Priviledged enough to take water for granted?
I’m being painfully literal when I say that I just had a watershed moment. Despite the fact that I take short showers, brush my teeth with the tap off and keep my laundry-doing to a minimum, I am still a water glutton. We all are.
Think of everything those molecules have to go through to become harmless. We are part of an elite few that can access this clean, processed water and take it thoroughly for granted. We stand under a shower head and soak ourselves in better water than most people drink. We turn a knob and let this precious resource free-flow while the less fortunate walk back and forth from contaminated rivers lugging buckets of liquid that would nauseate us. We think: “How is it wasting water if it just goes back into the lake anyway?” not thinking twice about the complex procedure (i.e. time, money, energy, natural resources) involved in making it safe.
Wasting water is a culturally acceptable form of voracity, one that is a little more complicated than it seems. For instance, personal day-to-day usage only accounts for about 3% of our “water footprint”. No, that wasn’t a typo, only %3. The vast majority of the water we suck up is inexorably tied to the choices we are making as consumers.
Some of the homework I’ve done on the topic has produced some counter-intuitive factoids—for instance, the average dishwasher uses less water than doing that same amount by hand. It’s generally more efficient to go to a car wash than to hose ‘er down in your driveway. The making of beer wastes less water than the making of coffee. The topic is pretty damn intriguing, to be frank.
Are you courageous enough to get to know your H20?
Go to this link and look for the podcast called “Virtual Water Use” that aired on CBC radio, 16/12/2008.
The information, staggering though it may be, is as vitally important as the resource it discusses. If you’re ready to dive in deeper, here’s another useful site.
You can also check out either of these two concise and alarming documentaries: Blue Gold (which I can vouch for because I recently rented it) and Flow (some overlap with Blue Gold, as evident in the preview, but recommended to me by people a hell of a lot smarter than I am).
Spend some time with this topic, seriously–then we can open the floodgates of critical discussion.