A Different Type of Green: The Shower Pledge

A different type of green:
This is a different type of green because its something I don’t usually write about. Y’all know architecture and design are my babies, but this is important. If I haven’t learned anything else from minoring in sustainability, I have learned that the field is multidimensional; the built, managed, social, and natural systems are all connected at the end of the day. What happens in one will trickle down and effect the others.

My truth:
Today, I have a confession to make. *Lowers head in shame.* (Rodney King voice) In the built system that I occupy, I take extreme advantage of a managed system which depletes one of the most important natural system. Translation: the amount of water that I use is INSANE. I have been told this all of my life. Despite the fact that for most of my life, I have been deathly afraid of wading into pool or lake water that reaches anywhere above my stomach (I start to panic), when it comes to my tub and shower, I turn into a freakin’ mermaid!!! *Singing like Ariel.. under the seaaaaa!* I have taken showers that have lasted longer than 40 minutes before. That is not an exaggeration. It is very factual. Oh and don’t get me started on my double baths! You know, sit in the water until it turns cold, and run another bath. Sigh. My family’s favorite complaint about my showers: “You weigh 5 pounds! What are you doing in there??!” Since I have been allowed to wash my own hair (in my culture, mothers/sisters/aunts wash a young girls’ hair until they are deemed old enough to maintain it on their own, generally in their mid-teens) showers have become events. Those events where you know they’re just going to last forever, and your soul gets sad. Well, everyone else gets sad and starts complaining while trying to get in the bathroom before me. I’m actually happy, singing, contemplating life and detangling my hair.. but the world.. it is sad. Dollars down the drain. Potable water (water that is good to drink) gone to waste.

The facts:
The World Wildlife Fund produces a “Living Planet Report” each year, and it is defined as “the world’s leading, science-based analysis on the health of our only planet and the impact of human activity.” The 2010 report shows The United States of America ranked 3rd in overall water footprint of production.

Although this graph can be understood to correlate with the size of a country being the determining factor for the water usage, lifestyle choices and cultural norms (social aspects) contribute to a people’s water usage. For example, while I was home over Thanksgiving break, my NeeNee tried to explain to my little cousin that she should turn the water off while brushing her teeth. Otherwise, she is just wasting water. She couldn’t understand why NeeNee was trying to tell her this, because it is not what she is told to do at her home. Therefore, she has been taught, like many of us, wasteful habits that we repeat several times daily.

Be the change you wish to see:
Thanks, Gahndi, for that saying. He had to be speaking specifically to my shower situation. Now that I have publicly shared my water issue – admitting the issue is always step one – I need to devise a way to deal with it. I’ll share that with you all, too.

The shower pledge:
I, Addie, overuse water without thinking of the consequence it has on anyone but myself. I can no longer be satisfied with my water consumption based on whether the water bill is in agreeance with my pocketbook or not. I must always remember that my water usage depletes a larger source, and wasting potable water is not safe for our planet’s future. Although I cannot deplete an entire reservoir on my own, that does not give me the right to use more than I need. I may never be a person that takes 5 minute showers, but I will strive to make myself conscious of my water consumption every time I turn on a faucet. By staying aware, I can reduce my water consumption by turning the water off while I shampoo my hair, wash myself, or condition my hair, and I can stop taking double baths.  These may seem like small changes now, but they are the steps I am willing to take to make a difference in the future.

Conclusion:
Curb your water intake. You’re not the only person on this planet that needs water! Woosah. Talking to myself there. I hope you learned something new with this different OWNG approach to green today! I hope it causes you to reflect on your everyday habits, question how you can be more sustainable just by becoming aware of how you are wasteful, and become more frugal when using the resources that all of us in the world share.

Until next time, Ci Vediamo!!!

OWNG

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