Tag Archives: United States of America

The luxury of a toilet – Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute

gleickby Dr. Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute

I’m thrilled by the thoughtful, informed, and high-quality feedback to my first post (much of which will serve as fodder for future posts), and the apparent interest in pursuing a discussion about water problems driven by numbers and facts.

I started with a number that reflects the serious failure of society (whether local communities, national governments, or international organizations) to successfully meet basic needs for safe drinking water for all. My second “water number” is the common companion to the first: the number of people who lack access to improved sanitation services.

Water Number: There are around 2.5 billion (yes, billion) people worldwide without access to improved sanitation, which simply means they do not have a safe and clean place to go to the bathroom.

Like the drinking water number in my first post, this number comes from the United Nations World Health Organization, and is also a rough estimate. It is not well-measured precisely because of the difficulty in doing so, including variations in definitions of “improved sanitation,” and the fact that many countries fail to accurately report because, frankly, it makes them look bad. As it should.

Providing this improved sanitation, however, does not require providing modern flush toilets, which can be costly and require large amounts of water and related infrastructure, like wastewater treatment plants and sewerage systems. Indeed, there are many “technologies” for providing safe sanitation that require no water at all, from low-tech (but well designed) latrines to sophisticated, Swedish composting toilets that even an American could grow to love. I’m even tempted to argue that these alternatives are, in many ways, better than modern flush toilets. After all, the flush toilet we all use and love is really just an efficient way to contaminate an immense quantity of water, forcing us to then collect it and clean it up (which costs quite a bit of energy and money in the process).

While this certainly is something to think about, we Americans (along with Europeans, Japanese, and many others) don’t have to give up our toilets in order to solve the vast unmet need for sanitation in the poorest countries. There are many alternatives out there, and groups working to promote them. People like Jack Sim and the World Toilet Organization, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, a variety of resources around something called Ecosan (like http://www.ecosanres.org, and http://www.ecosan.org), and dozens more.

Providing adequate sanitation does more than just offer a safe place to go to the bathroom. It offers dignity. It provides myriad health benefits, including a decrease in the prevalence of water-related diseases. It helps girls in developing countries stay in school past puberty, which has many other community benefits. And it reduces the contamination of local environments.

While most discussions around access to adequate sanitation focus on developing nations (which is no surprise as it is an extensive problem for these areas), it is interesting to note that there are people in our own country who also lack access to adequate sanitation. Permit me a second fact:

Water Number: “The U.S. 2000 Census reveals that more than 1.7 million people in the United States, 670,986 households, still lack the basic plumbing facilities that most of us have come to take for granted.” -Rural Community Assistance Partnership

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Garbage Trucks Teach Children to Save the Environment

garbageGarbage Trucks Teach Children to Save the Environment in New Earth Day Book, ‘Colonel Trash Truck’

Redondo Beach, CA (PRWEB) April 13, 2009 — Parents have a new way to teach children how to save the environment with the story of one of the world’s most eco-friendly garbage trucks in author Kathleen Crawley’s new children’s book “Colonel Trash Truck…Keeping the Planet Clean and Green.”

Colonel Trash Truck is a likable, fun-filled character who is extremely focused on his mission to win the garbage war. Crawley wrote the book, illustrated by Manuel Conde, for kids ages 3 to 6, with the goal to teach them early on in life to recycle and pick up trash, just in time for Earth Day 2009.

Being green is one of the most important issues today, but the number of those who actually recycle is estimated to be as low as 20 percent and as high as 50 percent. Why isn’t everyone recycling? Could it be that the older people get the less likely they are to start a new, good habit? If so, how do parents get kids to recycle and pick up trash early so that they will continue through adulthood?

Enter Colonel Trash Truck. Crawley noticed there are few things that really catch kids’ attention and believes imaginary, humorous characters are the best way to grab their interest and affect their behavior. She also noticed just how much kids love trucks, especially trucks that visit the house every week — garbage trucks.

“There’s no better way to teach kids to respect and save the environment than to introduce them to Colonel Trash Truck,” Crawley says. “‘Colonel Trash Truck’ appeals to children with its fun rhymes, vibrant illustrations and superhero-like persona. Colonel Trash Truck believes cleaning up trash and recycling is something we all must do and he wants nothing more than to have kids join him in his quest to ‘Keep the Planet Clean and Green’.”

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USA – Restroom Guardian

For further information on the Restroom Guardian, contact: Keith Worrel, Restroom Guardian, 11615 S. Walnut St. Olathe, KS 66061, USA. Email: kworrel@comcast.net
Phone: (913)780-9663restroomguardian

Dear Director,

I am contacting you and your organization about reviewing my recent press release and possibly writing an article and promoting my new revolutionary restroom hygiene product called Restroom Guardian. This new ‘eco-friendly’ restroom cross-contamination prevention product is the first on the market to take a proactive approach to preventing serious body and area restroom cross-contamination. Restroom Guardian is a new Kansas City grass roots company. Attached, please find a press release document and a picture of the dosage packets that further overviews my new unique product.

It seems that homeowners, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and many other organizations could gain a very positive client image if they were to offer a restroom hygiene product that helps protect their clients from serious personal cross-contamination when using all of their restrooms. I feel once Restroom Guardian is initially offered to consumers through the healthcare, food service and hospitality business sectors; this new revolutionary personal hygiene product will then be desired and expected by consumers in all business sectors, including residential. Once consumers have used Restroom Guardian to protect themselves against serious restroom cross-contamination, consumers will then begin to ask for and expect Restroom Guardian in all restrooms across America.

I truly feel that this new restroom hygiene product will revolutionize the prevention of serious body and area restroom cross-contamination.

USA – Handwashing: women lead men in bacteria

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wash your hands, folks, especially you ladies. A new study found that women have a greater variety of bacteria on their hands than men do. And everybody has more types of bacteria than the researchers expected to find.

“One thing that really is astonishing is the variability between individuals, and also between hands on the same individual,” said University of Colorado biochemistry assistant professor Rob Knight, a co-author of the paper.

“The sheer number of bacteria species detected on the hands of the study participants was a big surprise, and so was the greater diversity of bacteria we found on the hands of women,” added lead researcher Noah Fierer, an assistant professor in Colorado’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology.

The researchers aren’t sure why women harbored a greater variety of bacteria than men, but Fierer suggested it may have to so with the acidity of the skin. Knight said men generally have more acidic skin than women.

Other possibilities are differences in sweat and oil gland production between men and women, the frequency of moisturizer or cosmetics applications, skin thickness or hormone production, he said.

Women also may have more bacteria living under the surface of the skin where they are not accessible to washing, Knight added.

Asked if guys should worry about holding hands with girls, Knight said: “I guess it depends on which girl.”

He stressed that “the vast majority of the bacteria we have on our body are either harmless or beneficial … the pathogens are a small minority.”

Read More – Associated Press

USA – Texas: Thousands Live in Filth as Millions of Dollars to Improve Border Towns Go Unspent

SANTA ROSA, Texas — Along the Rio Grande, more than 400,000 mostly poor people live in ramshackle neighborhoods where sewage runs in open ditches. Although the U.S. Congress has set aside $300 million to improve sanitation, more than a quarter of that has gone unspent, a federal audit shows.

The need for better hygiene was obvious during a recent afternoon rainstorm, when brothers Angel and Salvador Badillo sat under a tin roof with a couple of friends, sipping beers as the open drainage ditch in front of their clapboard house filled like a moat.

Soon, neighbors’ septic tanks could begin to overflow, creating a smelly and potentially disease-ridden mess.

More – FOXNews

USA – Why public toilets should pay you

What? You’ve been giving away your urine for free?

All these years, you’ve been sitting there like an idiot—or standing, or squatting, or whatever it is you do—pissing away a perfectly good liquid asset. Turns out, you could have sold it.

Many of us haven’t just been giving our waste away; we’ve been paying to unload it. Hundreds of cities have automated public toilets, known as APTs. In New York or Los Angeles, you drop in a quarter, and the door opens. But your quarter hardly pays the bills. New York’s new APTs reportedly cost more than $100,000 apiece; Los Angeles’ cost $300,000; Seattle installed five at a cost of $6.6 million. At 25 cents a flush, 20 to 130 times a day, a toilet brings in only $2,000 to $11,000 per year.

More – Slate

USA – E. coli Outbreak Associated with Lettuce Prompts Call for Better Sanitation

MINNEAPOLIS–BUSINESS WIRE–According to Pritzker Ruohonen & Associates, P.A., ten cases of E. coli O157:H7 in the state of Washington have been associated with the consumption of lettuce. Based on interviews of those sickened, health officials believe the source of the outbreak is bagged, commercial romaine lettuce.

Six of the people sickened were Pierce County residents. Five of them had laboratory-confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7. The sixth person had symptoms identical with those of the other five, but a lab test was not done to confirm E. coli O157:H7. The cases may be associated with a restaurant and an educational institution. Because the outbreak is deemed over, health officials are not releasing the names of either, but Internet accounts of the outbreak indicate that some of those sickened may have eaten salads at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.

“This is yet another example of contaminated lettuce causing illness, stated Pritzker. At the bottom of every E. coli outbreak is bad sanitation. It is up to the lettuce industry to clean up its act and use good sanitation practices on every farm, every day.

Read More – Business Wire