The Line for the Women's Bathroom Is Always Notoriously Long. It Doesn't Have to Be That Way

iStock.com/justhavealook
iStock.com/justhavealook

Like small pockets and unnecessarily expensive razors, long women's bathroom lines seem to be an annoying yet inevitable part of the female experience. But what if it didn't have to be that way? What if women could waltz into any restroom and find an open stall waiting for them? According to The Atlantic, the issue could be fixed once and for all by a seemingly simple measure: installing more toilets in women's bathrooms.

Historically, public restrooms have been designed with men in mind. Up until the Victorian era, bathrooms were male-only spaces because it was believed that men were the only ones who had any business being out in public. If women happened to be out and about and needed to pee, they had to crouch over a gutter or use a device called a urinette (kind of like a 19th-century Shewee).

With that said, the debate surrounding "potty parity" is fairly recent. After witnessing how long his wife and daughter had to wait in line for the bathroom at a Tchaikovsky concert in 1987, a state senator from California introduced legislation to provide women with more toilets. For the first time, the fact that women simply take longer on the toilet—partly because they have to enter a stall and sit down, but also because they have periods—was publicly addressed. The law passed, and it stipulated that new buildings have at least 50 percent more bathroom stalls for women than for men. Large cities like New York City and Chicago and at least 21 states passed similar laws in the years following.

So why are long women's bathroom lines still a problem? For one, the laws don't apply to bathrooms that existed prior to the legislation passing. There's also an extra cost associated with installing more toilets than plumbing codes require—something many developers aren't willing to take on. One way of circumventing the problem is by installing more gender-neutral toilets, but these tend to spark fierce debate in the public and political spheres.

Some have gotten creative. Bathrooms at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, have changeable signs that let men's bathrooms be converted into women's bathrooms depending on the sex ratio of the crowd on any given night. As The Atlantic points out, there are plenty of possible fixes to the problem, if only the developers and public opinion would allow them.

[h/t The Atlantic]

Want to Repurpose Old or Damaged Books? Turn Them Into DIY Wall Art

Svitlana Unuchko/iStock via Getty Images
Svitlana Unuchko/iStock via Getty Images

Many bibliophiles see their books as more than just reading material. Whether they're color-coded, stored backwards, or stacked around the house in teetering piles, books can double as decorations that add coziness and character to a space. This interior design trend spotted by Today pushes this concept to new heights by transforming old books into pieces of sprawling wall art.

Erin Kern, the Oklahoma designer behind the blog Cotton Stem, first had the idea to make books into DIY art in 2015. Her concept works with any books you have at home that you can bear to part with. Just grab a staple gun, secure the book covers to the wall you wish to embellish, and then use staples, glue, or tape to arrange the pages of the book however you like them. You can keep the book open to your favorite page or use some clever craft work to make the pages look like they're frozen mid-flip. As you expand the piece, you can add single pages or pages without their covers to vary the design.

Kern and other designers who've created their own versions of the project often combine old books with other types of wall decor. You can nestle framed prints of literary quotes or tuck air plants among the pages. Ana Ochoa of the blog Fiddle Leaf Interiors used hanging books as a makeshift canvas for a larger-than-life painting.

If seeing books stapled to a wall makes you cringe, rest assured that no one is suggesting you buy brand-new books to use as your crafting materials. This project is a great way to repurpose old books you never plan to read again—especially books with tears and missing pages that are too damaged to donate.

Looking for more literary design inspiration? Check out these pieces of furniture made out of books.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Soulla Christodoulou PGCE MA (@soullasays) on

[h/t Today]

Who Invented the Cardboard Box?

Feverpitched/iStock via Getty Images
Feverpitched/iStock via Getty Images

Few inventions have blended as seamlessly into our daily living routines as the humble cardboard box. We get excited to see piles of them near our front door. We stuff them with papers. Our cats love to claim them as their private living rooms. Yet we rarely stop to consider how much more convenient they are than a burlap sack. Who do we credit for this marvel of simple but indispensable ingenuity?

In the 1st and 2nd century BCE, the Han Dynasty of China was busy pioneering the use of paper. During the same era, sheets of bark from the Mulberry tree were used to wrap and protect food, one of the earliest examples of a sturdy, wood-based product being repurposed for packaging. But what we’d come to recognize as the earliest form of the cardboard box as we know it today didn’t appear until the early 19th century, with the 1817 German board game The Game of Besieging being the oldest example. Throughout the 19th century, companies began using the boxes as a means of storage and transport for cereals and even for moth eggs used by silk manufacturers.

But an additional twist—or pleat—was needed in order to turn these carriers into the cubical wonders we know today. In 1856, top hat peddlers Edward Allen and Edward Healey used a stiffer paper made with a fluted sheet in the middle of two layers to provide stability and warmth to the lining: It was a precursor to corrugated cardboard.

The real breakthrough, however, came in 1879. It was then that Robert Gair, owner of a Brooklyn paper factory, figured out that he could both score a single sheet of cardboard and then have his printing press cut it at the same time, eliminating laborious hand-cutting. When the flat pieces were folded together, the cardboard box as we know it was born.

Gair sold consumer product companies on this handy new form of storage, eventually scoring a 2-million-piece order from the cracker czars at Nabisco. Snack foods could now travel without the danger of being crushed, and, pretty soon, the cardboard box was migrating from kitchen cupboards to anywhere a cheap, effective form of packaging was needed. In the 1930s, the Finnish government even adopted the boxes as part of a take-home maternity package for new mothers who may not have been able to afford cribs. Babies took their first naps in the confines of the mattress-lined box—a practice that continues today.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER