Rose George has a growing history of covering off-beat topics, such as
writing about Saddam Hussein's birthday party and exploring the Alternative
World Cup. Tackling the topic of human bodily waste is quite risky, and while
George admits to being on the receiving end of many jokes, she effectively
presents the topic as a serious public health issue supported by a riveting
barrage of information.
At one end of the waste disposal spectrum are the luxurious
Washlet toilets she
finds throughout Japan - the bottom of the line model has a built-in bidet
system, a heated seat, and a control panel; while higher-end products monitor
blood pressure and play music. Since 1980, TOTO, an esteemed Japanese toilet
manufacturer, has sold 20 million Washlets to Japan's population of 160 million.
So commonplace in Japan are these toilets that census figures have...
Beyond the Book
In The Big Necessity
Rose George introduces readers to biogas
digesters in rural China. Biogas digesters (often shortened to biodigesters) are
permanent structures, usually constructed of cement, in which waste
(human, animal and agricultural leftovers) decompose in the lower section
causing the micro-organisms to release methane that is collected in the upper
Theres evidence that biogas was used to heat bath water in Assyria around 10 BC. The first modern-day biodigester was built in a leper colony in Bombay India in 1859. China began using biogas technology back in the late nineteenth century. By the
end of 2005 there were about 17 million digesters, predominantly in rural areas,
with about 50 million...