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Culture Shock – Toilet Faux Pas Abroad

COMMUNITY CENTERClean Water & WaterwaysGreen Homes & BusinessesNov 25, 2013Sarah Crawford

Author: Sarah Crawford

A “No Toilet Paper” reminder in Greece (source: in-laws recently traveled to Greece, a country that immediately has me thinking of beautiful islands, ancient culture, and of course, delicious Mediterranean food, which I can never get enough of.  However, their trip included another equally vivid experience, Greek plumbing.  As it turns out, those of us used to modern conveniences not only take our toilets for granted, we take our plumbing for granted too!  In places like Greece you can’t put toilet paper down the toilet.  Their sewage pipes are much smaller than the 4 inch plumbing we have, so you put your used toilet paper in a trash can to avoid clogging the pipes.

It just doesn’t seem right, does it?  So why in the world do they have such small sewage pipes?  Well, Greeks were using toilets long before toilet paper was even invented!  I guess they didn’t see the need to make those pipes any bigger.  In most hotels there are “No Paper” signs posted to remind everyone, but my in-laws spent the first week of their trip with family and inevitably forgot at least half of the time.  Apparently when you’ve been flushing TP your entire life it’s a hard habit to break.  Unfortunately, 1 week was more than the pipes could handle and their hosts were already digging up sewage pipes as they were driving away!  As memorable as the trip was for my in-laws, I get the impression it was equally as memorable for their hosts.

So the next time you flush, thank your 4 inch plumbing for making your trip to the loo just a little more convenient.  And remember to always flush responsibly, wherever you are!  In Hampton Roads, this means only flushing toilet paper and “your contribution.”  Other items (even those labeled “disposable” or “flushable”), such as wipes, feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs, and paper towels, can block sewage pipes, and a blocked pipe is not the kind of memory you want to make.  By keeping trash out of your commode you will not only prevent messy backups into your home, you will prevent sewage spills into nearby waterways.  Keep your pipes happy, keep our waterways happy, and for goodness’ sake, keep your hosts happy.