When a resource crisis hits in developed countries, we begin to see how wasteful our behaviors are.
When gas prices in the United States and other countries soared over the summer months, we learned how to be more careful with our fuel in a very short period of time!
Suddenly we were driving less, doing it more slowly and checking the pressure in our tires for maximum efficiency. Scooters were leaving stores faster than they could stock them. Bikes were dusted off. We changed our behavior for the better.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stick. This time.
So what would it take to get Americans to change how they look at the water coming out of their tap?
In Australia, it took a severe drought to wake up the population. When push came to shove, people realized that they didn’t need as much water as they were using.
I’ve tried endlessly to figure out why people turn on their tap and then watch across the kitchen to get a dish to wash. Why people leave the water running while they wash their faces or brush their teeth. It can be so simple to save water if people think about what they are doing.
And then it hit me. People don’t realize that we are already in a crisis. Well, the fish are, at least. And that’s a pretty solid sign that we, too, will be. This crisis is silent in so many ways — you cant hear the fish scream, they aren’t all cute like the polar bears and the water just keeps pouring (and pouring and pouring…) out of the tap.
Americans use a ghastly amount of water in their homes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that each home uses 100 gallons day. That water does not magically come from the tap — it is pumped and pumped out of rivers, from underground and from lakes.
It’s time for some thoughtful behaviors to replace the glutinous ones. We can prevent a larger crisis by dealing with the current one.
So what will it take to get Americans to start taking shorter showers and waiting until the dishwasher is full before running it?
(Image: Dry riverbed in California. Credit: Jessica DeWinter through a Creative Commons license.)
Donate to The Nature Conservancy and give back to nature.