Rose George “talks shit” to raise awareness about the lack of basic sanitation worldwide.
Rose George thinks, researches, writes and talks about sanitation. 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 is to “stop putting the toilet behind a locked door,” says George. Let’s drop the pretense of “water-related diseases” and call out the cause of myriad afflictions around the world -- “poop-related diseases” that are preventable with a basic toilet. Once we do, we can start using human waste for good.
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."
Her latest book, on an equally hidden world that touches almost everything we do, is Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Brings You 90% of Everything. Read a review >>
“The humble latrine, or flush toilet, reduces disease by twice as much as just putting in clean water.”
“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.”
“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.”
“The flush toilet was voted the best medical advance of the last 200 years by the readers of the British Medical Journal — and they were choosing over the Pill, anesthesia, and surgery.”
“[The flush toilet is] a wonderful waste disposal device. But I think that it's so good — it doesn't smell, we can put it in our house, we can lock it behind a door — and I think we've locked it out of conversation too.”
“When I get sad about sanitation, I think of Japan, because Japan 70 years ago was a nation of people who used pit latrines and wiped with sticks, and now it's a nation of … in-built bidet nozzles.”