Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Blue Marble and its Summer

In early Jan' 13, my son returned with 10 'Save Water Tickets' from his school. As part of the awareness campaign, they were playing an interesting 'game' wherein every child received 10 tickets with a goal to save the most. The rules are simple: water usage during snack or lunch break is 'free'. Usage during any other time requires one to spend a ticket. Its impact? He hasn't spent even a single ticket thus far. They also created reminders and posters for the campaign and my home now has a 'Save Water' reminder stuck near the kitchen tap.

Blue Marble
Blue Marble! That's how earth appears from far above in space. Of course we know this blue is 71% of the earth surface under water. Few among us may know that oceans hold 97% of the total water leaving only 3% fresh fit for use. Even fewer will know that 69% of this fresh water is locked in ice-caps or glaciers.

Lost? Don't worry as knowing these stats won't help to resolve the problem that my or your city is about to face again this summer - water scarcity. There is, however, one piece of data that could truly help but we are unaware of it. Amount of water we waste in a day!! Do you know it for yourself? Why not?

If the tap at your home runs dry this summer then you too have to own the blame. An average tap runs down about a litre in 6-8 seconds. Whenever we let it spurt directly into the drainage pipe, we contribute to our own problem. If you think you never do it then just observe yourself.

Do I use every drop of water effectively? No, I don't but I actively monitor my usage to save it, without sacrificing anything. Now is the time to act and save it for the summer. Few months down when you will hear 'Save Water' slogans all around, it will have little impact. Digging a well to put out a raging fire, does it work?

My Core Themes
So what do I do to save water? Nothing extraordinary. In fact there are already plenty of practical and exotic suggestions on the web. Though we may not relate to some of them but they do give us an idea. Personally, based on my lifestyle here are the four core-themes I stick to (with basic examples):

Reduce-Reduce-Reduce  This is the most basic and effective step. Turning the tap ON is never a problem. But opening it fully every time or for extended period or even when avoidable indeed is. Amount of water discharged from a tap depends on its flow and duration. Observe how every time we not only turn it fully but also let most of it drain directly into the sink.

So either open it only a little or turn it off early. Soon you will be able to do both. In fact, I discovered that I rarely had to turn it fully. This new found awareness further led me to even stop it while soaping hands or face, rinsing mouth and utensils. I also started noticing others e.g. our domestic help would use the tap like a fire-hose and occasionally keep it running while cleaning utensils. All these 'leaks' have now been plugged.

Strangely, you may also feel a strong 'resistance' to act especially when water is being used for personal care. Notice your reluctance even when opportunity is obvious. That's the precise moment when you must not back off.

Soil Less – In kitchen, do you ever think before using an extra plate, bowl, spoon or picking another glass? Note that they all need to be cleaned eventually. Same applies for clothing too. If you soil less, you need less water.

I find ample opportunities to avoid soiling articles at home. In office, I now use water-bottle instead of hard-plastic glasses from the pantry that are washed for reuse.

Reuse – This comprises of two main action-areas:
a. Reuse of water - Here the emphasis is on reusing it. A simple example is collecting water used for washing vegetables or fruits and using it to water plants. Another reuse could be while rinsing lightly-soiled utensils.

b. Reuse of Articles - This involves reusing articles or utensils before eventually washing them thus reducing the number of soiled-articles that would need cleaning.

Share – Without rallying others, your tap will still run dry. Share your initiative, spread it wide and create awareness. While we can't 'manufacture' water but we surely can control its utilization. This is critical. Now is the time to act. So wake yourself up, and others, before it is late.

I intend to save at least 2000 litres this year. This would be more than the drinking-water needs of my family for the WHOLE YEAR. Besides, I shall progress on my goal of 100 trees and digging trenches for water conservation as part of Hariyali NGO association through my office.

My Wish
This summer too, on a sweltering day with few trickles of sweat down your head and body, your dry throat will be soothed by a chilled glass of fresh water. As your hands will pour it gently on the thirsty tongue, your eyes will close involuntarily before you gulp it all down. With a deep sigh, you will keep the emptied glass back on the table.

May this glass of water you drink be saved by ME!! Will YOU wish the same for me too?


  1. Rightly said there are many other ways to reuse water. Water used in washing cloths can be used to wash bathroom /floor /stairs

  2. Hi Vinod, Very nice post ! Water is the basic need of every human being .... i think its every ones responsibility to save water .... there are cities in india where peoples wont get water for 7 to 8 days .... cant imagine how they servive ... really an eye opener article..


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