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.