Rose George: The Big Necessity

Bodily waste is common to all and as natural as breathing. We prefer not to talk about it, but we should―even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary conditions. Disease spread by bodily waste kills more people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death. Even in the United States, nearly two million people have no access to an indoor toilet, while the sewers of major cities worldwide are an infrastructure disaster waiting to happen. With razor-sharp wit and crusading urgency, mixing levity with gravity, Rose George’s The Big Necessity  breaks the silence, turning the taboo subject into a cause with the most serious of consequences.


Rose writes about subjects that are hidden, taboo, ignored or misunderstood. Her first book looked at what it’s really like to be a refugee: how do you wash in the jungle with no soap? What are “refugee windows”? The Big Necessity explored the modern state of sanitation, starting from the startling fact that 2.5 billion people have no toilet, and passing through how sewers function (when people throw fat, wet-wipes and motorbike parts down them); why Japan has the most advanced toilets in the world; and why diarrhea, an easily preventable condition, is the second biggest killer of children under 5, worldwide.