Greener World: Azerbaijan

Though Azerbaijan’s economic worry is said to be decreasing due to “Western investment in Azerbaijan’s oil resources, an untapped reserve whose estimate worth is trillions of dollars” (Info Please, 2012) any word on their environmental development is slow to be noted. Even still, this small country along the Caspian Sea can teach us a thing or two about being environmentally cautious. As written by an American woman spending time volunteering in Azerbaijan, the following are some tips every person should take into consideration when trying to think of the environment.

  1. Unplug electronics when not in use. Most homes in Azerbaijan only have one electrical outlet per room so it is understandable to see how one could become more energy aware when in Azerbaijan. When the locals of this country are finished watching TV they will generally unplug it as even if it is not turned on, electricity still surges through the cord. Some even unplug their fridges during the winter months when it is so cold there is no need to use the excess technology.
  2. Don’t use lights during daylight hours. Most people in Azerbaijan will only put their lights on when it is necessary. Energy can be even further cut down as the country regularly experiences blackouts with the electricity so many locals are accustomed to not relying on things such as lights.
  3. Reuse everything possible until it’s completely worn down. Whether its clothes, jars, shopping bags or socks, nothing gets tossed until it’s used to the full extent. Clothes are expensive so they are worn for years and mended and reused or passed onto others. Bottles and glass jars are reused again as storage containers for objects or other food leftovers. Everything has a purpose which saves on money, time and energy – not to mention the environment.
  4. Don’t waste food. Leftovers are always eaten. Period. When you live off so little and cooking takes so much time, it makes sense that someone will eat all of it. And if the bread is getting a little old? At least it can become food for the animals.
  5. Be conscious of water use. As showers only occur once a week in the cold months and the hot months can cause a person to go without for weeks at a time, the local Azerbaijan people are very careful about how much water they use. There is no flushing of the toilets, no dishwashers and no washing machines. Every drop of precious liquid has its purpose.
  6. Carpool. Or – as it is known in Azerbaijan – “marshutka” – people-packing. As uncomfortable as it can be for a foreigner to get used to, it is only logical to travel with as many people as possible in a vehicle rather than having multiple SUVs barrelling down the road with only a single driver in each car, wasting all sorts of gas.

Paraphrased from Lost in Azerbaijan

So maybe Azerbaijan is a little behind the times on a few things. Maybe the local people survive in an environment that many Westernized people wouldn’t dream of living in. Maybe they go without things that some may deem as necessary. But that doesn’t mean that we all can’t learn a thing or two about the country seemingly known only for its untapped oil resource. Sometimes the ones with the biggest influence are the little people everyone forgets about. Sometimes the biggest ideas can come from the smallest voice. Sometimes countries like Azerbaijan may have a thing or two figured out that the rest of us can learn from. Sometimes we all need to stop and go back to the simplest way of thinking. The way we thought as a child – because the reality about being environmentally friendly is just that – it’s basic. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.



Info Please. (2012). Azerbaijan. Retrieved March 6, 2012, from Info Please:

Sara. (2010, April 29). Lost in Azerbaijan. Retrieved March 6, 2012, from Blogger:

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