Saving the Earth

Monday, February 1, 2010

I distinctly remember a discussion in one of my university classes about cutting back on energy and water use to “save the earth.” The suggestions were good, but nothing too drastic or grand. It turns out that the non-university educated residents of rural Bolivia are way ahead of us on this.

El Carmen does have electricity, but it is only turned on for short periods during lunch and after dark. Aside from those times, no electricity is used whatsoever.


Water use is also minimal in El Carmen. Each home collects rainwater or brings water up from the river for their daily needs.

So what does this mean for life in El Carmen? Well, they have to be creative, smart, and industrious.

The majority of homes do not have refrigerators, so they use only fresh foods such as recently caught fish or chicken butchered on the spot. Sometimes ice is available to chill drinks or food, but for the most part, they just make do.

Cooking is done using a fire in the kitchen rather than an electric or gas stove.


Clothing is washed by hand using either the rainwater at home or right in the river. It’s common to see a few women spend the morning in the river washing clothes together.


Rainwater is also used for bathing. Some homes simply use buckets to bathe while others have showers set up. Mauricio’s grandma has a shower that pulls up rainwater from the tank. It is the only faucet in the entire home.


Toilets in El Carmen are just holes in the ground, using no water.


Living this way may not be as convenient or comfortable as life in more developed areas, but it’s still a very real possibility and certainly cuts down energy and water use.

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