This final article in the “Go Green with EtsyChai” series comes from Rachel Swirsky of Phony Art, in Israel.
“When you live on the edge of a desert, in a country that is in the middle of a decade- long water shortage, water conservation is something you do not think about. No seriously, I am not joking. I almost never think about water conservation- mostly because it has become so much a part of my daily activities that thinking about it would be a waste of water.
Growing up in Canada I remember learning that I should shut off the water while I was brushing my teeth so that I would not waste water. Some days I remembered; most days I forgot. Even if I did shut off the water for those 30 seconds - what difference did it really make when I knew my mom ran every dish under a continuously running strong stream of water before putting them in the dishwasher? Once I was older I remember going to look at new washing machines and having to think about whether paying extra for the water saving machine was worthwhile - before deciding that the extra was just not in our budget. We HAD to follow the little ways to save water, but the big ways were mostly optional.
Here [Israel] it is a totally different ballgame. One of the first projects my daughter made in school was a laminated sign for her bathroom sink that read "Lishmore al kol tipat" (save every drop). In her world, teeth brushing never involves running water for longer than to wet the brush and clean it after. When people were visiting and they let the water run she was frantic about banging on the door to get them to turn it off. When we wash dishes we follow the same pattern. Water is for wetting things, and then for removing soap. We wet the plates, turn off the water, then soap them up from a saucer of soap and put them in a pile to be rinsed off quickly. When we went to look for appliances here, water efficient models were the only ones available. No idea if they would be more or less expensive (if there was a comparison) because there was no other option. Everything from low-flow gravity-assisted toilets to sensors on trees to tell the farmer when they need water are part of the regular order of things around here. I really live in a world where I do not need to think about how to save water.
With as much water as there is on this world, fresh water is at a premium. The one source for Israeli freshwater is the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)- and it is shrinking fast. It has fallen below so many different "emergency lines" that Israel has turned to painting new ones.
This is not to say we limit the water we do need. From April to October everyone everywhere carries a water bottle or three. Everywhere you go you see fountains flowing with liters and liters of recycled wet stuff.
Israeli's are incredibly proud of their mastery over water. Over the last 60 years Israeli's have drained the Northern swampland and brought water to the dessert. They have found new ways to keep farms watered using the barest minimum of H2O. Israeli farming methods like drip irrigation are now helping to bring farms and food to third world countries around the globe.
So please, take a moment to remember to turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth. That little bit of water can feed a thirsty tree, which will in turn feed a hungry person.”
How do you conserve water where you live?