‘The Daily Poo!’ This week, ‘A Potted History of the Toilet’ part 1.

copyright Mark Hendriksen 2020| Jon Fowler Media

As per last week’s heads up on the bottoms down. We should point out from the very start, it’s a history that relates more to the west as sitters, than the east who predominantly squat (or other regions where people still squat) – as we all did once upon a time!

Nevertheless, with the exception of 25% of the world’s population who still have no access to basic sanitation, the evolution of the toilet [sit down, or squat versions + urinals for men] has been relatively slow – and as you’ll read, has also been relatively painful. The illustration above, from one of my books on the subject about, ‘The History of the Toilet’, shows that after the creation of humanity, all of who squatted – some bright spark designed and invented the first sit down toilets… Thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia first by the Sumerians, the Indus-Harappan, and Egyptian civilisations, then Greece, and a while later add Rome to the list – and so on and so forth, as many would have read at school. For example, the phrase ‘you got the wrong end of the stick‘ derived from the sponge on the stick that Romans used to wipe their bums, dip it in a bucket, and pass it on – I guess you’re now picturing that phrase somewhat differently!

Again, as in the illustration above, the first sit down toilet designs were a row of seats with horseshoe shaped holes, they were unisex, and the ablutions were washed away to the river, with their clever drainage/sewer systems, albeit they were polluting their rivers in the process. Bearing in mind how many thousands of years ago this was, a) there’s been relatively little progress, b) why there was no particular loo taboo then, how did that change, c) as it became obvious that bad sanitation and poor sewerage systems killed people – again, why such slow progress and, d) why no one ever asked the question about such a dramatic posture change, ‘so how does it affect the health of humanity to suddenly go from squat to sit?’ Guess what, same questions as above today, yet only some more definable progress in the last 180 odd years,… err wtf?

For example, Sir John Harrington is accredited with the first mechanical flushing system in 1596. But, to highlight the glacial pace, new design, development and infrastructure barely started to make an impact again for another 4000 years, way up until the mid 1800s when we learn that as a result of London’s ‘The Great Stink’ sewers and sanitation jumped up the ‘to do’ list, and around the same time the first septic tank was invented, and then Thomas Crapper became a marketing legend, which led to all sorts of tweaks to toilet and flush designs, aided by Alexander Cummings, Mr U or S Bend one might say. It was a bums rush of activity, infrastructure and invention!

As you can see, even with this brief insight – this is a big subject. After the mid 1800s progress lowed gain in real terms. For which reason this brief history is a two parter, no. 1 [this week] and no. 2 [next] explaining how the software (so to speak) evolved, as the hardware was introduced. Other inventors and ideas, and how we’re still struggling to cope to this day, and as mentioned at the start, at the same time neglecting 25% of the population who, quite honestly, are far worse off today than many people were all that time ago, over 5000 years earlier.

Until next week… and ‘The Daily Poo!‘ ‘A Potted History of the Toilet’ part 2.’

Childrens books, concept, content, text & illustrations
copyright Mark Hendriksen 2020

‘The Daily Poo!’ Latest News + Did you know that 25% of the world still has no access to basic sanitation!?

In last week’s edition of ‘The Daily Poo!’ we mentioned the global problems that remain a major issue for the people they impact, ie the sanitation and hygiene (or lack of it) in many areas of the world, along with lack of access to clean water or any water at all. There are many statistics bandied around, which can be somewhat confusing and blur the distinction between the various issues that need addressing, so let’s try and unravel the stats and give you a clearer picture on what’s really happening out there.

Key organisations in working to resolve the above problems include; The World Toilet Organisation set up by a guy called Jack Sim on November 19 2001 [also, World Toilet Day]. This is aligned to the United Nations who work closely with Jack on their sustainable development goals along with efforts to end open defecation. The World Health Organisation [WHO], UNICEF and The Bill Gates Foundation are other major influences, and the list is growing, as this rather ‘taboo’ subject dramatically affects both people, and the environment around the globe.

  1. The World Population was approx. 7.6 billion as at end of 2018 according to data from The World Bank, which aligns with the figure given by the United Nations. You can read the country by country split on the above link.
  2. 2 billion people still have no access to basic sanitation such as toilets or latrines, that’s around 25% of the world population! Of these, 673 million still defecate in the open, for example in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water. [WHO]
  3. Inadequate sanitation means that around 827,000 deaths annually from people in low and middle-income countries as a result of inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene each year. Poor sanitation also contributes to malnutrition. [WHO]
  4. More than 80 per cent of wastewater (resulting from human activities) is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal. [UN]
  5. At the current time, more than 2 billion people are living with the risk of reduced access to freshwater resources and by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water. [UN]
  6. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, sanitation rated as “safe for people” increased by only three percent worldwide over the last five years.
  7. Globally, 26% of health care facilities did not have basic water services in 2016. [WASH]

All of this data simply touches the surface on a problem that many of us neither experience, nor read much about. It is something that needs to be urgently addressed and the likes of Jack Sim and The World Toilet Organisation getting greater attention, media coverage and support.

Finally let’s end on a brief round up of other news from the world of loos and no. 2s from ‘The Daily Poo!‘ So, here are a few links to the most recent articles:

  1. The Whale Poop that’s worth more than your car!
  2. How Sea Urchin Poop Could Fight Climate Change.
  3. Top tip for Tourists in New Zealand: Dig a hole for your poop.
  4. What’s the Difference Between Toilet Paper and Tissue?
  5. Russian artist rings in new year with huge rat sculpture… made of poop!
  6. Further to our mention of Aesop Post Poo-Drops in the last blog, here’s an article that gives them the thumbs up, and odour down…

On which note… have a great week and we’ll catch up again with all the latest news and views from the loo in ‘The Daily Poo!’

Childrens books, concept, content, text & illustrations
copyright Mark Hendriksen 2020