This morning, after blitzing out of the house half “done-up” to make it to a meeting, I stopped by one of the public restrooms to make sure my hair wasn’t sticking straight out of my head and to apply that much-needed mascara.
That’s the backstory to this post. However, the real story is that when I entered the restroom, the first thing I noticed was the water running full blast in one of the sinks.
That’s irresponsible, I grumbled to myself, thinking someone had just forgotten to turn off the water when they left.
As I moved to turn the water off, however, I remembered that sometimes people have what they like to call a “nervous bladder,” and they “need” running water in order to be able to use public restrooms (I assume to mask the sound?). Maybe that was this situation? I checked beneath the stalls, and sure enough, there was a pair of feet.
So now I’m faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, I want to be a considerate person. This girl obviously thinks she needs to turn on water to use the bathroom, even when she is in there all alone, and I should probably respect that. I also didn’t want to turn off the water right away and then stand there doing my make-up, because inevitably she’d come out and be pissed that I’d turned off the water on her.
But on the other hand — COME ON, LADY!!!
It is incredibly selfish to “need” to unnecessarily waste gallons of water just to go to the bathroom (?!?!). There are people in the world that have to walk 2 or 3 miles every day to reach a source of drinkable water. Water is a non-renewable resource, and just because you have always been able to turn on your faucet and see water doesn’t mean you will always be able to do so in the future.
FACT: A running tap can waste up to six liters (1.5 gallons) per minute.*
I was fuming as I put on my make-up. In retrospect, I should have just turned off the water and made her deal with it. But that’s rude. I don’t want to be rude. And chances are, she’d come out of the stall and I’d end up knowing her (since I was in my department building).
So I put on my make-up and left — and I am still angry about it forty-five minutes later.
I guess I’m not angry at her, per se. But I am so so so frustrated at her attitude– one of privilege and self-involvement and a complete lack of disregard for other people.
Okay. So her four or five gallons of wasted water hasn’t drained the Pacific Ocean. And when I run the dishwasher or wash my delicates, I’ll use more water than that (and it can definitely be argued that that’s wasteful as well).
But what if everyone in the world (blessed enough to have running water) just decided one day to waste a couple extra gallons of water going to the bathroom, just because they had a “nervous bladder”?
People think that the impending shortage of fresh water isn’t their problem. Using up the world’s resources is not their problem. But they’re wrong. Water is important to everyone.
According to the second UN World Water Development Report** (“Water, A Shared Responsibility”), if present levels of consumption continue, two-thirds of the global population will live in areas of water stress by 2025.*
That’s nothing to thumb your nose at.
I believe we all have a responsibility to do our part (no matter how small). The beginning of responsible energy usage is to eliminate your waste and increase your efficiency. Recycle. Change your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. Unplug your appliances when not in use (including your TV).
The same applies to water. Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth. Put something large (like a brick) in the toilet cistern to displace water so not as much water is used to flush. Take short showers instead of baths.
We all share Earth. And just because we’ve been lucky enough to grow up in an area of the world where fresh water feels unlimited does not mean we can wrap ourselves up in our bubble of privilege and care only for ourselves. It’s not going to kill you to let others hear you tinkle. Please grow up.
*Article on Water Efficiency — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_efficiency
** United Nations World Water Development Report 2: Water, A Shared Responsibility — http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001444/144409E.pdf