empty cans after recycling paint at Johnson county kansas environmental facility

How to Safely Dispose of Paint: Johnson County Kansas does it right

Solvents, and pigments and paint, oh my! Ten years worth of old paints, stains, pesticides and other unspeakables had been gathering rust and dust in my basement and the time had come to deal with them. In my particular suburbia of Johnson County, Kansas, the question of what to do with my personal hazmat generates an increasingly rare answer: “We can help you with that!”

With an appointment residents can drop off a long list of bad stuff at a facility located in the the county’s oldest wastewater treatment plant. (Businesses and other non-residents must apply for the program.) My appointment was this past weekend, so I loaded up an embarrassing amount of half-full containers of nasty what-not and headed out!

entrance gate Johnson County kansas environmental hazmat disposal facility

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Aqua tube flushable toilet paper roll

Sustainable Curiosities and Novelties: Flushable Toilet Paper Tube

Aqua tube flushable toilet paper roll

Aqua Tube Toilet Paper Tube: photographed in grass because it’s “green”

Consider the fate of the common Toilet Paper Tube: destined to be violently ripped and separated from its Toilet Paper child whom it has cradled and supported since the day of TP’s birth manufacture. While TP flushes merrily downstream headed for the rapture of sustainable biodegradation, the Mother Tube is forgotten, abandoned, tossed…then forced to travel alone, void of greenness, to a dark and desolate landfill populated by despised, low-life non-recyclables.

Well, no more. Because THIS Tube is flushable. THIS Tube shall not be left behind, but shall be safely flushed with its beloved TP, where they can biodegrade and return to our earth naturally. Together.

Many thanks to Constance Ward at Thought Leader Zone, who found this Sustainable Curiosity in her Marseille, France lodgings while attending World Water Forum 6. Somehow she knew we’d like it!

Note: This item has not been deemed flushable by Pat and Dan. Also, since we Don’t Flush the Baby Wipes, should we flush the tubes?

Sustainable Curiosities and Novelties: In which we present the oddball, assorted knick-knacks, inventions and ideas for more sustainable Earth occupation by humankind. Or something like that. Submissions welcome, contact the Thirsty in Suburbia “Curator” here.

problem of open defecation sanitation water

An Eye-Pooping Infographic on Water and Sanitation Challenges

The poo poo problem continues unabated, and here’s a genuinely crappy infographic for all you visual learners out there! I’ll bet this was the assignment of a lifetime for some lucky graphic designer, and a review of the associated facts won’t hurt the rest of us either.

This fab graphic was submitted by Tony Shin and comes hardwired to some SEO scheme related to online nursing programs, but never mind, I still love it and consider it a fair trade to share such an awesome, informative graphic! Enjoy, but first let me highlight some personal favorite details:

microbes water and sanitation

We’re wastewater BFFs! Despite their deadly nature and bad attitude, these fellows still look pretty cute!

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world water day hangover

World Water Day Hangover

Content warning: Depressing, unfunny & negative diatribe. Regular programming resumes tomorrow.

world water day hangoverBleauh. I don’t feel so good! It’s that nasty #WWD hangover again!

So another World Water Day has come and gone. Each year I dread this day. I feel guilty because I SHOULD write somthing moving, thought-provoking and memorable. Raise some awareness! But I don’t. Why?

Because “awareness” is good, but meaningful action on a global scale is much more difficult. Because year to year, it seems the situation remains frustratingly the same…or even worse. Because it seems at times the problems are nearly insurmountable. Because rather than a slew of #water #wwd #whatever hash tags on one day, I’d rather see some perceptible results for the other 364.

So all of you who continue to work hard for #DAWWD (that’s “Days after World Water Day”), I am in awe of you, I salute you, I thank you. You are the people who someday may make World Water Day an event where progress is celebrated… and the day when I look forward to writing a hysterical, “remember when” post in this space.

Photo by Phil Gyford via Creative Commons on Flickr

Dave Dudley rural route 1 drought

h2o mp3: Drought – Dave Dudley

Dave Dudley rural route 1 droughtIn a classic country song there’s rarely just one misfortune; the bad luck and the soul crushers just keep piling on, like some kind of perverted torture sandwich. In the song Drought just when our hero is thinkin’ it can’t get any worse, what with his good woman takin’ off, next comes a crop killin’ drought ready to destroy his already tough hardscrapple farming existence. And what man can fix that?

The late Dave Dudley (1928-2003) was pumping out the country from the sixties through the eighties and in that hard-working Nashville way recorded more than 70 albums during his career. (Drought is from his fifth album Rural Route 1, released in 1965.) You may remember Dudley as the musical muse for truckers. His biggest hit, Six Days on the Road, was the song that started that whole big-rig trucker music craze in the 1960s.

So have a listen and if you want ol’ Dave’s recommendation for dealing with drought: “Pray with the coming of each dawn that this crop killing drought will be gone.”

Play the track


You can dam out the water and shut the wind out
But a man ain’t been born who can destroy a drought

There’s a hot screaming wind at my door
but I just don’t care anymore
There’s a crop killing drought on the way
and my good woman she left me today

Oh she stayed just as long as she could
but then the farm has not treated us good
She begged me to pack up and go
but then farming is all that I know

You can dam out the water and shut the wind out
But a man ain’t been born who can destroy a drought

She cried as if I were to blame
but the Lord knows I can’t make it rain
There’s a hot screaming sun up in the sky
it’s so still I can hear the grass die
So I’ll wait for the coolness of dark
and bear up to this pain in my heart
And I’ll pray with the coming of each dawn
that this crop killing drought will be gone

You can dam out the water and shut the wind out
But a man ain’t been born who can destroy a drought

Occupy Water Tower: The Revel’s in the Details

Water Tower Stand-Off; photo via napa.patch.com

News overload! We’re all scanning the headlines. Hundreds of them, sometimes, in a single day. And only a few select, tantalizing, provocative links ultimately earn our coveted click-through.

What a shame. Because if you scanned right by this item, well… you missed some amazing details.

Man ends water tower occupation after six hours

You can read the whole story now if you like, but how about I make it really easy and clip just the best funny, sad and ironic details?

The broad scenario: In Napa Valley, California, Adrain Madrigal, a mentally disturbed hispanic man, “occupied” the top of an old tannery water tower for 6.5 hours before being taken into custody.

Six stunningly incredible details:

  1. Throughout the day, Madrigal could be seen climbing in and out of the water tank through a hatch. Why it’s amazing: Cartoons as reality–the old “escape hatch” move, a classic Looney Toonie setup!
  2. A helmeted, rifle-bearing SWAT agent made efforts to reach the man, but he repeatedly evaded them by moving to the other side of the water tank, using a pivoting ladder that is attached to the very top of the tower.
    Why it’s amazing: More Looney Tunes fun–a modern-day Bugs Bunny evading the shotgun-toting Elmer Fudd via swinging ladder!
  3. Threw a heavy metal can filled with rocks at officers on watch below. Why it’s amazing: Premeditation! He must have actually prepared by carrying rock-filled cans to the top of the tower.
  4. Authorities initially tried to persuade Madrigal to come down, offering him cigarettes and tacos. Why it’s amazing: Don’t know exactly why. It just is.
  5. Six hours into the standoff, with the sun going down, he began shouting for “agua.” Why it’s amazing: He’s on a water tower! The irony! Not to mention the fact that he took canned stones to the top, but forgot to bring along water, tacos and cigs.
  6. Madrigal came down from the tower around 5:50 p.m. after repeatedly asking authorities at the scene for water. Why it’s amazing: Could this be the start of the oft-predicted water-centered conflict and conquest? Yes, it is obvious that political authorities with access to water are using it to oppress those without! Right now, right in California!
  7. Madrigal may be the same person a manager found on the property Tuesday, who said he was looking for a job. He was told to return early the next day. Why it’s amazing: Occupy Water Tower. Wake up people, it’s not about tacos and cigs. It’s about jobs and water. And that’s a fact. 
Poo paper scratch pad made from elephant dung

Greenwashed Gifts May Require Strong Soap

While round-about on Black Friday I’ve noticed that the shelves are bulging with “green” products for your giving and receiving delight! However, many of these “green” items fall into a definite grey area in usefulness, practicality and good taste.

Take this little gem of a gift I recently received – Poo Poo Paper! That’s right, paper lovingly fashioned in an exceedingly green manner from s***! “Why, thank you! I love it, it’s just what I wanted! If you’ll just set it over there for me, please…” How, I ask you, have we come to the enviro-insanity point where ANYONE would give a gift that proudly trumpets “Made with Real Poo!” Handle this one with kid gloves!

Poo paper scratch pad made from elephant dung

Let’s take a closer look at this, though, as it incorporates many of the marketing hallmarks of “perfect” little gifty-green goods vying for your attention and cash.

package label poo poo paper

1 – It’s unique! Wait until the recipient shouts in delight, “Why, I’ve never seen such a thing!”

2 – Recycling and/or reuse angle: Your green product should clearly state that it is either on it’s way from…(or properly headed to) the recycling bin. The big recycling logo is a must!

3 – Affordable price – but note that this isn’t the same as a “reasonable’ price for a similar non-green item.

inside cute label for poopoo paper scratch pad

Note the clever and cute elephant droppings and slogan!

4 – Direct ties to a less-privileged country/region: any point in the manufacturing/recycling chain counts! So, for example, you could NOT make acceptable greenie “poo paper” from elephant dung gathered at a Western zoo.

5 – Supports a broadly loved “cause.” Who has a problem with conservation of endangered elephants? Not you or me,surely!

6 – Hip and clever concept and presentation – “We’re number one at number two™” So cute, and really makes the shoppers at Urban Outfitters point and smile in approval!

price tag for poopoo paper

Can you guess how I misread “Scratch pad grass” before wearing my reading glasses?

Even NASA Deals With Crappy Infrastructure

Considering that the Space Shuttle Discovery weighs 4.5 million pounds at lift off and employs 2 solid rocket boosters, 3 main engines and 2 orbital thrusters, it’s insane to imagine that it was held back by a break in a 24-inch water line.

A water pipeline broke near the Kennedy Space Center launch complex on September 8th, closing the facility’s visitor center and delaying a planned “rollover”–the move of space shuttle Discovery from its hanger to the building where it is to be be prepared for its November 1st mission to the International Space Station.

NASA Webcam photos of the water main break via spaceref.com

The gushing pipeline break left the Kennedy Space Center without potable water or working restrooms, so non-essential personnel got the day off while tourists headed to the visitor center were turned away. A quick fix ensued and the Center reopened in the afternoon after water was restored to all locations except for one administrative building. The Visitor Center reopened the following day.

Hope they had a pallet or two of astronaut water around! Why, one can’t even have Tang without water!

So now, you too can enjoy the same inconveniences that the astronauts enjoy! Water main breaks occur, on average, 700 times every day in the US and Canada. (Also, see our CRAPPY INFRASTRUCTURE rss news feed below for “breaking” news around the clock.)

No privacy when taking care of your “private business”

Photo submitted by “Ryan” to consumerist.com

Hold it right there (literally!) if you care about protecting your privacy rights!

“Ryan” has  shared this sign with consumerist.com and the site notes  “at a certain Goodwill, you need a license to pee.”

This should put all you seat dribblers, clog causers, trash-can missers, countertop water-splashers, TP thieves and stall sharpie writers on notice. At Goodwill, we know who you are. We know where you live. Prepare for the consequences.