Sunday, February 28, 2010

Look At This...

I was looking for some interesting videos about water conservation to show my class, when I came upon this short video by GOOD. The video is 2.5 minutes long, which seems like a very short period of time for me. However, as I watched the video and read the numbers about how many people die every minute from diseases caused by unclean water, I realized that in the time that I watched the video, two people in India had died, and one was halfway there; ten people across the world had died from unclean water!

What I found extremely interesting, though, was the fact that in the US, the average person uses about 400 liters (105 gallons) of water a day! And in the country of Mozambique, Africa, the average person uses 5 liters (1.3 gallons) a day. The reason why I found this so interesting is because about 10 years ago, I lived in Mozambique as an "average" person. I was doing volunteer work teaching in a village school, and my husband and I shared a tiny 2-room hut that had no electricity or running water. When I tell people this, they usually ask me if it was difficult to live in such a different way, but the answer is: not really. Yes, it took some getting used to, but once we finally figured out how everything worked, it became quite easy to adapt. When I think back, I am amazed at how little water we actually used! Here is what our daily life was like:

* We had a large, ceramic container (like an over-sized bathtub) in our yard that we filled with water when it rained. It rained quite a bit, so we were usually able to fill the whole thing up within just a few days. This was the water that we used for everything.

* Instead of an indoor bathroom, we had a pit latrine in the back of the house. This was basically a deep hole in the ground with a cement seat over it, and some reed walls around it. With no flushing toilet, we didn't use any water.

* For drinking water, we just took water from the rain container and boiled it. We did not drink any bottled water, unless it was an emergency.

* For showering, we took what is called a "bucket bath". We would fill up a regular-sized bucket of water, dump a bunch over ourselves using a big cup, lather up with soap and shampoo, and the rinse off by dumping more water over ourselves with the cup. Surprisingly, one bucket of water was usually more than enough to get very clean, which made us realize how much water is really wasted by showering.

* To do laundry, we had the local woman who worked for us take our clothes to a water pump/washing area where most of the village women would gather and wash clothes together. She would fill a big tub with water from the pump and use that to wash all of our clothes. Then she would fill another, smaller tub and rinse the clothes.

* We had very few dishes, so washing them just required very little water. If there was food stuck on something, we used sand to scrub it off, then rinsed with soap and water.

* When brushing our teeth, we used only a little bit of water. First, we poured a little on our brushes in order to get them wet, brushed, and then used a little more water to rinse off our brushes and swish around in our mouths.

Do I think that everyone should resort to this way of living in order to save water? Well, no, I know that is not realistic...however, I think that I need to remember how simple it was to give up some of my comforts and luxuries without really being bothered by the sacrifices.

Which of these things do you think would be the hardest to adapt to? Do you think that you get used to a lifestyle like this?


  1. I haven't seen those videos, but I will be sure to check them out. Thanks for the info, Monika!

  2. I thought this video was very straight forward and it showed how water is needed and how we need it to survive, also that if we waste water we are hurting our environment. And it showed me how we shouldn't waste water, I really liked it and it was something to learn from.

  3. Thanks, Stefano! I am so happy that you liked it, and that you got some interesting new information out of it! It's always a worthwhile thing to learn something new, even if it is just from a short, 2-minute video...

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