……makes a great deal of sense.
We don’t talk about it often enough.
I was doing some photography work for an environmental client in remote area of Scotland at the end of a long arduous single-track road. It was a glorious fjord-like inlet from the sea, but more than a dozen miles from the actual ocean. It could have been a scene from Lord of The Rings, mountains looming all around, still traces of snow in the deeper gullies high up. And no sign of any human presence, other than a single VW campervan parked a short distance away whose inhabitants, a young couple and a small child, had just risen and were preparing for a walk with their large frisky dog.
Well I thought there were no signs of human presence until I walked to the lochside where lay a huge amount of disgusting detritus left by some vandalcampers. Discarded beer cans, empty food tins, plastic bags, whisky bottles both whole and broken, and all manner of bits of old clothing and scrap. And all this right on the water’s edge in an otherwise idyllic spot.
I walked through it, astonished that people would make the effort to come this far to such an amazing spot, carry all this stuff, then simply discard it. The mess was everywhere. Then I spotted something odd, so went closer to investigate…..it looked like some huge mound of discarded peanut butter sandwiches…….white bread……covered in spread….then the godawful smell hit me. Caught short with no toilet paper, and confident that no-one was around to watch or complain, one of the inebriated campers, whose stomach had obviously rebelled against their poor hygiene, had crapped a monstrous pile on the shore and used a white loaf as toilet paper, discarding it right beside their camp.
I backed off as the flies rose in a cloud and started to home in on me. No thanks……
I quickly walked on away from the bread, swatting the flies, and following the trail of rubbish towards the water. Then out of the corner of my eye spotted campervan couple and child, with their dog….off the leash and ‘exploring’ the obviously whiffy aromas. I could see where the dog’s nose was leading it……I yelled as loudly as I could and waved furiously at the couple to grab their exuberant hound and running towards it waving my arms in the vain hope of intercepting it…..but too late. Confronted with what appeared to be a large pile of sandwiches the dog demolished the lot, greedily grabbing and swallowing every scrap then licking its lips in delight and rolling on the ground………..
The couple were obviously perplexed by my behaviour so I had to tell them what had just happened for safety’s sake. It would be fair to say I ruined their morning.
You might laugh at this. Or you might not. It’s a serious issue when it happens in our so-called ‘developed’ country, but it’s a global problem, and a matter of life or death for many people. And two young girls in India died recently doing what we take for granted: going to the toilet. In many developing countries access to toilet facilities is impossible, it’s not just an ‘inconvenience’ but actually places young women at risk of violence, and whole populations at risk of infections.
Writing in the Guardian Development blog on 1st June, Barbara Frost, Winnie Byanyima, Corinne Woods and Nick Alipui, report “Two girls died looking for a toilet. This should make us angry, not embarrassed”.
A toilet, bathroom, powder room – whatever you want to call it – at home, at school, at work, in the shopping mall, is something many of us take for granted and cannot talk about without feeling embarrassed. But we must: because the lack of toilets is costing women their lives.
Today, 2.5 billion people live without access to a toilet, forcing women to walk to dark and dangerous places to find the privacy they need – those same dark and dangerous places where men wait to attack them.
But many people do think about this, and are trying to effect change. Here’s just one:
And you could be another.
Truth is, some people are literally dying for a crap…..something to consider the next time you’re imitating ‘The Thinker’……?