They are always there to offer a friendly smile, no-strings-attached hugs, unwavering encouragement and an endless stockpile of unsolicited grapefruit to thwart any wayward scurvy attacks that might dare to loom on the horizon. Parents, through thick and thin, they are the people who never let us down, no matter what — except when it comes to their water consumption habits. Using the excuse that they are “set in their ways” (despite receiving the umpteenth hands-on tutorial involving nothing more than a simple twist of their faucet handles to the “off” position), the very act of water resource management in one’s parental household can often be an exercise in sheer eco-futility. First, allow me to come clean. While I am no longer considered a spring chicken, my dear mother was married and birthing babies at the tender age of 18. Consequently, even though I am all grown up, she still has plenty of years ahead of her and is not surprisingly pretty “hip” to the times. Unlike my friends, who talk about serious generational gaps existing in their family lines, my mother is definitely dialed into the green scene, happily recycling and repurposing her little heart out as well as buying organic household staples and citing interesting eco-stats for her hardcore greenie daughter to ponder. Despite her perennially well-intentioned ways, she continues to be a natural resource hog of the highest order when she blows through a zillion gallons of water while hand washing her dishes or scrubbing the counters. I have had that odd role-reversing talk that adult children have with their parents in reminding her in infinitely regurgitated ways that the world isn’t the same as it used to be and that we all have to do our part to conserve. It is endlessly confounding to me that she remembers to use vinegar to cleanse her home (rather than the chemicals that she was a long-term fan of), yet she allows the water to run at a thunderous clip through her faucets while momentarily scratching her head, gazing at a bird through the window or simply just contemplating the meaning of life. It occurred to me that there must be other individuals in my position who have witnessed the very same perplexingly wasteful water habits and are craving a way to break through their parents’ H20 mental block. So, here are a few water preservation tips that I plan to dispense the next time I see my mother. I hope that they will benefit fellow eco-minded children of other chronic water-wasters, too! 1) There’s no such thing as ‘free water’! Whether a household water supply stems from well or municipal reserves, water-wasters need to be gently (or forcefully) reminded that their H20 does not come from an endless supply. My mother ritualistically reminds me that her water bill is practically free, but in the end, it always costs us. 2) If you’re not motivated to conserve water for the planet, do it for your wallet! Parents are known for dispensing words of wisdom such as “every little bit adds up over time,” so this might be a great opportunity to give them a dose of their own medicine. Show them how much water can literally accumulate by placing a large 5-gallon bucket underneath their faucet and allowing it to drip for one solid hour. In addition to using all of that water that would have run down their drain to hydrate their houseplants and/or landscaping, they can correlate that visual reminder with the savings that will add up in their pocket by conserving water. 3) You AREN’T an old dog… and you CAN learn new tricks! Here’s a commonsense rule of thumb to follow at all times: Whenever you scrub, leave the faucet on the off position. It’s as simple as that. While you are in “cleaning mode,” there is no reason why you need to run the water unless you are rinsing off a dirty sponge, your hands or piles of dishes. 4) Break the habit by making it harder to ‘rinse and repeat’! Old habits die hard, eh? Then make it more challenging to turn on the faucet by covering it, placing a piece of wide tape around it, sticking a sock over it… where there’s a will, there’s a way. Whatever you can use to make your water-wasting parent less inclined to follow through on their habit will be well worth the H20-preserving outcome. (Let’s just hope that they don’t sneak off and use the bathroom faucet instead!)
Four Ways to Get Water-Wasters to Clean up Their Act
Have a water-waster in your house? A few simple reminders can make a world of difference.