Monday, 17 August 2009

Green and confused: How can I convince my family to save water?

Why you need to tap into conserving water now
Kieran Cooke
Living in a rural area, we don’t have our water metered but I’m always telling my menfolk not to leave taps on. They say there’s plenty of rain and I shouldn’t badger them. Do you have some ammuntioon to convince them?
Next time they’re making you wash their clothes, throw this fact at them: to manufacture just one T-shirt — that’s growing the cotton, producing and dyeing the material and transporting it — involves using a whole pond of water, about 2,500 litres or 660 gallons. The idea of including all water-related processes along the supply chain, called “virtual water”, is to shock people such as the men in your home into understanding how profligate is our use of this vital resource.
We are composed mostly of water and in the absence of liquids, we quickly die. Yet we waste water — flushing needlessly large amounts down the toilet, leaving taps running, literally throwing it away. We should all visit a village in northern India or Central Asia where people have to walk miles for just one container of precious water.
While water shortages might be seen as problems of the developing world, as climate change begins to bite in Britain taps will run dry and water restrictions will be increasingly frequent. Climate modellers predict that the high temperatures experienced in the summer of 2003 could be the norm by 2040.
Rainfall patterns will alter: while little change is likely in the North of Scotland, the South of England could experience a 40 per cent decline in summer precipitation, meaning aquifers would dry up, rivers become a trickle and crops and gardens wither. By navigating round the UK Climate Impacts Programme website ( you can look at predictions for your area and how dry it’s likely to be.
Even if you’re in a part of the country likely to undergo only marginal change, it’s a fallacy to think that you’re going to escape the impact. The average consumption of water a person in the UK is 150 litres a day. But add in the “virtual water” content used to produce and transport food, clothing, computer chips and other items in the UK and that figure comes to a 4,600 litres a person a day.
We live in an interdependent world in which water resources are under severe strain. So tell your family to keep quiet — and shut off that tap.
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