Monday, February 21, 2011

Where our sh*t goes

I was thinking about this recently, I won't tell you where I was, but one of the disconnects in our society is that we don't really care where our sh*t goes.

And by sh*t I mean, um sh*t. Our waste matter. You just flush it away and it's gone. You mostly don't have to think about it. For some reason, there are people who get jobs as sanitary workers and engineers, and politicians who run the Water District, but I'm guessing the ratio of them to us is fairly staggering.

Our sh*t is not our problem.

And this is exactly our problem. In a society where you don't have to worry where the nasty stuff goes, you also don't worry about where the old stuff goes, or the excess stuff, or the unused stuff, or the I-don't-need-it-anymore stuff. But it all goes somewhere. It goes to the communities where those sanitation workers live. It goes to incinerators that aren't sufficiently regulated, so that the children who live near them have life-threatening asthma. It goes onto barges and gets hauled to countries with an even more cavalier attitude toward regulation and no body politic at all, places where children feed their families by pawing through your old sh*t that you threw out without giving it a thought.

You need to think about your sh*t. You need to think about the food that goes into your mouth because it affects the environment when it comes out the other end. You need to think about growth hormones in your chicken and beef. You need to think about the drugs you ingest,or discard.

And you need to think about the clothing and packaging and appliances and books and electronics that we casually consume and discard. It all has to go somewhere.

I think the next challenge needs to be a month with no trash. Your body is going to produce a lot of sh*t in your lifetime. Your lifestyle doesn't have to.


  1. Live in a house with a sewage lagoon and you will definitely think about where your sh*t goes!

  2. As I live on a farm, I deal with manure daily and as we have our tank and field system for the humane manure, I am very aware of what goes down comes out in my soil at some point.

    However your post is so very true for most of us.. its worth thinking about for sure. Great post!

  3. farmgal and barrel-racer, I think you have hit upon a very point at the key to some of the urban-rural disconnect. In the city, we tend to forget about the problem of trash and waste-- put it on the curb flush it down the toilet and gone. We don't have to deal with it. In fact, we get highly incensed when our crap IS in our face-- in the form of litter, overflowing dumpsters etc. Suburbanites are even more skittish on the subject. Since most of the population live in urban and suburban areas, we as a society need to come to terms with it.

  4. One of the things I'm really planning on keeping an eye on when I start the Real Food Challeng is how much less waste it'll produce to make more of my own food. I'm really hoping to see a difference in the amount of trash we put at the curb.

  5. I think April needs to be "no trash"

  6. I'm actually planning on doing Spring Fling in April and getting rid of some my clutter. I will however donate/reuse or freecycle everything I declutter. But I look forward to reading about your no trash efforts :)

  7. Last fall a pipe under our house came loose and our sh*t landed tight under my closet and because the septic tank was too full it started backing up under our house. Yep that really makes you realize where your sh*t goes.

    Part of the problem with our tank is that I had been pouring bleach and other anti clog products in there and killed the natural bacterias needed to break down or sh*t.

    I won't make those mistakes again.