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Hand Washing Solution - August 15, 2020

With the newfound popularity and importance of hand washing that the Coronavirus has induced, I was curious to know the balance between cleanliness and water conservation. My observation is that when one is important, the other is not. Taking a deep dive into internet searching for hand washing procedures, I found almost all instructions lacking detail about what to do with the water. Finally, I found one that clearly instructed, “Wet your hands with running water. Turn off the tap and apply soap.”

Going down the rabbit hole on the subject, other search results reminded me of the mandates and technologies long established to promote water conservation and quality. Studies have been conducted revealing the volumes of water wasted down the drain from letting the tap run while soaping. I also read several conflicting statements about what temperature the water must be. I, for one, could certainly save much more water if I didn’t wait for the hot water to arrive at the tap before every instance of wanting to wash my hands. Lastly, I was reminded that the cure must not be worse than the problem. In this case, the need for clean hands must not become a water resource problem.

So, with some thought and attention to detail, each hand washing instance can be a water-conservation habit-forming opportunity. I summon up a quote from inventor and visionary R. Buckminster Fuller, “[be] architects of the future, not its victims.”

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