People who take running water for granted  

use an average of 100 gallons per day

to accomplish the same tasks

that people who carry water achieve with 10 gallons.


For most of us, “carrying water” is synonymous with poverty and exploitation. If you carry water, you have none in your home. If you carry water, you have to walk miles, possibly barefoot. If you carry water, you can’t go to school. If you carry water, you are destitute.

But perhaps what yellow plastic water buckets really symbolize is respect. If you carry water, you use it carefully. Every drop is precious. You take care not to waste a single drop.

Could the kitchen faucet symbolize disrespect?  We turn on a faucet and water gushes out. It runs and runs and runs, while we move away and tackle another task. Because water shows up every time want it, we don’t treat it as precious at all.

Correction. We think it’s precious for other people, so we raise money for things like the ELCA World Hunger 100 Wells Challenge, and get excited when new wells are dedicated. But there’s no Challenge to our own attitudes and water use. Notice (my apologies, colleagues) that the “global water crisis” described on our web site happens someplace else.

If the accompaniment model calls us to mutual mission, shouldn’t our behaviors be part of water ministry? Shouldn’t we be creating an ELCA World Hunger 100 Gallon Challenge focused on us? Couldn’t we be installing water meters on our sinks and showers so we can see our water use in real time? Or plunking yellow water buckets on the counter, so that our companions’ reverence might convince us to turn off the tap?

What—and how—can we learn from the water carriers?

Anne Basye, Sustaining Simplicity