I couldn’t resist passing this article on about the absurdities of Russian habits. This article is so spot on, I could not have described it better myself.
Don’t even think of flushing that down the toilet! by Dave Burghardt
Russians have a strange fear of throwing toilet paper in the toilet, but everything else can be flushed down the pipes with no concerns whatsoever…
If you’re ever in a public restroom in Russia, you’ll see a small bucket (usually a plastic waste basket) sitting next to the throne. This is for used toilet paper because it is widely believed that toilet paper clogs the plumbing. You should throw the paper into the waste bin, but everything else is fine. I’m not sure why the Russians believe this. They dump a wide variety of things down the toilet, including potato and carrot peelings, old leftovers, chicken bones…and grease from frying pans. Now I’m no plumber, but I do believe that grease hitting cold water and pipes will instantly stick and gum up everything in the plumbing system, let alone those chicken bones. Toilet paper has a tendency to dissolve.
This is perhaps one of those old soviet-type beliefs of tossing paper down the john. Even back 10 years ago it was not surprising to find newspapers in public restrooms instead of “normal” toilet paper. Back in the mid-1990s, toilet paper was one of those “new things” that were hard to come by. Not today, however. This intimate process of using newspapers was obviously quite uncomfortable and I believe that it would not be good to toss large pieces of newspaper down the toilet as it would be sure to plug the sewer system. I remember the old days of using the Sears catalog at our cabin in Eastern Oregon when I was a kid, but that was an outhouse and not a conventional toilet. I was reminded of this horror when I first arrived in Russia.
But the tradition has remained for some reason. Even at restaurants and workplaces (mine included) there is a little basket for the TP. I ignore this and toss it right down the toilet. One thing I don’t do is throw scraps and vegetable peelings down the toilet and I’ll scrape grease out of the pan into a can or jar and toss that in the garbage can at home.
Some Russians have tried to explain to me that TP will plug the pipes. Where do they get this information? Throughout the Western world we don’t think twice about putting TP where it belongs. Even though newspapers have disappeared from public toilets (with perhaps some off-the-map locations in Russia), this “mind think” has remained. I wonder how long it will take the Russians to realize that toilet paper is much softer and dissolves much quicker than chicken bones.