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Toilet Trouble

In these uncertain times of toilet-paper-hoarding, having to get resourceful, and disinfectant wipes being used by the truckload, there are worries that our already struggling sewage systems will be unable to cope if people take to flushing all this. Here I am, writing to you live from isolation to remind you NOT to flush any kind of wipe down the toilet. Please, do not flush anything but toilet paper and excrement. That means no kitchen roll, no baby wipes, no surface wipes – this all needs to go in the bin.

The only things that should be flushed down the loo are 3Ps: poo, pee and (toilet) paper“.

No loo roll? No problem!

It’s not the end of the world if you find yourself without toilet paper in the near future. For quite some time, people were dealing with their business without it! Get back to your ancestral roots! Here are a couple of ideas:

Person holding many loose toilet rolls. Photo by Anna Shvets

  • Sluice/have a wash

Groundbreaking, right? But there really is no more effective way to clean up after you go, than to have a good wash! People have been doing it for a long time. If you’re fancy, use your bidet.

  • Use a sponge/cloth.

The Romans cleaned up after a number two using a sponge on a stick. If it’s good enough for the Romans, its good enough for you.

  • Leaves?

If you’re too scared of your own bum to clean it any other way, then nature’s toilet paper may be for you. Do not flush these down the toilet, the compost may be a better shout.

Think of the sewage system:

Sewage systems are fast moving environments, there isn’t a lot of time for anything to biodegrade down there. Not to mention the mostly anaerobic conditions do not benefit degradation. This means that even things that are biodegradable, will NOT breakdown in the sewage system. This includes thick paper products like paper towels. And it means that wipes (yes, even the biodegradable/flushable ones) are out of the question.

A picture of a dark underground tunnel

If we do not treat our sewage system with care and respect, we can cause a lot of problems for ourselves, and for the environment. It can be very easy to adopt the mindset of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when it comes to the sewage system – as it’s supposed to get rid of stuff. Unfortunately, it is only designed for some stuff (i.e. poop), anything else will cause blockages like the massive fatbergs that cause the whole system to crumble. Blockages like this can cause flooding and pollution. Not ideal. So respect your sewage system and bin it instead.

Only flush the three Ps: poop, pee, and (toilet) paper.

I hope you and all your loved ones are well! Wash your hands, stay safe, and stay home!  We all have a role to play, so ensure that you act responsibly.

Lots of love,

Jessica x

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I Live in Jamaica Now.

Evidently, my favourite thing to do is to just up and move halfway across the world. This time it’s Jamaica! I am currently working as an (unpaid) intern, doing communications and outreach for an environmental NGO. Really living-my-best-life kinda stuff. And it feels like it! I can already see that I am gonna be very sad when I have to leave, and I’ve only been here one month.

A sunset in the blue mountain forest over Kingston, Jamaica.

Environmentally, Jamaica is gorgeous. But for somewhere blessed with a natural beauty only rivalled by other tropical island nations, they don’t seem to be too keen on preserving it. The environmental consciousness is almost non-existent here. And as someone said to me, quite rightly so – where so many people are struggling on the breadline, there are more important things to worry about.

Despite this, a national single-use plastics ban was imposed. This was originally for (big) plastic bags and straws, but was expanded this January to include styrofoam. And yet… since I have been here, I have been offered so many plastic bags. Often when I’m like “I don’t need a bag”, they look at me like I’ve just told them my darkest secret. Par example, I was buying sweet potatoes in the supermarket and the look that came over the cashiers face when she asked if I hadn’t seen the bags available, was that of sheer panic. Followed by confusion, when I assured her my potatoes were bag-less by design, and that I didn’t want one. When I spoke to people about the ban, the problem seems to be that no one was consulted, or even warned that it was going to happen. The ban was just imposed and people had to deal with it. Paper bags and paper straws are now commonplace here but more because they have to be. How do you change a nation’s mindset?

nuh dutty up jamaica

While there is a lot to be desired in terms of environmentalism, there are so many things to be celebrated. There seems to be an increasing environmental awareness occurring. I’m not sure if this is because it’s my job to notice environmental activism, and those who are striving to make improvements. Mostly, I’ve noticed a lot about water preservation. In a drought-prone country, this is essential but it was nice to hear it on the radio  in the morning. They were even discussing the water footprint of meat and encouraging people to eat more vegetables!

The Jamaica Environment Trust has a Campaign ‘Nuh Dutty up Jamaica‘, where they are aiming to instil recycling and other environmentally sensitive ideals onto the Jamaican consciousness. And from what I can tell, they’re doing a pretty good job – by bringing a bag of recyclable plastic to one of their events, you can win a prize!

It’s exciting to see change happen in real-time. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments!

Jessica x

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I’m An ‘Eco’ Hoarder

I am a few days away from being finished with my degree and just under a week away from having to move (again). I am not someone who travels light, a constant source of stress for myself and those around me. But who am I without all my things?? No one. Anyway, as I am once more sifting through all my clothes and other things that I have accumulated, I realised something. Being environmentally aware has turned me into a hoarder. Some hereditary tendencies come into as well, I’m sure. But I keep things because I don’t really know what to do with them and feel guilty about just chucking them.

This is largely because:

  • I know what will happen to these items if I throw them away.
  • I know what will likely happen to them if I recycle them.
  • I know what will likely happen if I donate them.

They’ll end up in landfill. Or worse.

Take, for example, my old worn out gym trainers. I don’t need them any more, I have new ones that actually support my feet. I can’t donate them because they are worn out and who would want them. It would just mean they’d be thrown out next week and not today. Nike will apparently take any brand of athletic shoe to be recycled at participating stores, so I will have a look into that. Alternatively, you could donate to a charity, that shoes the needy abroad such as Sal’s Shoes or Shoe Aid.


I also have a big bag full of old make up, that I kid myself I will use again. If I’m honest with myself I know I only use max like 5 products so the bag of 50 will go forever unused. I have, in the past, seen the above bins in Boots but I am not sure if they are still hosting them, the website says very little. There are also the TerraCycle schemes which are free to use and set up, if there isn’t a collection point already near you.

Essentially this post serves as a public name and shame for myself. Marie Kondo your life, gal. But also I am lamenting the consumerist society that we are trapped in, and the existential crisis it is forcing me to have as I sit in front of my overflowing wardrobe. Just stop buying clothes, I hear you say. I cannot, unfortunately. I will not.

If you have any thoughts or tips please, leave them below!

Jessica xx

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