Friday, October 9, 2009

Increase Use to Learn How to Reduce

By Liz Metzger, Director; Canastota Public Library

Aldous Huxley once said, "Most human beings have an infinite capacity for taking things for granted."  I am ashamed to admit this is sometimes true of me but my eyes were opened once again during my summer vacation.

At the beginning of August, I visited my college aged daughter in Spain after she had finished classes at the University of Barcelona.  We had a whirlwind week of 18 hour days, trying to cram in as much sightseeing as humanly possible in 95 degree heat.  We were surrounded by history, fabulous art and architecture, the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea, delicious food, great music and scads of people  (and their pet dogs!).  But, you couldn't drink the water!  Even the locals buy ALL their water in giant sized plastic bottles.  We found no working public drinking fountains and there were no water glasses at restaurants because you have to buy bottled water there, too!  And 16 ounces of water could cost as much as 3 Euros (about $4.50 in American money).

My daughter's host family asked her to limit shower length, not to shower daily and to reduce her dirty laundry and toilet flushes to conserve water.  Hotels and hostels had signage about doing the same.  I realized that I took fresh, potable water for granted.  I bet many of us in the United States do not consider water to be a scarce resource.  But, less than 1% of the world's fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.  An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country's slum uses in a whole day.

So, now I am much more conscious of how I use water in my personal effort to waste less and appreciate more.  You can learn more about this and similar issues from books and from the internet. 

Visit us at the library.  We can help you find the resources to reduce your capacity for taking our resources for granted.

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