now building toilet blocks for local schools. In June 2013, PHW built a 6-stall toilet block in 30 days for a school in the village of Taha. They are planning to build the same toilet block for the neighboring village of Gbalahi and are looking for $8,600 over the next two months."
Toilets for Schools - Improving Sanitation in Ghana
(Thanks, Gmoke!) Read the rest
PeePoo bags are alternatives to the "flying toilets" (plastic bags filled with human shit and then flung into the public street) used in Nairobi shantytowns. Created by the company PooPeople, they're lined with a thin gauze layer filled with urea powder, which neutralizes the bacteria in human feces. Once filled, the bags turn the poop into fertilizer, then biodegrade.
The Peepoo is in the form of a slim elongated bag measuring 14 x 38 centimeters.
Within the bag there is a thin gauze layer measuring 26 x 24 cm. The Peepoo is filled with urea powder. Without sacrificing ergonomic function, the bag’s design is adapted in every way so that it might be manufactured at as low a price as possible and sold to groups with the weakest purchasing power in the world.
The Peepoo is easy to carry and easy to use. It doesn't need any supporting structure, but, for convenience, a small bucket can help a lot.
(via Neatorama) Read the rest