Originally long wooden benches would have run down either side of the toilet block, with holes cut out to form seats. Rainwater collected in large tanks outside would have been used to flush out the sewer below and would also have flowed through the channel visible on the floor, to be used for washing. In other parts of the Empire sponges for wiping would have sat in the two basins, filled with vinegar or salt water, but in Roman Britain they may have used more readily available local materials such as moss.
Nine Wells. The springs here feed Hobson’s Conduit, a watercourse constructed by Thomas Hobson between 1610 and 1614 to improve sanitation in Cambridge. The water was carried in a new artificial river into the south of the city and then divided between a number of channels along the sides of major streets, as well as through some colleges and University buildings. Flow is still maintained through the Pem and Pot branches along either side of Trumpington Street during the spring and summer months. I always point it out to visitors in Cambridge, because I think it’s a marvellous example of 17th-century civil engineering (in fact based on 16th-century plans), but I’m usually disappointed by how disinterested they are. Oh well.
(Cross-posted from the Les Mis kinkmeme chatter post, where an anon wanted to know more about the mundane details of how people managed shit (literally and figuratively) without indoor plumbing in 19th-century France. Corrections are welcome if anyone has more detailed information.)
Water: can be hauled by hand by someone in the household if you’re poor or don’t need that much of it or are out in the country, but in places with any sort of population density, you can pay a water-carrier to supply you. Basically a guy driving around a cart with a giant tank of water on it, to avoid the hassle of everybody hauling it bucketful by bucketful from a public fountain/well/pond half a mile away. In Paris in the 1830s it was one sou per bucket (thanks for all your nitpicky details, Eugène Sue!). And here’s what Hugo has to say about Montfermeil:
“The large houses, the aristocracy, of which the Thenardier tavern formed a part, paid half a farthing a bucketful to a man who made a business of it, and who earned about eight sous a day in his enterprise of supplying Montfermeil with water; but this good man only worked until seven o'clock in the evening in summer, and five in winter; and night once come and the shutters on the ground floor once closed, he who had no water to drink went to fetch it for himself or did without it.”
(The coin Hapgood translates as “half a farthing” is a liard, or a quarter of a sou. That works out awkwardly to 1.25 centimes (1/80 of a franc) in decimal currency, which was adopted in 1795 and used continuously even through regime changes, but the base-12 coins from the Ancien Régime livre/sou/denier system were still in circulation and remained legal tender until the mid-19th century. MORE THAN YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT FRENCH CURRENCY.)
As for toilets, you used a chamberpot at night and then emptied it into the sewer (in the city) or latrine (in the country) later. Apartment buildings would also have a communal toilet–basically a seat with a hole in it that emptied into a waste pit, which was also used for dirty wash-water and kitchen refuse. In urban England city workers would come through and empty the pit at night for use as fertilizer, but I’m not sure about Paris; it might have been the responsibility of the building owner or, in practice, the concierge, to either empty household waste into the sewers or hire someone to do it. The actual setup of the waste pit varied from “hole in the ground” to “big pail” to more elaborate earth-closet systems as the state of sanitation progressed, but that’s only relevant to the tenants in terms of how stinky the Seat of Ease is. From their end, no matter what the underlying sanitation system, it’s still a non-portable Port-A-Potty.
Full-immersion bathing was incredibly labor intensive due to water-hauling, but people still got clean–pitcher, wash-basin, washcloth. If you could afford nice furniture you’d probably have a washstand to hold it all, maybe even a fancy lavabo system with a tap. (Basically a sink, except the water came from a small tank instead of being piped in, and the basin had to be emptied by hand.) Hair-washing was rare, though: you cleaned your hair by brushing it really thoroughly to get rid of dirt and excess oil, then you washed your hairbrush.
Children wear cat masks as they play near the rubble of destroyed homes in the neighborhood of Zeitoun in Gaza City in Occupied Palestinian Territory. The masks were distributed to children by the UNICEF-supported Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, a community-based local NGO.
UNICEF is taking the lead role in coordinating humanitarian and recovery assistance in the sectors of child protection, education (together with the international NGO Save the Children), psychosocial support and mental health (with the World Health Organization), as well as water, sanitation and hygiene.
Hopefully this explanation is easy to follow and hopefully I don’t miss anything!
Things you may need depending on what you’re sanitizing:
70% rubbing alcohol or higher (the higher the better so it dries faster)
clean paper towels
cup or jar (something to pour alcohol in and dip products into)
Start by filling your spritz bottle with alcohol, then fill a cup with alcohol (if you have pencils/lipsticks), and spray your sharpener with alcohol (if you have pencils).
Pressed powders- Gently wipe the top layer of your pressed powder with a tissue. Spritz with alcohol, the product (don’t saturate too much, one spritz should do) and the packaging..every surface inside and out.Alternatively, you can wipe down the packaging with a cotton ball saturated with alcohol (same goes for packaging on everything). Set it on your paper towels and let dry.
Lipstick- Wipe the tip with a tissue. Give the whole lipstick part of the product a quick dip in your cup of alcohol, spritz the packaging with alcohol, or use your saturated cotton balls. ..every surface, don’t forget the inside of the cap. Set it on your paper towels and let dry.
Pencils- Sharpen your pencil, dip the tip in the alcohol, spray packaging or use a saturated cotton ball, let dry on paper towels.
Creams/Gels- Spray the product with alcohol, but don’t saturate it too much because that could ruin the product. Spritz the packaging or use your saturated cotton ball, let dry on paper towels. Note: If your product has a lot of divots and dips from brushes then it may not get completely sanitized.
Foundations with pumps- Spritz every surface with alcohol or use a saturated cotton ball, paying special attention to the pump. Let dry.
Brushes- Wash with baby shampoo, spritz with alcohol. Let dry on their side.
The following can’t be sanitized: Loose powders, foundations without pumps, and products with wand applicators (mascara, liquid liners, some lip glosses, concealers), squeezy tubes like lip glosses.
Protip: To keep products that can’t be sanitized germ-free you can use disposable applicators and never go from your face to your product with a used applicator. Using a mixing palette is helpful also, that way you can put your product on there and double dip if you need to!
In nature where does the poop go? Why are the forests not covered top to bottom in the feces of various animals? (A question inspired by groups of ferel animals that live near-by)(also from yrs of cleaning up my backyard)
But the forest IS covered with feces! You just might not recognize it! In the bush (and in your backyard if you are patient enough) fecal matter gets broken down in a few different ways:
1. You call them bottom feeders, I call them recyclers. Organisims called Detritivores (e.g. earth worms, beetles, and flies) ingest and digest organic material from other organisms and speed up the process of decomposition. Another group of organisms, Decomposers (e.g. fungi and bacteria) break down organic material using biochemical processes, no internal digestion required. (x)
2. Coprophagy (or why I’m glad I’m not a hindgut fermenter) Some animals ingest the fecal material of other animals. Now they might do this because they specialize in fecal matter consumption (like our friend the Dung Beetle who is a lovely Detritivore), or perhaps it is in order to gain bacteria required to process plant matter in their environment. (x) Some species, like those in the order Lagomorpha (i.e. hares, rabbits, and pikas) have very short digestive tracts and so they will re-ingest their own fecal material so they can metabolize all of the nutrients within. (x) These are called hindgut fermenters. (x)
3. Don’t drink the water (unless you know it’s treated) The environmental conditions like the temperature, moisture, and oxygen content of the area will affect the decomposition rate. Hint: This is why it seems like there is dog poo EVERYWHERE after that first big snow melt! As feces break down they act like every other organic (and inorganic) compounds do, they become a part of the ecosystem they are in. Now this could be through the ways I listed above, or by being integrated into the terrestrial cocktail (if you don’t think poo is in soil please talk to a gardener), or by joining the watershed. That’s right friends, the water is full of poo. This is why modern conveniences like water filtration plants are amazing… but something we seem to take for granted.
Did you know that approximately ONE IN NINE people world wide do not have access to clean water?!? How about 3.4 million people die each year from water sanitation related issues. Of which, the majority of illnesses are caused by fecal matter! (x)
So yes, dear Anon, poop is everywhere. Not always in those neat little scat droppings in the forest, or the cow pies in the field, but it’s in the soil, it’s in the water, it’s even in the air in what is called a fecal mist for up to two hours after you flush the toilet!!! (Who’s gonna put the lid down now?) (x, x) Clearly it isn’t going to kill you… but I would still wash your hands regularly, avoid cross contamination in the kitchen, and don’t go drinking water from a stream or anywhere without the appropriate sanitation / sterilization pills, filters, or other treatment methods.
Can you imagine not having a toilet? Around the world, 1.1 billion people defecate in the open, contaminating their environments and water sources and spreading diseases like diarrhoea, which kills 2,000 children under 5 every day. In the run up to World Toilet Day on November 19, we’ll be sharing images and facts like these.
Pictured, girls walk towards newly constructed toilets in Mhondoro district, Zimbabwe.
It’s a game-changing piece of technology, an instrument that brought forth a revolution in sanitation and public health thousands of years ago. Yet most of us in the developed world pay it no mind until the moment it clogs.
Unbelievably, there are an estimated 2.5 billion people living today who don’t have access to a clean and safe toilet. It’s more than an inconvenience–life without a loo levies huge health and economic fines on people and societies.