Rose George looks deeply into topics that are unseen but fundamental, whether that's sewers or latrines or massive container ships or pirate hostages or menstrual hygiene.

Why you should listen

Rose George thinks, researches, writes and talks about the hidden, the undiscussed. Among the everyone-does-it-no-one-talks-about-it issues she's explored in books and articles: sanitation (and poop in general). Diarrhea is a weapon of mass destruction, says the UK-based journalist and author, and a lack of access to toilets is at the root of our biggest public health crisis. In 2012, two out of five of the world’s population had nowhere sanitary to go.

The key to turning around this problem, says George: Let’s drop the pretense of “water-related diseases” and call out the cause of myriad afflictions around the world as what they are -- “poop-related diseases” that are preventable with a basic toilet. George explores the problem in her book The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters and in a fabulous special issue of Colors magazine called "Shit: A Survival Guide." Read a sample chapter of The Big Necessity >>

Her latest book, on an equally hidden world that touches almost everything we do, is Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, Food on Your Plate. Read a review >> 

 In the UK and elsewhere, you'll find the book titled Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry the Brings You 90% of Everything.

What others say

"'The Big Necessity' [takes] a subject that seems fixed and familiar and taboo and makes us understand it is ... dazzlingly intriguing." — Johann Hari, Slate, 10/20/08

Rose George’s TED talks

Rose George on the TED Blog

Health

Go home and talk s***: Rose George at TED2013

February 28, 2013

A trip to a public bathroom stall several years ago inspired journalist Rose George to think. “I asked myself the question: Where does this stuff go?” George remembers. “With this question, I found myself plunged into the world of sanitation, toilets and poop. And I have yet to emerge.” Many people don’t think much about toilets. As […]

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News

Indelicate Conversation: Speakers in Session 9 at TED2013

February 28, 2013

This session, delicately titled “Indelicate conversation,” took a look at some topics not meant for the dinner table with talks by speakers not afraid to ask: What’s really on your mind? The speakers who appeared in this session. Click on their name to read a recap of their talk: Rose George “talks shit” to raise awareness […]

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Quotes from Rose George

The humble latrine, or flush toilet, reduces disease by twice as much as just putting in clean water.
Rose George
TED2013 • 1.2M views Apr 2013
Informative, Persuasive
I'd grown up thinking that a [sanitary toilet] was my right, when in fact it's a privilege — 2.5 billion people worldwide have no adequate toilet.
Rose George
TED2013 • 1.2M views Apr 2013
Informative, Persuasive
You've probably been asked to care about things like HIV/AIDS or T.B. or measles, but diarrhea kills more children than all those three things put together. It's a very potent weapon of mass destruction.
Rose George
TED2013 • 1.2M views Apr 2013
Informative, Persuasive