Friday, January 14, 2011

First Results from the TP or Not TP Survey

I emailed a few people about their experiences in times/places where TP was unavailable either momentarily or just not a "thing" in that part of the world. A good friend emailed back this response (edited and names changed to protect privacy at his/her request).

B. lived in the Republic of Cabo Verde, archipelago off the west coast of Africa, for 3-1/2 years. While there, B. got several intestinal diseases there, including several rounds of
giardia and amoebic dysentery. The amoebas moved in while B. was still with a host family, and one time, B. went to use their modern bathroom in a rush and found to a spasming stomach's dismay there was no TP and B. was alone in the house. B. went anyway, took off the underwear and wiped with them then rinsed the underwear in the sink... probably without soap-- yikes. At least B. had a fresh pair of underwear to put on.

B. states: Poverty is not romantic; it sucks. There's so much we take for granted, including and especially soap and TP.

Another time, B. was without TP and without a seat on the public toilet. B. proceeded to have a terrible bout with diarrhea while half-standing. Yuck. And still had to try to clean up without TP...What B. eventually did at home is what the middle-class locals did: B. had an indoor toilet. B. didn't use paper for Number 1, and did use it for Number 2. Then B. placed the dirty TP in a brown paper sack in the bathroom instead of flushing it.

The poorer locals used rocks for Number 2 and nothing for Number 1. They used the great outdoors for their bathroom. (Jill's Aside: I wonder if they had callouses from the rocks...what are the criteria for choosing a good wiping-rock?...I'm assuming not pointy and as smooth as possible but with enough texture to pick up the offending matter...The rain can wash a rock off better than a scrunched up leaf so one could well be re-using poo-rocks from others. The mind boggles.)

Now B.'s partner X. and B. use a variation of these methods because they have a septic tank. They use paper for both 1 & 2, flushing the dirty paper and keeping the wet paper in a bathroom basket for burning later.

X. adds: Toilet paper is a luxury that will be hung onto for as long as possible.
X. suggests newsprint or rags if one is not using TP in this culture. They are also trying to collect old diapers for various uses around the house.

B. also submitted the lyrics to the following song (Perhaps we can play it on the radio show for Earth Day!)

No Such Thing as Garbage

Here we sit in primordial stew
Doing what bacteria like to do
Although there are billions and billions of us
You will notice we don’t make a muss, ‘cause

There’s no such thing as garbage
It hasn’t been invented yet
There’s no such thing as trash you stash
and then try to forget
There’s no such thing as garbage
We make what we need and no more
One critter’s waste is another one’s
entrée du jour*

We are mammals and insects
and amphibians
Birds and reptiles and fungi, man
We’ve no need for landfills
or stinky trash cans
‘Cause what one of us can’t use
another one can

There’s no such thing as garbage
We’ve been recycling all of our lives
One species’ junk is another one’s lunch and then becomes fertilizer
There’s no such thing as garbage
We make what we need and no more
One critter’s waste is another one’s entrée du jour

Oh remember when humans
were terribly plagued
By the syndrome called
For a few hundred years there
they just didn’t think
Thank goodness that garbage
has now gone extinct

There’s no such thing as garbage
We learned it just in time
Back when the planet
could hardly stand it
we started to learn this rhyme
There’s no such thing as garbage
We make what we need and no more
One critter’s waste is another one’s entrée du jour

* This line, the best in the song, was written
by Adam Levy

© 2007 Amy Martin

Vocals – Adam Levy, Allison Miller, Amy Martin, Bryony Schwan, Janine Benyus, Julie

Wolf, Jon Miller, and Todd Sickafoose
Drums – Allison Miller
Bass – Todd Sickafoose
Keys – Julie Wolf Guitar – Adam Levy

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