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Last week I wrote about the plunger.  It did not get a lot of attention.  I didn't expect it to.  

Until needed it is one of the least thought about items we have in our possession. Its use is usually for a single purpose - to unstop a toilet or sink. But as was discussed in the last post it has been used for varied and surprising alternative uses since its invention.  In large part, however, the plunger remains a single use item.

When you need one you're glad you have one. When you don't need one it is hidden away or camouflaged to be out of sight and out of mind. It is functional and utilitarian in its simplicity. It remains virtually unchanged since its creation. It is viewed as an absolute necessity in any modern household.

When needed it is used to make something go away that we don't want around.  Whatever it is we want to go away, whether it be in the toilet, a sink or a floor drain,  we use a plunger to unstop it and make it disappear.  We want whatever it is to be "out of sight and out of mind".  

The plunger is also close to the bottom of the list of items ever given as a gift. Just doesn't come to mind when you're thinking of what to give to that person who has everything. It's not often, if ever, you see a gift wrapped plunger under the Christmas tree! The gift would kind of have the subliminal message of "you're full of shit" or something to that effect. When you check the items on a couples' wedding registry it's rare to see a plunger mentioned.

When is the last time you read or saw an advertisement for a plunger? Not even on those cheesy commercials late at night when you can get a second one free if you act now do you hear about the merits of the Johnny Jolter power plunger.

The lack of thought and attention we give to the plunger is a window of insight into our lack of thought to certain things around us.  Simply put it reflects how little thought we give to certain problems we face like climate change, super consumption and overpopulation.  In a nutshell it sheds light on just how much we don't think about some of the serious shit we are facing!

And this is the real kicker. If we really thought about our own excrement more we would realize there is no need for the plunger at all. It is a tool that helps us deny we take a crap every day. It is a tool that helps us to continue to fail to realize that when we flush we are throwing away a valuable resource, mixing it with unknown and untold toxins and swishing it away into a huge energy intensive sewage treatment system to be treated as best it can before being reintroduced back into the environment as sludge.

Chronically short of water.  All water facts in the next paragraph are taken from Robin Clarke and Janet King, The Atlas of Water:  Mapping the World’s Most Critical Resource (London:  Earthscan, 2004), p. 19.
Looking at a globe of Earth you would think we have water, water, everywhere but that is not really true.  It is a fixed commodity.  Throughout all history we’ve had the same amount of water to work with.  The planet contains about 332 milllion cubic miles of it.  Most is salty.  Only 2 percent is fresh water and two-thirds of that is unavailable for human use because it is locked in snow and ice.  We are using the same water the dinosaurs used.  In 2000, twice as much water was used throughout the world as in 1960.  Water consumption is currently at about 1,700 liters (449) gallons per person per day.  Most of it is not going down sinks and toilets, but onto fields for agriculture.  By 2050, half of the planet’s projected 8.9 billion people will live in countries that are chronically short of water.7  Humans are wasting their water mostly by putting waste into it.  One cubic meter of wastewater can pollute ten cubic meters of water.  

Our current sewage treatment system is totally ass-backward.  When we look at the predominant sanitation system used in the world today in an ass-forward way we can truly see just how ass-backward it is.  Each of us pays good money to have purified water pour into our toilets.  We then do our business and flush it into the sewer system.  We also pay hard-earned money to carry our excrement away to a sewage treatment plant.  Along the way it is mixed in with all kinds of foreign substances including chemicals, solvents and medical waste.  At our sewage treatment plants varying energy intensive expensive processes are utilized to separate out the contamination from the water to return it to its pure state to be recycled.  The remaining sludge’s value, as a result of human excrement being mixed with other sources of contamination, is diminished.  It must be further sterilized, with questionable results, before it can be used as a fertilizer.  This never-ending expensive cycle of mishandled waste typifies truly ass-backward logic and indicates just how out of touch we are with our true nature.  It also points out to what lengths we will go to deny our bodily functions and ignore our relationship and dependence on nature.  It is truly unsustainable.

Ecological Sanitation (Ecosan) offers a new philosophy of dealing with what is presently regarded as waste and wastewater. Ecosan systems enable the recovery of nutrients from human feces and urine for the benefit of agriculture, thus helping to preserve soil fertility, assure food security for future generations, minimize water pollution and recover bio-energy. They ensure that water is used economically and is recycled in a safe way for purposes such as irrigation or groundwater recharge.

Ecological Sanitation
The main objectives of ecological sanitation are:

    * To reduce the health risks related to sanitation, contaminated water and waste.

    * To prevent the pollution of surface and ground water.

    * To prevent the degradation of soil fertility.

    * To optimize the management of nutrients and water resources.

People who work in sanitation sometimes have visions.  Eco-san people see a future where instead of controlling pollution after it happens, it is prevented in the first place by some kind of source separation.  Water separated from excreta; urine separated from feces.  The discarded products of the human body given treatment appropriate to one name (shit, meaning to separate), not another (waste, from the Latin vastus meaning unoccupied or uncultivated).  A cleaner new world where people put out their trash cans full of fecal compost to be collected on a Monday, like they do with garbage.

The Church of the Holy Shitters hopes and prays for the expeditious arrival of this vision!  The technology presently exists to implement this transition. It is the lack of attention, drive and motivation that are the problems.  This Church is dedicated to transforming our ass-backward thought processes with regard to sanitation and ushering in a new ass-forward eco-san way of dealing with our own shit.

As Poop John the First of the Church of the Holy Shitters this change of thinking is what the plunger represents.   Let it come out of hiding and be a visible and constant reminder of our animal connections. When we look at it let it remind us that we are not important to the Earth but that the Earth is important to us. Let it remind us to treat our waste with respect and reverence and to use it to nourish the Earth we live on instead of it being treated as a waste product. Let it be used to hold up the globe of our home the Earth. Let it represent the increased stature we give to Shit and the revered position it holds in the Shitty Way of Life we have chosen to follow.  Let it remind us to think about all those things we try to ignore or take for granted like clean air and water.  Let it remind us to give a shit about our environment.  

The Church of the Holy Shitters will post articles on our holy S.H.I.T. day ( So Happy It's Thursday)  

Last week April 11, 2013: The Plunger - Part 1:  History and Uses  
Next week:  April 25, 2013:  Man's Ego Problem

Hoping to add some humor, provoke thought, spark debate,  deepen understanding, and shed some light on the fecal side.  

Remember:  "If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit." ( Shitbit by Poop John the First of the Church of the Holy Shitters)
Church of the Holy Shitters
A secular environmental religion, scientifically based, with a focus on the psychology of it all. Our ego is the culprit when it comes to dealing with climate change. We cannot save the planet. We can only save ourselves. Our current egotistical self-perception makes that prospect a dubious one at best. Meekness, humility and a realization that our shit does stink, guides us on our path to true sustainable living and climate equilibrium.

Cross posted at

Originally posted to Holy $h*tters on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 09:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 09:40:38 AM PDT

  •  Interesting and informative indeed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, John Crapper, citisven

    I have, on several occasions, given a plunger as a house warming gift.  

  •  Anyone who thinks a plunger is low on the list (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, John Crapper, jwinIL14

    of things to give as a gift has clearly never met my father.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 10:04:28 AM PDT

    •  LOL: Would love (maybe) to hear the background (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      story on this.  My mother's favorite saying was "It's all a bunch of crap".  She passed away recently and at her funeral the pastor made an appoint (after meeting with the family the day before and hearing all the stories) to make this a central theme  .  I've never been to a service before where there was so much laughing.  My mom was smiling from above I'm sure.  

      If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

      by John Crapper on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 10:11:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  :0 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

      by Floyd Blue on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 11:24:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  well said, John (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper, Glen The Plumber

    our "out of sight, out of mind" mentality and sheer ignorance of whole life cycles has gotten us into so much trouble. The plunger is a great symbol for all the taboos we've developed.

    On another similar note relating to the chemical fertilizer plant explosion, I just posted this on my facebook page:

    My heart goes out to all the people hurt in the explosion at the Texas chemical fertilizer plant. I'm wondering though once the toxic dust settles if anyone is going to ask why we're using such lethal and dangerous compounds (54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia) that are harmful to people and planet to grow our food while 97% of American food scraps — the most nutritious organic fertilizer on earth — is thrown into landfill (releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas). Most likely the discussion in the weeks to come will be about how to better secure and fortify chemical fertilizer plants, but imagine if instead we talked about Zero Waste, urban composting programs, and building better composting facilities.

    Ecology is the new Economy

    by citisven on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 10:10:25 AM PDT

  •  I lived in rural China where it was sold (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper

    Yup, people would pay to come empty the big holding tanks.

    Crappers were a concrete slit trench which one would straddle, squat, and do one's business. The bottom of the trench was at just the correct angle so that things would eventually slide down into the holding  tank. Often there was zero privacy other than a girls side and a boys side.

    Farmers would bid on taking the stuff away, then hire a bunch of people to ladle it up into honey buckets, which were supported by a pole and carried over the shoulder as in the pictures, carried down out of town to the fields and ladled onto the fields.

    It took about a month to get used to using the toilet. The smell was horrendous. All vegetables are cooked.

    If you could figure a way to get rid of poop, without people having to smell it or deal with it in any way, you would be a millionaire.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 10:19:35 AM PDT

    •  Most ecological sanitation is taking place in the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock

      developing world.  China has been doing this for centuries.  Composting toilets can and do take the smell away effectively and turn our feces into wonderful soil that can be applied directly to our gardens in about a year.  I'll be posting much more on this in the coming months.  Stay tuned and thanks for sharing your experiences in China.  I've visited there and lived in Asia for 15 years mostly in Thailand.  Closest I got to living in China was Taiwan.  They don't practice ecosan as far as I could determine.  

      If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

      by John Crapper on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 10:30:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You are so right. Changing our perspective is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber, Sylv

    the whole thrust behind the Church of the Holy Shitters.  This is from a future post of mine coming soon.


    Although both our feces and urine are valuable resources and in the perfect world should be treated that way, in the real world accomplishing this is a daunting task both in terms of infrastructure and social acceptance. Initially, rather than trying to change our culture to embrace and implement all proven ecological sanitation procedures from the outset it might be more feasible to tackle its implementation in a more modest step-by-step phased-in fashion. Under this approach the practice of urine reuse would be promoted and implemented first.

    Urine reuse is gaining attention at the global level as scientists, agronomists, backyard gardeners, and development professionals look to this universally available substance for solutions to a variety of water and sanitation problems. Urine collection reduces toilet water use by as much as 80% by decreasing flushes.  Plant nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, can be captured from urine and used as agricultural fertilizer, reducing demand for chemical fertilizers.

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 10:24:00 AM PDT

  •  Our waste disposal systems are ass backwards! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper

    I like that!

    Seriously, this was interesting and informative.

    Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 11:25:49 AM PDT

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