Birthday musings

Sat, 12/12/2015 - 09:41 — Compost Stu

Today is my birthday and I have spent it helping an Irish film crew shoot a series about wwoofing on my farm at Barkers Vale. They are promoting the Irish indigenous language (Gaelic) and much of the conversation is in Gaelic. It sounds great, like a cross between Dutch and Swedish. One of the most interesting scenes was the “emptying the compost toilet” scene, where the main presenter point blank refuses to have anything to do with the job, whilst her male counterpart tries to coax her and bribe her to have a go. Eventually it is she who bribes him with breakfast in bed so that she can stay ten metres away. I do my best to help, even offering up a handful of lovely, well composted humanure for her perusal, to no avail. The scene has just reinforced something I know only too well, women, in general, are more likely to be averse to composted human by-products than men. Sorry ladies, it’s just a fact. Why, however, is worth considering. Has society programmed women to be more afraid of germs than men? Has three generations of female targeted advertising of household disinfectants and chemicals taken its toll on the female psyche? Or are there deeper roots to this weird phenomenon? I am sure that my speculations are just that, it would take some serious study of the issue to really get to the cause; however, in the meantime, women are unwittingly standing in the way of progress toward a more sustainable eco-sanitised future. Third world countries in particular, where ground water contaminated with untreated effluent, could benefit hugely if women promoted the use of composting toilets over aqueous solutions to waste water treatment. Women in these countries however, are also subject to the idea that water washes the problem away and makes everything clean, influenced no doubt by western centralised sewage which is seen as the ultimate panacea. The simple fact though is that de-centralised sewage systems are the only affordable option for most developing countries , and composting toilets have a natural role in separating disease causing pathogens from other waste water, thereby helping to stem the spread of disease. Another contributor to the issue is the reluctance of NGO’s to adopt eco-sanitation methods. It is abhorrent that NGO’s are talking about sinking bores for water when raw sewage is still entering the water table via long drops. An effort should be made to listen to environmental scientists rather than engineers when it comes to solving sanitation problems in the third world.

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