I am currently embracing my few weeks in America with a little out west skiing in Colorado. To prevent myself from rambling about the natural elements - breathtaking snow tickled trees and rolling mountains that are constantly caressed by either sunlight or downy powder - I'll cut to the chase by saying facilities are nice here. For the purpose of this post, I'll focus on bathroom facilities. All the toilet seats are squeaky clean and the toilets are automatic flush. The stalls are roomy and there is a huge mirror infront of the sink that is never fogged, despite the clash of heat and cold in the indoor facilities. The paper towel dispensers are motion sensing, and incase you prefer hand dryers, there are four of those in each bathroom as well.
This afternoon as we took a brief hiatus from the slopes, I took a trip to the bathroom and read the text on the hand dryer as it jetted the water from my palms. The notice bragged about the eco-friendly nature of the device - it saves paper with every use (!!!!). For a moment, I mentally commended the effort, but then I thought, well, they must be rather costly to install and they still use energy with every use. Even if it's not paper, it's only so eco-friendly, as the energy is not reusable. Then I allowed my recently developed bias to overcome me as I thought, Tanzania has it right.
There are two types of toilets in Tanzania. One is a hole in the ground with four wooden or cement walls built around it. A bit uncomfortable at times, but for an eager traveler, definitely an easy adjustment. You just squat and go. There is a bucket of water if you need to "flush", but there is no paper whatsoever. If you need paper, bring it with you. Use hand sanitizer in your office or wherever you came from to clean your hands afterward.
The second type is called a European bathroom (the ones we use here). Sometimes there's TP, sometimes not. There is the small or big flush option on almost all toilets to conserve water. Then there is a modest sink outside the stall with soap, but no towels. That's what your clothes are for.
Let me be clear - little to no TP, eco-friendly flush, and no paper towels. And we're the first world country. Yeah, maybe it's a little uncomfortable at first, but it is a breeze to adjust to.
I am not suggesting that America adopts these mechanisms; I think they require too much sacrifice for our consumer interests. I understand and agree that America has earned many of its privileged comforts, but at the same time the deterioration of the environment it is something that is happening all around the world, mostly as a result of the lifestyles of consumers like ourselves. Tanzanians have adopted lifestyle choices that are comfortable for them and beneficial to the environment. I think that in America, we still can give some on the comfort end of the spectrum to live truly eco-friendly lifestyles.