Do you ever stop to think about how much you consume in one day? Are the amounts of electricity and water you use necessary? Moving to Trujillo, Spain I realized how much I was carelessly using in a single day in the United States. I recycled cans, paper and plastic and considered it my good deed to the planet. But I often took long showers, ran several loads of laundry in the washer and dryer, left on multiple lights and the television all day long without thinking twice. During my first week in Trujillo, my host-mother Maria taught me a different way of living using the bare necessities.
It is vital that I remember to turn off the lights as I leave one room and enter another. This counts for the hallways as well. During the day absolutely no lights are used because the natural light is sufficient. Everything is recycled in different containers, and the trashcan is a mere plastic bag for food waste. I constantly make sure I am using the bare minimum, turning off the water as I brush my teeth or washing plates. Showering, once a long process using warm water for however long I saw fit, is now an under five minute or freeze your butt off practice. Laundry is another interesting task. Forget separating colors, all clothes are washed together in a single load. After the clothes are properly washed, Maria and I hang them with pegs on a clothesline outside the window. Maria’s house does not have air conditioning or heat, something I once considered a bare necessity. During the blazing hot summer the natural breezes through open windows kept me sane. During the cold winter days a “brasero,” or a circular heater placed under the living room table is used to keep feet warm as we eat meals and relax.
It is amazing how I once believed there was absolutely no way I could live without more amenities. I now know I can be a less harmful addition to the world by using the environmental facilities given to us by Mother Nature. Natural sunlight can brighten your home and a simple breeze can dry clothes and keep you cool. The simple lessons I’ve learned while living in Trujillo, Spain I will carry with me home.