The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters

The Big Necessity The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters An utterly original exploration of the world of human waste that will surprise outrage and entertain Produced behind closed doors disposed of discreetly and hidden by euphemism bodily waste is som

  • Title: The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters
  • Author: Rose George
  • ISBN: 9780805082715
  • Page: 497
  • Format: Hardcover
  • An utterly original exploration of the world of human waste that will surprise, outrage and entertain Produced behind closed doors, disposed of discreetly, and hidden by euphemism, bodily waste is something common to all and as natural as breathing, yet we prefer not to talk about it But we should even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary coAn utterly original exploration of the world of human waste that will surprise, outrage and entertainProduced behind closed doors, disposed of discreetly, and hidden by euphemism, bodily waste is something common to all and as natural as breathing, yet we prefer not to talk about it But we should even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary conditions For it s not only in developing countries that human waste is a major public health threat population growth is taxing even the most advanced sewage systems, and the disease spread by waste kills people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death Even in America, 1.95 million people have no access to an indoor toilet Yet the subject remains unmentionable.The Big Necessity takes aim at the taboo, revealing everything that matters about how people do and don t deal with their own waste Moving from the deep underground sewers of Paris, London, and New York an infrastructure disaster waiting to happen to an Indian slum where ten toilets are shared by 60,000 people, Rose George stops along the way to explore the potential saviors China s five million biogas digesters, which produce energy from waste the heroes of third world sanitation movements the inventor of the humble Car Loo and the U.S Army s personal lasers used by soldiers to zap their feces in the field.With razor sharp wit and crusading urgency, mixing levity with gravity, Rose George has turned the subject we like to avoid into a cause with the most serious of consequences.
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      Posted by:Rose George
      Published :2019-03-07T06:03:07+00:00

    201 Comment

    • Will Byrnes says:

      Or as we call it, “The Poo Book.” If you are expecting a Mary Roach approach, forget it. While there are more than a couple of yucks in George’s book, they provide spice and not substance. This is a sober examination of a crucial public health matter. George offers plenty of supportive stats, without letting them get in the way of telling her story. How do societies in diverse cultures cope with human waste? George looks at methodologies and social standards in the USA, Japan, India, China [...]

    • Richard Derus says:

      Rating: 4.75* of fiveThis review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.It really and truly IS The Porcelain God. Worship it, because it's the reason you're not dead yet.

    • John says:

      If you glance over my previously listed books, you'll have noted that I'm on a "end of civilization as we know it" reading jag, and this book fits right into the series. In fact, in many ways it's the best of the lot. Excreting is something we all do and almost none of us like to think about it, let alone talk about it, let alone read a whole book on the subject. But, because of this, our ignorance is immense. Who would have guessed, for example, that the world divides between those who clean th [...]

    • David says:

      To be uninterested in the public toilet is to be uninterested in life. OK, folks. 2009 is over, and the results are in. There were plenty of honorable mentions in the nonfiction category for the year - Henry Alford's "How to Live", Alain de Boton's "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work", and the Brafman brothers' excellent "Sway". While these three books were particularly engaging and well-executed, they are nonetheless eclipsed by the sheer unadulterated genius of Rose George's inspired exploratio [...]

    • Maureen says:

      Yes, I am a science geek. This is terrific read. When I was a kid, I would read "historical" books, like Little House on the Prairie, and I would be thinking, hmm, where did they go to the bathroom? What did they use for toilet paper? Dad said they used leaves and I said no way! How could that work?I guess I was destined to become interested in microbiology and tolerant and compassionate enough to work with people's poo samples and try to figure out what was making them ill.I will never drive by [...]

    • skein says:

      My cousin A. (who is a kind and generous person, a sterling example of the apple falling far, far away from the family tree) once complimented me on my willingness to address problems. Well, I said, what gets done when we ignore things? This book makes me feel like I've spent my life willfully blind. HOW IS IT THAT I'VE NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT POO?Sad-faced celebrities talk about helping people obtain access to water and helping girls get menstrual supplies so they can go to school -- what they mean [...]

    • Julie Christine says:

      With passion, humor and integrity, Rose George makes a rock-solid case for sanitation as the world's most critical development issue. Without easy access to safe and effective sanitation, communities cannot provide clean drinking water or food free from contamination or lower the risk of life-threatening diseases. Without access to sanitation, women are chained to the Sisyphian drudgery of seeking out and carrying water, girls are too shamed to attend school once they begin menstruating, village [...]

    • Jamie Collins says:

      A very interesting book."2.6 billion people don't have sanitation. I don't mean that they have no toilet in their house and must use a public one with queues and fees. Or that they have an outhouse, or a rickety shack that empties into a filthy drain or pigsty. All that counts as sanitation, though not a safe variety. The people who have those are the fortunate ones. Four in ten people have no access to any latrine, toilet, bucket or box. Nothing. Instead, they defecate by train tracks and in fo [...]

    • Emily says:

      I just thought of a weird fact about myself. When I was little, instead of using the word ‘poop’ we called it ‘rocks’, as in “Mommy, I need to make rocks.” When I grew up I studied what in college? Geology. I think this book should have been called, “The History of Toilets and Sewers Around the World” or “Poop: How To Get Rid of a Whole Lot of It’. It really wasn’t so much about human waste itself, but how it makes people sick and what the world does with it. FYI: India cre [...]

    • Alisa says:

      One of the most unusual topics for a book and that I would never have expected to pique my interest. In fact, I found the topic fascinating and it covered a topic that concerns us all. It is written with humor and intelligence, thoroughly researched, and well-written. The author gives us a lot of great detail and illustrates her findings in a provocative and thoughtful way. It is not a straight chronology like you might expect from other evolutionary social histories. Her examples are from syste [...]

    • John says:

      Did you know that out of 6 billion humans, 2.6 billion have no bathroom, toilet, latrine or other place to tidily and privately relieve themselves? They use a vacant lot, walk a way down a railroad track, or "go" in a plastic bag that they then toss on a roof or over a fence."The Big Necessity" is full of such interesting facts.But more than that, the book is an important overview of the current state of sanitation in the world, be it the robotic toilets of Japan or the tossed plastic bags of Mu [...]

    • Noah says:

      This book's biggest shortcoming is the lack of any real narrative or central thesis beyond the fact that we don't pay as much attention to human sanitation as we should. George jumps around between disconnected topics like pit latrines in Tanzanian slums and the history of luxury toilet technology without even trying to justify it. And, as you might expect, the book gets a little slow as it goes on - one can only take so much sewer talk. Still, this is the sort of book that makes you look differ [...]

    • Betty says:

      After a recent trip to India, where the lack of available sanitation is a huge problem, this book was of interest. I was intrigued to read that getting people who are "open defecators" to accept the concept of using latrines is actually very challenging. The strategies that are being successful are an interesting study in psychology.

    • Elizabeth says:

      As someone who's visited both Newtown Creek and the Greenpoint Water Treatment Plant for fun, there was not a ton of new shit here. It did answer some crap I'd been wondering about, like why houses in London have separated drainage pipes, and why I shouldn't eat raw fruits or vegetables in China. But if you ask me, there's a bit of waste material that could have been flushed down the toilet instead.

    • Frank says:

      One of those books that makes me realize yet again what incredible privilege I live in and take for granted. In this case, it's sanitation—the ability to use a clean toilet every day and flush my waste away without a second thought. This is a luxury that, as Rose George points out, 2.6 billion people do not enjoy. They enjoy nothing remotely like it:I don't mean that they have no toilet in their house and must use a public one with queues and fees. Or that they have an outhouse, or a rickety s [...]

    • Megz says:

      This review is originally posted on my blog, at barefootmeds.wordpress/201. Links and images from the original post are omitted in this review.One of the first things I noticed when I started traveling was international differences in public restrooms. In New York City I was met with the conundrum of a city that has everything except restrooms. In China I saw squat toilets for the first time – and refused to use them. Working in a hospital with filthy restrooms has given me a strong bladder. T [...]

    • Brooks says:

      The book starts as a travelogue on different sewer systems and then moves toward more of a Polzin type book on the importances of sanitation systems. As an engineering who watches too much Modern Marvels, but of this was not interesting. It never went too detailed, which is more my interest. So, what are the different options for human waste sanitation? Open defecation and the helicopter toilet (shit in a bag and throw into the street). This is a big problem. A lot of poor people actually prefer [...]

    • Munthir Mahir says:

      Rose George has a penchant for choosing absurdly large topics. In the process she misses a great deal of aspects pertaining to the subject, but what she does touch on she serves beautifully. The big necessity is about the behind the doors human waste. The one which humans never fail to deliver incessantly day in and day out. But where does it go? Suffice to say neither developed countries nor underdeveloped countries are sure where and into what it goes or should go. As George deftly explains hu [...]

    • Patricia Weenolsen says:

      You’ve never taken a sewer tour of London or New York City, have you? Or stopped to chat with anyone in the Hindu caste of the pristine “broken people” as they empty India’s latrines and clean up feces — despite Mahatma Gandhi’s attempts to get everyone to haul their own? Or contemplated a nice dinner salad as you watched Chinese excrement being sprayed on fields of cabbages? Or marched in a protest advocating women’s urinals — without doors, of course — privacy being all in y [...]

    • Jennifer Mangler says:

      When I tell people that I read this book and loved it they cringe or think I'm strange. And that is why EVERYONE needs to read this book. We don't like to talk about poop and we don't like to think about poop. We are, in other words, a fecalphobic culture, and that has profound implications for millions of people around the world. Good sanitation is absolutely vital and its impact is often overlooked. Sanitation doesn't get brought up in most history books but it has played an absolutely vital r [...]

    • Xing Chen says:

      Rivetingly researched. Takes us from slums of Mumbai to toilet-manufacturing plants in Japan, and reveals that despite apparently huge cultural and economic differences, people readily adapt in order to do what our body dictates using the facilities available- ejection of waste is a fundamental necessity, regardless of how many smoke screens, walls, and doors we errect (though I'm awed over by the concept of played-back flushing sounds). Having visited the Chinese countryside and used public toi [...]

    • Pauline says:

      This was a pretty interesting read that brings to attention something that everyone who lives in a 1st world country doesn't really think about. I think most of us take sanitation and waste removal for granted. When was the last time that you ever thought about where your poop goes after flushing? I thought it was particularly fascinating when this book addressed the sanitation situations in other countries such as India. I had no idea about the difficulties that they face as a nation about heal [...]

    • Susan Ritz says:

      Who knew that a book about toilets and sewage could actually be fun and fascinating? Rose George is a master of the creative nonfiction genre, using her wit and keen powers of observation to delve into a subject no one really wants to talk about. I had no idea that over 2 billion people have no sanitation, not even a hole in the ground to pee in. I hadn't really thought about the direct connection between dirty drinking water and lack of sewage removal, but George lets us know the human toll thi [...]

    • B. Rule says:

      This is a book on a very interesting and important subject, and it's clear that the author did a lot of traveling for research to write it. It's almost amusing to see where she'll pop up next in search of her subject. I found the information on sanitation in slums and in much of the developing world to be fascinating, terrible, and tragic. Leavened throughout were somewhat incongruously light chapters on those zany Japanese, always good for a laugh (or so the author seems to think), and a few ot [...]

    • Sue says:

      MESMERIZING. Fun, dynamic read; I totally learned a bunch of stuff here. That “Japan makes the most advanced, remarkable toilets in the world.” (p. 41). The incredible toilet system known as Washlet by the TOTO company.HILARIOUS: Top-of-the-line Neorest “takes two days to learn its owner’s habits, and adjusts its heating and water use accordingly, checks the sugar in your urine, puts the lid down . . . It can probably sense that I’m writing about it.” (p. 47).How do you create (find [...]

    • Kate Schindler says:

      I. Loved. This. Book. I know it doesn't sound super awesome to most people, but I've been interested in sanitation infrastructure since I was doing research on diarrheal diseases at PSI the summer after graduation. More children die each year from diarrhea than from AIDS, from malaria, or from tuberculosis. When people are sick all the time, they're a lot less productive and they have to spend a lot of money on medicine. But my favorite thing about this book was that it emphasized that the proje [...]

    • Beverly says:

      Well, this was more interesting and less icky than you might think! The writing is great and I was interested for 3/4 of the book, then it launched into too much detail of programs in India and I started skimming. It's amazing how very important sanitation is to civilization. I had no idea how a huge percentage of the world lives and I am thankful to live in the United States and have enough money to have a home with plumbing! I didn't find that many of my friends wanted to hear about this book [...]

    • Violet says:

      It's a book about poo. And it's one of the most educational books I've read in a long time. Who knew that waste management was so fascinating?The book discusses everything from how toilets are developed, marketed and improved upon, to why "clean water" campaigns in 3rd world countries are useless if an equal campaign for sanitation isn't implemented.A book full of mindboggling facts and totally safe for even the most squeamish reader - but exceptionally important information for all.

    • Pat Rigley says:

      "Bodily waste is common to all and as natural as breathing. We prefer not to talk about it, but we should — even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary conditions. Disease spread by bodily waste kills more people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death." (Copy from back cover).Interesting read and well worth a look. I guarantee you'll discover something you never knew before. And other than entertainment, isn't that the purpose of cracking a book open [...]

    • Adam Minter says:

      An absolutely brilliant journey into a world of waste that most people never think about - and, let's face it, never want to think about. You'll come away with a deeper appreciation for the world in which we live, how it became that way, and what really needs to be done to make it better. But more than that, you'll dive, er, deep into a world of sanitation that defines what it means to be a modern human. Highest recommendation.

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