An Answer to the Wasteful Situation

 

  5/21/23

Today we went to get groceries. The closest place to get groceries is over an hour away. I hopped in the car because I needed to use the internet. We no longer get access to service a bicycle ride away, we used all 14 GBs of the hotspot in one day, I guess we weren’t managing that common pool resource well enough…  Now, I must go all the way into the closest town (an hour and a half away) to make a call on my phone. It is difficult to be without service, I miss my family I wish I could write you all the time.

We need to create an outhouse because the toilet is using up to twenty gallons a day! We are only flushing when we have solid waste and we still do not have enough grey water (water recycled from everything else) to flush all the solid waste. Although this country has about crashed, its wasteful infrastructure is still mostly intact so even though we are only drinking and washing minimally, it really doesn’t matter when it takes two gallons to flush, more than we use to cook, drink and wash combined. While we have chosen to use grey water for flushing, the original American sewer system uses drinking water! So up until around 2020, while the rest of the world was struggling to have water to drink, let alone wash, the United States was shitting on almost two gallons of drinking water every time they flushed! The difficult part is for poor Americans that live within this system, that do not own their housing, were forced by the infrastructure to waste ten to twenty gallons of water a day with or without their consent. There is so much waste built into the infrastructure of Western countries, for example even though our diet is mainly produce and beans, our trash cans are full of plastic and food waste. All of this was getting annoying to me, I did not come to America to be a part of the problem, but being here makes me complicit in it all. We needed to come up with solutions to address the waste we are creating on this already wasted land, but how? The easiest was the compost, we started collecting our food waste on the trip out to the grocery store today. We will collect it in a 5-gallon bucket and keep a lid on it.

I think being so far out from civilization and seeing the waste we are creating is starting to bother everyone. How could we use all the plastic bottles that are littered across the land, and the plastic bags we are using. I started thinking about my friend Barny from India, how she use to create Earthships. Earthships are a type of building, where you use recycled materials and make a self-sustaining building that gathers the rainwater and then uses it for the house, they usually use daylighting and solar energy as well. While I could not do this whole idea, I wanted to find out how I could make walls out of recycled materials. I was thinking that we could use the plastic water bottles and fill them with plastic or sand. When we got into town I started googling them, turns out they use cement. I was confused, how could it be sustainable when it uses cement? I didn’t have the money to buy cement and I didn’t want to leave something so permanent.

I sat down with BCC: about the idea afterward, and she told me about rammed earth, a method that uses more sand than clay mixed with a little water to build cement-like material that is made of only earth and water. This is perfect, and goes along with our hope of reducing the impact to the land and best of all this method would reduce the waste already on the land. I am not sure it is going to work out. I brought a sketch to BCC:, I have not been trained in art so a scribble would be a more accurate description. BCC: came back with a beautiful sketch and an elaborate idea. We are going to incorporate tires and the other metal scraps that lay around in the area.

I got excited and started working on a few pieces. First I built a plastic brick using plastic waste and a plastic water bottle. You would be surprised how many plastic bags fit into a plastic water bottle, I did not count but I had a whole bag full of plastic bags and they all fit into one plastic bottle. Then I started building the sink and waste basket, and starting to dig the hole. The earth is very hard and I basically have to ram the shovel into the ground repeatedly until the rocks start to move. I did this for about 15 minutes and I got three inches down, I need at least 3 feet deep though, at least deeper than the wooden hole support I built. After being out in this direct sunlight for an hour, my face felt swollen and burnt even though I had on SPF 45 and I have African melanin, which is supposed to be the strongest, so I don’t know how these Anglos are outside. The desert is intense, I left early unable to finish. However, at dinnertime when we checked in, we told the whole group of women about the project. People have offered to take shifts in the morning and night to help get this done. I am excited to work with the group on this project.

2017-05-22T07:45:21+00:00

6 Comments

  1. Central Blue May 22, 2017 at 3:53 am

    Building an outhouse? The deeper the better really. You really don’t want to skimp on the hole if you’re going to the trouble of building a nice privy like the one in the drawing. How close do you really want to be to the stuff you are adding? BTW: Hook worms can travel four feet. Tape worms can travel six feet.

    Also suggest you think seriously about something like wood ashes or agricultural quick-lime to dust your contributions or you’ll be back to the flusher in no time.

    • Nayara May 22, 2017 at 8:24 am

      Thanks for the information, worms jumping up six feet is certainly something we will have to consider.

  2. Central Blue May 23, 2017 at 3:57 am

    I guess you think I am yanking your chain.They don’t jump. They just crawl patiently. Might not be a problem for your group now since you will likely be wearing shoes in that heat. But when you build an outhouse you have to think about those that come after.

  3. Renaissance May 25, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Clever. And I never knew that about the worms, I did not know they could jump and especially not nobody’s six feet. Scary.

    I think you all have a lot of good ideas. I will look up “Liters of Light” to see if I can get their method of creating light sources out of things you can find around you. If I get it, I will share.

    The old clay, mixed with a little water and heated has been used to build structures in ancient times, many of which are still standing and functioning today and will most likely outlive many of the building that are being built right now. The ground from the area the structure is built, without any extra chemicals and you have a sustainable and eco-friendly building material.

    Yes, living within one’s means does mean that there is more manual labor and life will have to slow down as a result of that labor. However, I do not think the speed at which things are being produced or how fast we are expected to move over the distances that we have to migrate daily to survive in this system is helpful to anyone.

    keep up the good work. I will report back about “Liters of Light.”

  4. Renaissance May 25, 2017 at 1:44 am

    Here is a video of the “Liter of Light”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5YQ4t5apPM

    Essentially, the majority of the instructions are about how to set the bottle up to be placed as a component structure of the roof. This will have to be amended depending on the materials that the structure is built with. The most important things are that the resource that creates or amplifies the light is “water.” However, you will also need 10 ml of bleach for each bottle (1.5 or 2 liter bottle), which comes out to about 4 of the bottle’s cap-fulls. The bleach is to prevent the growth of algae. In addition to that, the other most important part will be that you need an extra piece of plastic tube to be glued over the cap of the bottle after the bottle is filled. This will protect the bottle cap that seals the water in from sun damage. Also, after filling the bottle put glue on the threads prior to screwing the cap on to create a vapor seal to prevent seepage and spilling. Then glue the second cap on top of that. All that will remain is to set it in the roof with the cap facing upwards and you will have light amplified in a closed structure.

    Depending on the materials, you will most likely want to have a hammer or something to bang with. You will also want something hard and sharp like a chisel or sturdy knife that can both withstand being struck and will cut through a thin metal sheet. You will want a metal sheet or something strong enough to hold a 2 liter bottle full of water. If the video will not play for you all, I can see what I can do about drawing a picture. However, for now I will attempt to describe it to you. Two circles will be made on the thin metal sheet (or equivalent and available material) the first will be 2 mm less in diameter than the bottle that will be filled with water, the second will be the diameter of the bottle. Cut out the the first and discard the scrap for later use on another project or as a stencil. Around the inner circumference of the the remaining circle in the metal sheet, about 2 mm apart, you will cut to make strips about 2 mm in length. These strips you will bend to about 45 degrees to hold the bottle in place. Glue will be necessary at this point. The metal sheet (or equivalent) will be placed half-way down the bottle, so at the half-way point you will place glue around the circumference after sanding or scratching the bottle to remove all smooth surface where the glue will be applied. Then fit the sheet over the glue to fill in the gaps between the bottle and the sheet. Then put glue or on both the top and bottom of the sheet and seal the bottle to it; approx. 2 in on each side.

    All that will be left is to set it into the roof of whatever structure you want. Make sure that the slats or shingles are set to ensure that the water will flow over and not into the hole the bottle creates and that the water, if it rains, will drain off the roof where you want it to.

    I know 2 liters of water is a lot when you only have four to live on per day. But if you all pooled your resources and saved a bit each day from everyone, then in a few days you will have collectively saved enough.

    I hope this is helpful and that it is something that is useful if you should have a need for light.

    • Nayara May 25, 2017 at 8:08 am

      Thank you for this information, it is very helpful to have it written out since we have limited internet. We will get back to you if we carry this out.

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