Dakotah Manson is a student at Allegheny College and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying with ISA in Amman, Jordan.
Growing up in a New England town meant being surrounded by an abundance of lakes, ponds, and rivers. It was common to spend the 4th of July out on a boat or escape a hot summer day in your next door neighbor’s pool. Having access to what seemed like a never ending amount of water, it never really occurred to me how much water I would waste on a daily basis. That was until I started living in Amman, Jordan.
This beautiful country is home to almost 6.5 million people. It’s also one of the driest countries in the world. In the city of Amman, each apartment has it’s own water tank that is refilled once every week. This means my roommates and I have to be incredibly self aware of the ways we use our water. The average shower lasts about five minutes with a maximum of ten. We can only wash our clothes when the tank is opened and the water is being refilled, otherwise we have a higher chance of emptying the tank before the week is over and nobody wants to be the one to tap into the extra tank. It also means keeping the water off while washing dishes until I need to rinse the suds off. At home it was common for people to leave the water running the entire time they were scrubbing, rinsing, and switching dishes. Either that or we would run the dishwasher, but here that would be a nightmare because of the amount of water used in just one wash.
Being in Amman also means I don’t have access to a car and therefore I’m not buying and wasting gas. My apartment is approximately 2 miles away from the University of Jordan and I walk to and from class every day, and anywhere else within a 3-4 mile distance of my apartment. If I do take a taxi there are at least 2-3 other people with me. That’s 4 people who could be driving cars! Walking everywhere has become a norm in my everyday life which is not only healthy, but good for the environment!
Electricity is another area I’ve improved in tremendously! Electricity is available, but it comes at a higher price when being careless about it. Lights are never left on in rooms we are not in and we make sure everything is turned off whenever we leave. We also have individual air conditioners in each room instead of central air. They will occasionally be turned on for 30 minutes to cool our bedrooms or living area down because even though it’s almost the beginning of October it’s still in the mid 80’s here. At night we open our windows to let in a cool breeze, it’s hot during the day, but drops into the 60’s at night!
Now I don’t want anyone to think I was careless about water and electricity back in the States, but it’s definitely an area many people don’t think about on a daily basis. Did you know that the U.S. footprint for water is 2x the global average?! I’m proud to think that the habits I’m becoming aware of and learning here will make an impact, even if it’s a tiny one. Imagine if we were all aware of our water consumption and the little things we can do to improve it!
The world awaits…discover it.