Make it a Water Recession
Water is big business. Just five beverage companies consume enough water over the course of a year to satisfy the daily water needs of every person on the planet. Of course, we may not be able to control how much water is put in a can of soda or a beer (less water, more alcohol, please) or the amount it takes to make paper, but we can control our own use at the workplace and even influence those who manage supplies.
It may not be our nickel that gets spent on the utility bill at work, but the gains are certainly ours when we reduce the corporate water footprint on the planet. Water prices are poised to rise due to increased water stress, and corporate growth is expected to be impeded as resources dwindle. Make no mistake, all of this comes out of our paychecks in one way or another.
Twenty percent of the worlds water supply goes to support industry. Thats twice as much as is used to support municipal supplies for our personal use. Sometimes we forget how many resources we use at the office itself. Many of us spend as much time at work as we do at home. Even if we aren't showering there, we can still use a lot of water throughout the day.
The average workday in the United States is 8.7 hours. We spend 1.1 hours a day drinking and eating, and up to 1.75 hours per week in the restroom (ladies spend just 1.4 hours). If we scale that back, per worker, by even a few cups per day on the front end and a few flushes on the back end, the savings would amount to more than 2 billion gallons of water. And that is about as much bottled water as Americans drink over the course of a whole year; profligate use, for sure.
Solutions abound in the workplace. Here are a few more for The Green Blue Book (www.thegreenbluebook.com):
- Use a glass or a mug instead of a paper cup at the water bubbler when you drink and gossip about last nights reality TV show episode. It takes more than 6 gallons of water to make just one of those tiny 3-ounce cups.
- How many times have you found that someone has left the faucet running in the restroom? Custodians report that it happens as often as 10 times per week. Thats 2 to 3 gallons wasted every minute. Im all for employees washing their hands before leaving the restroom, but they could turn off the faucets. Infrared sensors overpower mindlessness; these sensors can be adapted to any faucet and save as much as 70 percent of the water used in the typical hand washing.
- Ordering too much food at the office just creates massive waste. The water it takes to grow and make food is exponentially more than the amount thats in the food when you eat it. Think about that the next time you are weighing your plate at the salad bar. Half of all the food purchased in the United States becomes garbage. Tossing out just a leftover piece of chicken can waste 115 gallons of water.
Thomas M. Kostigen is the author of The Green Blue Book: The Simple Water-Savings Guide to Everything in Your Life (Rodale) on bookshelves March 22d, World Water Day. For more information and to order a copy, go to www.thegreenbluebook.com. Photo via Pink Sherbet Photography (CC).