Category Archives: Sanitation

Miss Tampon Liberty

In the 1980s, when menstruation was generally considered taboo, artist Jay Critchley made art out of discarded plastic tampon applicators washed up and collected on local beaches. With no idea what the items were used for, Critchley could not have known that his curiosity would lead to a decades-long quest to understand and improve issues surrounding menstrual product waste.

Reading Lists: Waste Colonialism and Palestine

When there’s conflict, academics and teachers will often put together a reading list or syllabus to show the breadth and depth of knowledge on a topic that is catching broad public attention. These reading lists are designed to add context, nuance, and history to public discussions (e.g. The Standing Rock Syllabus (2016); The Environmental Data […]
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Nigeria’s COVID-19 waste management policy should include the informal sector

Though Nigeria approved a national solid waste management policy earlier this year, it does not provide a plan to include the large informal sector. An inclusive policy is one recognising and involving informal waste workers in solid waste management while also yielding improvements in their lives and waste management performance.

A Bibliography of Trash Animals

Gulls. Pigeons. Rats. Lice. These ‘trash animals’ live alongside waste, filth, ruination and decay. Attitudes, behaviour and infrastructure aimed at dealing with ‘trash animals’ tell us a lot about systems of discarding. The following is a bibliography of ‘trash animals’ research.

The power (& disempowerment) of Menstrual Hygiene Management

Development initiatives focused on menstrual health and sanitary pads in Southern countries actually disempower women as knowers and innovators.

Does recycling actually conserve or preserve things?

By Samantha MacBride There are a series of assumptions behind the familiar assertion that recycling saves resources and energy, and in so doing, protects the environment. These assumptions are in the motto, “recycling saves trees.” With recycling  – one assumes – used materials stand in for raw materials. This way, recycled content cuts down on […]
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Recycling Reconsidered: A must-read text for discard studies

If I could only recommend one text in discard studies, it would be Recycling Reconsidered by Samantha MacBride (2011, MIT Press).

Why it’s easier for India to get to Mars than to tackle its toilet challenge

In 2013, India became the fourth country in the world (after Russia, the United States and the European Union) and the only emerging nation to launch a Mars probe into space. But it remains part of the group of 45 developing countries with less than 50% sanitation coverage, with many citizens practising open defecation, either due to lack of access to a toilet or because of personal preference.

Superbugs evolve in waste water, and could end up in our food

While the conversation on antibiotic resistance has started, one part of the story has not been highlighted. The risks to human and ecosystem health are strongly connected to poor water quality.

The Ocean Conservatory’s Call for Mass Incineration in Asia: Disposability for Profit, Fantasies of Containment, & Colonialism

The Ocean Conservatory would like to burn 80% of the waste in coastal Asia with US-made incinerators. According to a wide range of experts and grassroots organizations from around the world, that’s a problem.