5 Places Covered in Poop


Because waste elimination is perceived as somewhat undignified, we sometimes choose to ignore the idea that culturally or historically important areas could actually harbor ... poop. And lots of it. These five notable locations happen to be contaminated by plenty of misplaced fecal matter.

1. Mount Everest

With an average of 700 climbers every season and exactly zero janitors, the world’s most formidable mountain has been stockpiling number twos for decades: By one estimate, more than 26,000 pounds of it is deposited every year. The problem has become so acute that in March 2015, Nepal announced Everest was practically a biohazard and reminded visitors to carry all of their trash back down with them. While considerate, this will not address the existing threat: In a terrifying prediction, one geologist told Think Progress that climate change could mean all the poo buried in melting snow might one day resurface.  

2. The Streets of San Francisco

The undulating, roller-coaster layout of San Francisco’s streets has made them possibly the country’s most famous urban roadway. So why poop on it? The city is home to over 7000 homeless people who have only limited access to bathroom facilities, meaning their bowel movements are often left in the street. There were nearly 1000 "reports of human excrement" in June 2014 alone, according to the city. One resident even created a poop map, which allows people to type in an address and assess their chances of stepping in it. 

3. The Landgate Arch

Rye, East Sussex, England is home to a magnificent medieval structure dating back to the 14th century: the roofless Landgate Arch, built in the time of King Edward III. When district representatives checked in on it in early 2015, they found they could barely budge the doors. That’s because 25 tons of pigeon poop had accumulated thanks to the open-air design. An environmental clean-up crew was dispatched to vacuum the waste out, with lead scrubber Mike Walker offering a sober assessment: "It was like walking on a giant chocolate cake." 

4. The National Mall

Washington, D.C.'s reflective pool attracts a number of tourists, both human and fowl—but it’s the latter that has ridiculously poor public manners. Canada geese frequent the Mall, each one leaving up to two or three pounds of poop on the grounds every day and turning what should be a casual stroll into a fecal landmine. Park services have recently taken to walking border collies on the premises, which corral the geese into other, poop-friendly areas.  

5. The Playboy Mansion

In a 2006 tell-all titled Bunny Tales, former Hefner Girlfriend Izabella St. James claimed life inside the fabled Playboy Mansion had a distinct odor. With a number of dogs roaming the halls, she alleged it was not uncommon to step in their waste or witness Hugh Hefner scrambling to retrieve poos from dogs that weren’t yet housebroken. When a stained bedroom carpet was replaced, St. James bemoaned that it was a patterned dark blue, making it even harder to spot the piles. Hefner would later issue a denial of some of her claims while confirming others. He did not address whether houseguests have to check the bottom of their shoes.

Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images
Better Sit Down for This: Japan Wants to Modernize Its Squat Toilets for the Tokyo Olympics
Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images
Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images

Culture shock abounds in every foreign country, but few experiences can be as off-putting to an international tourist as walking into a bathroom and encountering a toilet you don't entirely know how to use. Perhaps that's why, in advance of the influx of tourists headed to Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the country is looking to modernize its traditional squat toilets. According to Lonely Planet, the Japanese tourist ministry is trying to encourage municipalities to update their public restrooms with the Western-style toilets that visitors might be more accustomed to.

Though Japan is known for its elaborate, high-tech toilets with built-in bidets, seat heaters, and other perks, many of its public bathrooms have more simple accommodations. According to the country's tourist bureau, out of the 4000 public toilets near Japan's major tourist hot spots, around 42 percent are of the squatting variety rather than the kind with a raised bowl and seat. Now, squat toilets aren't just holes in the ground—they're usually made of the same materials most sitting toilets are and have flushing mechanisms. Except with a squat toilet, the flat ceramic pan is placed at ground level so you can crouch over it to do your business.

To make international visitors who are particular about their toilets more comfortable as they tour Japan, the Japan Tourism Agency has started offering subsidies for local governments that want to renovate their public restrooms. These grants are also available to private businesses and councils, according to Lonely Planet. The money can be used to either add more Western-style toilets or update existing models. (We can only hope some will take the opportunity to buy the kind that plays music.)

It's a bit of a shame that the Japanese government is so invested in getting rid of the country's squat toilets, because squatting is probably better for your health, at least when it comes to hemorrhoids. But at least it will be a welcome change for people with bad knees.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).


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