Thursday, July 7, 2011

Not quite used to modern conveniences, and hand-washing of dishes

I've said this several times since returning to the USA from RSA, but I'll say it again:   I still get tripped out about the washing machine, electric clothes dryer, and the dishwasher.  So much of my time in rural South Africa was spent cleaning.  I do not have an OCD, nor would I classify myself as a "clean freak," but I do like to keep my living quarters tidy and sanitary. When I say, so much of my time was spent cleaning, I don't mean because I wanted my house spotless, but because of the water issue.

Water is scarce in many parts of the world, particularly in the Kalahari desert, where I lived from September 2009-November 2010, and from January 2011-May 2011.  Just procuring and treating drinking water consumed a large quantity of time.  Factor in water for bathing, cleaning and washing, and you have a lot of your day consumed by the generic term, "cleaning."  For one person, each time I washed clothes, I probably used 40 litres of water.  For cleaning my dishes each day, I probably used 2-3.  Bathing can be estimated at 5 litres per bath.  Laundry day started early in the summer months, because hauling water is quite the chore and you wanted to get that out of the way before it became too hot.  Then you also wanted to wash before the heat of the day set in, because it's definitely a workout to hand wash clothes in buckets and pails.  Then drying was easy, because you just used your pegs (clothes pins) and hung them out on the line, and in the dry Kalahari, would be dry in a matter of 2 hours or less in summertime. During winter, you wait until the sun comes out so you don't freeze your ass and fingers off before plunging them into the water, and sometimes you heat the water first.  This also takes time.

Lest I belabor the point and render it completely useless, doing laundry in the USA consists of piling your dirties into a box, pouring soap on top, turning a dial and pushing a button.  Then you walk away.  Well, possibly loading coins or tokens at a laundromat.  ??????  No traipsing down to the village tap, lugging litres of water back to your house, swishing said water with super strong washing powder, and getting your daily arm workout?  I'm still finding the whole process to be very convenient, indulgent and wasteful, all at the same time.

I haven't had the same issue with dishwashing, however, because I never used a dishwasher in the USA.  I spent most of my adult life living in places that did not have a dishwashing machine.  I was happy being the dishwasher. I would (and still do) fill a large bowl or basin with hot water, add some liquid dish soap, get my dirty dishes, and start scrubbing.  Once they are sufficiently cleaned, I turn on the tap and rinse.  Pretty simple task, I believe children often perform this same task around the world, and perform well.  You wouldn't know it though, according to some people, who always ask me, "why don't you just use the dishwasher?"  I'll tell you why.  I find it preposterous that, in order to load dishes into a machine which is supposed to clean and rinse dishes, that they must be washed first in the sink.  I refuse to use such an inefficient machine. Machines, especially ones which use valuable energy, ought to make it worth their energy consumption by performing a task that is so difficult for me to do, or so disgusting, that I choose not to do it myself.  But, when I can outperform the machine, why waste the time and money?  I just don't get it.

As wasteful as it might be, I am very thankful for the automated washing machine at this point in my life, because in a few months, I will be using it all the time.  Babies make a lot of waste, it's easy to catch the waste in cloth, then you must wash it and dry it before it can be used all over again.  So let's hope all my years of conserving everything, including water, can make up for my future of mechanized cleaning.

1 comment:

  1. remember ginger? her house burnt because of those decorative ball things people put in their yard for decorations. she had some on her deck and they think the sun was magnified via the ball and poof.
    anyway, the sun will dry all that stuff so that;s good. anyway, an acquaintance;s house burnt the other day too, cause: clothes dryer. so use your washer, it'll be ok.