The New Oil

I don’t know enough about it to really back this up with too much, but I strongly believe that water is the new oil. By this I mean it’s a vital, yet increasingly scarce resource that people take for granted.

While I was living with my host family last year, we had Al-Jazeera English on the satellite and they had this little blurb about how much water the average citizen of various countries use and I was shocked to learn that for Americans, the number is something like 230 litres a day, while the average Indian uses about three.

Here in Azerbaijan, my water consumption has gone way down. It fluctuates at various times, but with no dishwasher or shower, the amount of water I’m using is only a fraction of the average American. And now, since my pipes have broken from the big snow storm, I can’t get water in my house at the moment. This has meant a huge change in my water-consuming lifestyle.

If I were to guess, I’d say I’m using about a gallon of water a day. I go out to the yard and fill up a little bucket and use that here and there for various daily tasks. Dishes (after being used several times) are done with a minimal amount of water and rinsed as efficiently as possible (which is amazingly tedious). Brushing me teeth involves one cup water. As for showering, well… what exactly is that? I’m down to a bucket bath (about two gallons of water) about once a week. I haven’t washed my clothes in a really, really long time.

So what does this all mean? I imagine myself being back in America being completely shocked every time I turn on the faucet. Putting my clothes in a washing machine is going to feel like I’ve found a secret treasure. And flushing a toilet? Fuggedaboudit.

The interesting thing about this change in lifestyle is that adjusting isn’t that hard. I don’t think I’m any more easy going than most other people, but I’d say that humans simply adapt, and it comes more naturally than most people would assume. I’m just going with the flow.

Yet this same adjustment to my surroundings will happen when I finish here and return to the U.S., so even though I might be in disbelief to see hot water come out of the tap, I’ll be damn sure to use it and most likely, use it frequently. So even though I doubt that this experience of water-reduction is going to have a huge impact on my water consumption over the span of my lifetime, I’d like to think that this experience that I’m going through right now will at least make me appreciate the luxury of having water on demand.

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2 responses to “The New Oil

  1. Yes yes yes!! It will drive you crazy when you come home. People will be talking to you while they run a spoon under hot water for ten seconds and then stick it in the dishwasher. Then three months later you’re likely to be doing the same thing…. I lived in Mongolia for a while and I experienced that when I came back!
    Came across your blog in a google alert email I get. (and btw I think I’ll be leaving for the Peace Corps in about 6 months… good luck with the rest of your time- the last 3 or 4 months will fly by)

  2. you forgot to mention your water was frozen and then the pipes burst. I think that is a vital piece of the story.

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