Monday, October 10, 2011

Guilt Trip

My sister and I have an ongoing conversation about why "it is so hard for some countries to have hot water." The technology and water are available, so why are so many people suffering in cold showers? If you've traveled enough you know the answer is energy and limited access to it. Also, that in the poorer countries, they just have other problems to deal with before tackling levels of comfort.

After experiencing true poverty I have a hard time coming home and accepting all the blessings and conveniences around me. I've been through this guilt trip before (in great depth after going to Haiti). I find myself determined to not take advantage of all the simplicities and comforts around me, and to really be a minimalist, living a truly earthy existence. But I have a confession, having just spent 4 weeks in a country with no hot water, I'm really, really enjoying hot showers again. Of course, every time I take a hot shower I feel a little bit guilty about it for about 1 minute. I get over it quickly. Rain shower heads help. 

While I was gone we got a new refrigerator in the new house. I find myself staring at it and contemplating all of its ridiculous functions. And I have come to an important conclusion (only slightly said tongue-in-cheek)- technology hasn't been made easier or simpler or even more advanced so as to be adapted more effectively in poorer countries, because the major manufacturers who could be spending their time improving technologies for the developing world are too busy making ridiculous refrigerators. Seriously people, our new refrigerator has an internal alarm system. If the door is left open too long a buzzer goes off. You can even set controls so it remembers who you are and dispenses filtered water at just the temperature you like it. 

And just think, last week I was proud of myself for figuring out that if you take a shower in the evening, the water was warmer after having been heated by the sun all day. Also, I had finally mastered how to flush a "dry" toilet. (Note: use a bucket of water, NOT the hose.) 

Did you know the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is currently hosting a competition of sorts to encourage inventors and scientists to reinvent the toilet? It may sound silly at first, but once you study this subject, you'll learn this is a pretty big deal. I'd love to be a part of this sort of cause. Granted, I'm no scientist or inventor, but I'd love to do my part from the marketing communications side of things. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is I want to be a part of something important. It is hard to sit here with all of the conveniences and comforts of a good life and feel like I'm not doing anything to make the world a better place. Sure, I'm going to enjoy another glass of perfectly cooled water from an over the top refrigerator tonight. But I'm also going to sit around wondering why the good folks at GE couldn't spend a little bit more time making hot water heaters more affordable and efficient. And then wonder why I deserve to live in a country with rain water shower heads...

1 comment:

  1. Are you familiar with Design for the Other 90%?

    They work to make feasible designs that are practical and affordable for those in developing nations. Really fascinating work.


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