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Signs of the Games: Potty Talk

Honestly, I did about a quintuple take the first time I closed one of the stalls inside a media center bathroom. I wasn't sure I understood what I was being asked to do therein. I'm still not sure I do.

But--and not to get too graphic--a quick glance inside the dustbin seemed to indicate that we media members were being asked to do something with our, shall I say, "soiled" toilet paper that one normally does not do with said product in America.

What I really should have done was stond vigil outside the bathrooms--along with the relentlessly friendly bathroom attendants, whose sole job is to say hello as you enter their domain--and gotten insta-react from Bob Ryan, Art Thiel, Adrian Wojnarowski, Pat Forde, Jim Capel, Thomas Boswell, Rick Maese and all the other male print media celebrities I've seen in the past few days. (I haven't asked any female co-workers about the inside of their stalls, and I probably won't.)

Instead, I took a photo of the sign and began walking out of the bathroom, where I saw this curious sight. One of these bins pictured below, I should tell you, is clearly marked "Recyclable." Its companion is marked "Other Waste." Kinda hard to tell them apart, right? These dual bins are in every bathroom, and in every one the scene is the same: they are impossible to distinguish. Go ahead and guess which is which, and find the answer after the jump.

[UPDATE: Sorry for the confusion, this last part was meant to point out that there's no real recycling. But these aren't toilet paper bins, these are paper towel bins. The toilet paper bins might be nasty, but they're not labeled recyclables, and I didn't take any photos.]

Soiled paper towels in one, soiled paper towels in the other.

(Though honestly, the best media center bathroom sight I've seen thus far involved a man washing his feet in the sink. Sadly, I didn't have my camera with me, so instead I just stared. America is likely not a gold-medal favorite in foot cleanliness.)

Also, after our group lunch on Sunday, we were virtually ordered to dump our dirty plates and leftover food into the "Recyclable" bucket in the dining area. One person tried to walk over to the "Other Waste" bin, and was guided back toward "Recyclable."

"Poor Recycling Habits" is probably pretty far down on the list of things to protest over this month, but it seems pretty clear to me that not one plastic Olympic bottle will be recycled in Beijing.

And the answer is...the one with the dirty cup was recyclable!

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 7, 2008; 7:19 AM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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Dan. Seriously. There are some things we just don't need to know! Do, forget it.

Posted by: Greg Stambaugh | August 7, 2008 7:30 AM | Report abuse

I think we're all pretty familiar with the recycling logo, but the "other waste" one is new to me. Two arrows, at both ends of a line which forms a shape (a tree? a big arrow pointing up?), both pointing down... to what?

Ah, China!

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | August 7, 2008 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Why is Pat Forde in Beijing? I didn't know they had college football abroad.

Jay Mariotti though is very familiar with these stalls. But instead of throwing his soilings in the trash he throws them onto paper and then publishes it.

Posted by: JDP | August 7, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

At least it wasn't a squat toilet. That's an experience I want to forget...

Posted by: PenguinSix | August 7, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Not while I'm trying to eat breakfast, please. Although the Google ad for the European market leader in retractable urinals is amusing.

Posted by: Bill Fitzgerald | August 7, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Gold medal to JDP.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The best advice I got before leaving on my first trip to China a dozen years ago was to learn to read two Chinese pictograms.

Emergency Exit and Men's Room.

Posted by: Former and Future China Visitor | August 7, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

This female has seen similar instructions in bathroom stalls in Brazil. The plumbing just isn't as good.

Posted by: Julia | August 7, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

So...... the Chinese are going overboard in recycling to make the western world think they actually are not polluters?

Posted by: Andrew | August 7, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

You could have least dropped a Mr. Hankey reference in here somewhere

Posted by: Rashad | August 7, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

wow... This is wrong on so many levels!

Posted by: Mike | August 7, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Make. It. Stop.

Posted by: Stalk Much? | August 7, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Dude, whenever I see paper that is made from recycled paper, I am going to wonder if it was made from recycled toilet paper. YUCK!!!

Posted by: Susan | August 7, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see Najeh Davenport has a future in Chinese recycling!

Posted by: nerditry | August 7, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Poor people are funny!

Posted by: Evan | August 7, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

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