Julies Blog

Let's follow the Swiss

by Julie Finch-Scally

In my job as a Hygiene Consultant I have the opportunity to review the hygiene of hotels around the world.  To access these places I fly to the specific country.  This means I have to use public facilities in many and varied places.

I have been impressed by the toilets and cleanliness at Changi Airport in Singapore, and its automated checking system for users to express their opinions.  I have always found the toilet facilities at Canberra Airport, Australia to be of a high standard.  But I cannot say I am always happy with toilets on planes.

Flight time is valuable which means the longer the aircraft sits on the ground, money is not being made by the airline.  To overcome this, over the last several years, the turnaround of planes has become shorter.  This has led to a reduction of the time allowed for cleaning.  As planes have expanded catering for more passengers, there are more toilets to clean and less time to do the job.

Recently I had the privilege of travelling on a fast train in Switzerland.  The train was busy, and when I found an empty seat I had to remove several old newspapers so I could sit down.  Normally I would have looked for another place, but as there were no other seats available the newspapers had to be put on the floor.

About ten minutes into the trip a man in a blue dustcoat walked through the carriage with a large plastic rubbish bag.  He was collecting all the passenger’s rubbish, such as empty cups and dishes.  He was delighted to take the old newspapers. 

This is the first time I have ever seen a cleaner walking through a train collecting rubbish.  I know air stewards do so on planes, but that is to stop the rubbish flying around causing damage during takeoff and landing. 

I also had to use the facilities on this train, and once again was impressed.  Most toilet facilities on trains are drab and grey and generally rather dirty.  Not this one.  There were murals around the walls giving the impression one was in a real bathroom with a window.  All the surfaces were clean, and I had the feeling they had recently been wiped over.

I have written to airline managements suggesting on ‘long haul flights’ they carry a cleaner to keep the toilets clean instead of expecting the stewards to do the job, and after seeing the inside of this toilet on the Swiss train, I can see what a difference it would make if the small room was given a bright interior and had a special person on board keeping the toilets in a pristine condition. 

Surely the addition of a cleaner on a flight would save money in the long run.  Hygiene standards on planes would improve and the aroma emanating from the room would be so much purer. 

If the Swiss can do it on trains, clearly any mode of transport that travels long distances can keep its cleaning standards high by having a dedicated cleaner on board. 



Sometimes smokers don't think

by Julie Finch-Scally

Opposite where I am staying is a building which has a large gutter above a set of shops. This gutter acts similar to an awning.  Although not very wide it works well. The gutter still stops the rain dropping on people staring in through the windows, or entering the shops.

On a floor above the shops there is a guy who I quite often see leaning out of his window while he smokes.  Obviously not allowed to smoke inside the building, and it being an apartment, he smokes outside by placing his head outside the window.

The other day I happened to look down on the awning/gutter of the building and noticed two piles of cigarette butts sitting in the dip.  Not something that would be seen from the street, but definitely from windows of the building of those living and working opposite.

I would think the smoker in the building opposite would have believed his cigarette butts, when dropped out of the window, would end up on the road and be collected by the sweep cleaner which regularly patrols the street. As I have observed this has not been the case.

Since the introduction of banning cigarette smoking inside buildings, more and more cigarette disposal bins are appearing on city streets.  This is saving the butts littering the footpath and keeping the city tidier.  But the sale of ashtrays seem to have declined.  Which means those people who smoke have nowhere to place their ash and butts inside their own properties.

When a large percentage of the population smoked, decorative ashtrays were items given as presents for birthdays and Christmas.  Now only second-hand stores and antique shops seem to sell them. 

I know we all blame the smoker for being thoughtless and in some cases this is true.  But as less and less people smoke, and society has realised the cost involved in keeping the inside of properties clean from cigarette smoke, the smoker has less areas where they can go to satisfy their need for a cigarette.  Yes the cigarette disposal bins along streets are helpful, but smaller containers attached to buildings nearer entrances could also assist. 

Maybe the ashtray should be brought back into fashion.  Once upon a time they made personal ashtrays with a lid. How about re-introducing those?  Then the smokers could carry their butts with them and empty them into the street disposal bins.


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