Back to poo flinging. Or rather, not flinging poo, discarding it indiscriminately, or wasting it. Sorry. I can’t resist the jokes, wasting waste was just too… Anyway.
I wrote earlier this week about capitalizing on human waste. The benefits of capitalism when it comes to dealing with human waste and providing incentives for removal of a potential disease vector extends beyond the canny entrepreneurs in developing countries, however. If you can make money from it, people will deal in it. My mother pointed out that night soil men have been around in cities since cities were a thing. Thanks to Moira Greyland Peat, I came across a timely article about the perils of poop.
The article discusses the lack of hygiene that has led to almost 400 outbreaks of Hepatitis, an outbreak that has been linked by confirming that the genome of the virus is the same. The virus will linger for months, and although simple handwashing will help if you come in contact with it, the ubiquity of poop means that exposure can happen at unexpected places and times. I have to wonder that if the homeless could somehow get money for their waste, if this would cut down on the outbreak of disease. Whether or not the ‘environmental consciousness’ that led to a ban on plastic bags that helped contain the disease carrying waste, I’m certain that if we could capitalize on poo – just like we have on cans and bottles – the problem would be reduced. I know I’m not alone in seeing rough-looking people combing the sides of roads for cans. A few dollars makes a difference, and they have the time on their hands. It reduces the litter on the side of the road.
Poo is a stinky, nasty problem, and it’s only one symptom of a homelessness problem that has, like a Hydra, many heads. But it’s something worth thinking about – because Hep A is no light matter, any more than other fecal-borne disease are. Raising public awareness of the harm to the environment isn’t going to impinge on the conscience of the homeless. They don’t have the time or the energy to care about the potential they have to harm others or their planet. But if we can come up with a way for them to profit from it… that’s what will make a difference. And I’m not talking about using tax monies for this project. That’s no answer at all. Although we might want to balance what it costs to clean up encampments like the one the article talks about with what it would cost to start up a self-sustaining business model that would capitalize on crap.