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.
* 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 ShittersA 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 http://holyshitters.com/