The Big Necessity Book Summary - The Big Necessity Book explained in key points
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The Big Necessity summary

Rose George

The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters

4.9 (11 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

'The Big Necessity' by Rose George is a non-fiction book that explores the cultural and social significance of human waste. It delves into the history, science, and politics of sanitation while providing insights into the global sanitation crisis.

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    The Big Necessity
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    Lack of sanitation is a huge global health problem with deadly consequences.

    Most people prefer not to think about what happens to all the stuff we flush down the toilet. As the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind. That said, many people in the world don’t have this luxury.

    In fact, 2.6 billion people live in environments utterly devoid of sanitation.

    This doesn’t mean they’re forced to use a public toilet or even a dirty old outhouse that empties into a drain. It means that 2.6 billion people have no access to a toilet of any kind. They have to defecate where they can – in public, in the woods or even in plastic bags which they then discard in the narrow alleyways of overcrowded slums.

    People in such conditions constantly walk on feces and get it on their clothes, which can result in it getting into food and drinking water.

    And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just consider this upsetting fact: Four out of ten people live every day in the midst of human excrement.

    This global sanitation shortage causes a staggering amount of disease: One out of every ten illnesses in the world can be traced back to a lack of sanitation, which can lead to anything from poor hygiene to contaminated water. In fact, the number of children who have died from diarrhea in the past decade is greater than the combined death toll of all armed conflict since World War II.

    The reason for this is simple. One gram of feces can contain ten million viruses, one million bacteria, 1000 parasite cysts and 100 worm eggs – and sanitation experts estimate that people living without sanitation sometimes consume as much as ten grams of fecal matter in one day.

    The result of this?

    Every 15 seconds, a child dies from diarrhea. And since approximately 90 percent of diarrhea is due to fecally contaminated food or water, it’s no wonder that UNICEF considers it the biggest barrier to survival for a small child in a developing country, more of threat than AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria.

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    What is The Big Necessity about?

    The Big Necessity (2008) takes a detailed look at the issues surrounding human excrement. Most people would rather ignore these issues – but turning a deaf ear is precisely what’s led to the sanitation crises plaguing the world today. Sanitation is too important to dismiss; a lack of it is causing thousands of needless deaths worldwide. Find out what can be done to help in these blinks.

    The Big Necessity Review

    The Big Necessity (2008) by Rose George is an eye-opening exploration of the often overlooked world of human waste management. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It delves into the dirty but essential topic of toilets and sanitation, shedding light on the global sanitation crisis and its impact on public health.
    • With meticulous research and on-the-ground reporting, George uncovers fascinating historical, cultural, and political aspects of sanitation, making it a captivating read.
    • The book challenges our assumptions about what happens after we flush and encourages us to think critically about the human right to sanitation and the need for sustainable solutions.

    Best quote from The Big Necessity

    ...HIV/AIDS cannot be discussed without talking frankly about sex… the problem of sanitation cannot be discussed without talking frankly about shit. - Umesh Panday, Nepali sanitation activist

    —Rose George
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    Who should read The Big Necessity?

    • Anyone who’s ever had a bowel movement
    • Anthropologists interested in city-planning, urban design and living
    • Activists interested in global health and saving lives

    About the Author

    Rose George’s writings have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The Guardian and Scientific American. Her other books include Ninety Percent of Everything and A Life Removed.

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    The Big Necessity FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Big Necessity?

    The main message of The Big Necessity is the importance of understanding and improving sanitation practices worldwide.

    How long does it take to read The Big Necessity?

    The reading time for The Big Necessity varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Big Necessity a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Big Necessity is a thought-provoking book that sheds light on a crucial aspect of human life. It is definitely worth exploring.

    Who is the author of The Big Necessity?

    The author of The Big Necessity is Rose George.

    What to read after The Big Necessity?

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