Our Mad Future Foretold in 1971

It’s giddy fun to look at vintage ephemera that predicts the future, usually because the predictions turn out to be so charmingly wrong. This 1971 item from Mad Magazine, though, turns out to be alarmingly right…except for the ultra-convenient home delivery! Four decades ago, a “Scene We’d Hate to See.” Today, a Scene We Wait to See. Mad, for sure!

1971 MAD MAGAZINE Spoof Advertisement Back Page Clean Air Water Milk

From the awesome Flickr photostream of Christian Montone

Pet Poop Risk Assessment. Seriously.

Pet poop pollutes! So it makes sense that there have been increased efforts of late to educate the public on BMPPPs (Best Management Pet Poop Practices.)

Some campaigns are creative, some are forgettable, but this one is just unbelievable!  Courtesy of Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, is HAPPI-Home Flyer 16: Pet Waste Management. (In their defense: this is dated August 2000 and they might well be shocked to learn that it is floating around live on the World Wide Web in 2010.)

After some general background information, nasty facts about crap, and a list of do’s and don’ts comes the real meat of the document, the part that’s going to CHANGE OUR BAD BEHAVIOR: a worksheet to complete your very own Pet Poop Risk Assessment Analysis and Action Plan.


Complete the risk assessment table on page 2 to determine the water pollution risks from your pets’ wastes. For each category, choose the set of practices that best fits your situation. Then, at the bottom of page 2, develop an action plan to minimize water pollution hazard.

So how crappy are our pet practices? Let’s find out, as I share my completed Risk Assessment and Action Plan with all of you! (Click the image for a larger view.)

Polluters, Ye Shall Feel My Wrath

Some of our brethern (and “cistern”) have had their faith tested…not in their religious beliefs, but in the safety of their local water supply. From Yahoo News,

MOSCOW – More than 100 Russian Orthodox believers have been hospitalized after drinking holy water during Epiphany celebrations in the eastern city of Irkutsk, an official said Monday.

A total of 117 people, including 48 children, were in the hospital complaining of acute intestinal pain after drinking water from wells in and around a local church last week, said Vladimir Salovarov, a spokesman for the Irkutsk Investigative Committee.

Salovarov said 204 people required some medical treatment after consuming the water, the source of which was a stagnant lake. He said, however, that it was too early to say what caused the illness.

Many Russians consider any water obtained on Epiphany — which they celebrate on Jan. 19 — to be holy.

The water is typically bottled for consumption later. Tap water in most of Russia is undrinkable.

Dumpster Diving in the Merrimack River

Imagine that your city dump is located at the bottom of a river, unseen below the surface… and that same river is the main source for your community’s drinking water. Most people would be shocked to realize how common this scenario actually is.

We need a wake up call, and the people of the Clean River Project in Lowell, Massachusetts answered the call with their July 25th “scavenger hunt” cleanup on the Merrimack River. The competition challenged people to see how much “stuff” they could collect from the river with scoring on a points-based system. (There were prizes for both “small boat” and “large boat” categories.)

Competitors dove in and hauled up cars and car parts, engines, a dishwasher, a couch, a tar and gravel roof (ugh!) and many other nasty polluting items from the river that supplies drinking water to Lowell, Lawrence and Methuen (home of the Methuen bottle tree, which was NOT pulled out of the river!)

After the cleanup, the debris was recycled or properly disposed of. I believe I would have preferred that all of it stayed there for a bit, the entire mountain of rusting, smelly, soggy crap, along with some signage explaining where this mess had been…and where it was headed. That’s my idea of compelling public education.

Congratulations to the hardy competitors! Video (with front-end advertising) and screenshots from

Showing Our Butts for Swain

Hello, people of the ADD age? HELLO! What does it take to get everyone to sit up and pay attention to the plight of our oceans and waterways? How about a guy swimming 1000 miles in the less-than-pristine Atlantic, yes ONE THOUSAND MILES- from Massachusetts to Washington DC, through all the rubbish, waste, sewage and toxic godknowswhat that’s now there?

Hello? Are you listening?!? If you haven’t yet heard of Christopher Swain, here are three things you should know.

1. Christopher Swain has begun a 1000+ mile swim from Marblehead, Massachusetts to Washington, DC to raise awareness of the challenges facing the ocean while helping students in over 2,000 classrooms launch projects designed to improve the health of our waterways and our world.

2. Dirty for Swain is an awareness campaign for Swain’s awareness campaign (an initiative supported by Timberland Earthkeepers). It includes a funny video (embedded below) with some lowbrow potty humor demonstrating how some are supporting the cause by “Getting Dirty for Swain”. The website throws down the challenge, “What will YOU do for Swain?”

3. At Thirsty in Suburbia, we’re ALL IN in for lowbrow potty humor, clean oceans and challenges, so we’re “showing our butts” for Swain. That is, we’re taking on this challenge by wearing jewelry made of cigarette butts in recognition of the millions of them that are discarded and leeching chemicals on our beaches and in our oceans and waterways. (We imagine Swain will encounter many thousands of butts during his journey!)

Below, Thirsty In Suburbia interns Virginia Leonard and Martha Leonard are SHOWING THEIR BUTTS FOR SWAIN. (They both report that this smelly exercise did indeed get their attention–Good job, Giant Ant Media–you are decisively speaking the language of our youth!)