Watering the Planet on Earth Day


In recognition of Earth Day (I started to write, "In celebration of Earth Day," but it doesn't seem right to "celebrate" Earth Day when we're doing such a shitty job of caring for the planet), I'm providing links to a website where you can check your water footprint, which I learned about thanks to this news story.

No one with a brain will be surprised to be told that the US has the largest water footprint in the world--we use more of all the other resources in the world, so why should water be any different? But what makes me crazy is the amount of water we waste in the most careless and irresponsible of ways.

For instance, the movie Michael Clayton is a case in point. Now, I loved this movie; I thought it was just about perfect in terms of its storytelling, and although I wondered for the first 90 minutes why Tilda Swinton won an Oscar for her performance given how little screen time she had, in the last 15 minutes I totally figured it out. But I was really annoyed at all the water just left running in this movie.

For instance, while Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) is waiting to hear the results of a very unpleasant job she's just ordered done, she sits in a stall in some bathroom, and leaves the water running full blast in a sink.... because? Because it masks the sound of her sweating? It makes no sense. People can sit in bathroom stalls and avoid detection easily enough if they want to; why did she need to run the water? Or when Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkerson) wants to make it seem like he's still in his hotel room, he just leaves the shower running--and I bet the hot as well as cold water was on. But why? He could have just turned on the television.

I don't understand Americans' propensity for letting things we actually need simply run down the drain.

When I went to Matthew's Belgian wedding last April, I initially had trouble figuring out how to work the lights in the various hotel rooms I stayed in. Turns out that the lights don't work unless you put your room key in a slot by the door. In other words, you can't go off and leave all the lights on in your room unless you don't care whether or not you get back in. Seems very sensible to me.


I loved Michael Clayton, but I wondered about the Tilda Swinton thing, too. I was intrigued by that.

Also, the running water trick is the oldest in the book. Besides being bad for the environment, it's predictable, just like someone going into a dark room in a scary movie. Which now will make me think they just don't have the room key (THAT idea is genius).

the running water trick is the oldest in the book.

You're right that it's an old trick, LG, and it's also a learned one. There's a question on the "water footprint" website that made me recoil just as if I'd been asked, "Do you ever invite people over for dinner and serve them a meal of human excrement?" Of course not! The same goes for leaving the water running while I brush my teeth or wash dishes. OF COURSE I don't leave the water running while I brush my teeth; of course I only turn it on when I want to rinse my toothbrush. Of course I don't wash dishes with the water running; of course I fill up the sink, wash the dishes, then rinse them. And I often scoop the dish water out of my sink and use it to water plants, because the phosphates in dish soap are actually good for plants in a number of ways, especially in that it breaks up the surface tension of the dirt and allows the water to be more fully absorbed by the soil.

Except for the bit about using dish water to water plants, it's all part of how I was trained to use water. When I first learned to brush my teeth as a child, my parents said, "Turn the water off while you're brushing." Water was scarce in Arizona; we were taught not to waste it. It's not hard to teach kids.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on April 22, 2008 11:17 AM.

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