Rationed: 1 Cup of Water to Wash Your Hair


Fact or fiction? In reality, this fiction is quickly becoming a fact.

Consider the United States where I just read that 11 cities are running dry including Salt Lake City, El Paso, Miami and Los Angeles. Plus, I just spoke to a colleague in Los Angeles where the buzz was about George Clooney getting married, wild fires, and the water shortage.

It was reported that Lynn Ingram, a climate expert at the University of California, Berkeley said, “This could potentially be the driest water year (in California) in 500 years.” It seems to be coming true.

The New York Times ran a full series on India’s water shortage in 2006 entitled, “Thirsty Giant.” It examined India’s growing water crisis from distribution and sanitation problems in cities to farmers’ wells running dry.

China with 20 percent of the world’s population and seven percent of its water – has its rivers running dry. According to an October article in The Economist, “China has lost 27,000 rivers, mostly as a result of over-exploitation by farms or factories.”

You get the point. Water is a finite source.

Water is the lifeblood of most manufacturing businesses. I have learned it is the lifeblood of the cosmetics and beauty business. It is the lifeblood of the beverage industry, obviously. It is also the lifeblood of the energy industry for natural gas, coal, and oil production.

So, while we can’t imagine a world without water, we must challenge ourselves to imagine a world with less.

In fact, all businesses are faced with the same challenges – to reimagine consumption.

In reimagining consumption, all businesses have the challenge of a seemingly impossible puzzle to solve: growth with less — less impact on the earth, while positively impacting more people. Companies want to meet the needs of more consumers using fewer natural resources – or sustainable manufacturing.

This reimagining of consumption must be thought all the way through the “consumption chain.”

Most of us think about this in transportation– like automobiles. We think about using less energy in the manufacturing process, and using less fuel as consumers.

But very few people think about the consumption chain in something like the beauty business.

Which leads me back to being rationed just one cup of water today. Like any manufacturing business, we need to manage finite resources. And, we have to figure out how to provide a great consumer experience in a world with less – water.

For example, some companies are suggesting that we turn off the water when shampooing to save water. But what if water is rationed and we must rinse off with only one litre of water (about four cups), instead of the 7 litres required today. I know that companies are working to formulate shampoos that can do this.

In all manufacturing, we must be committed to reducing water consumption.

If together, we reimagine consumption, and realize our resources are finite, our possibilities are infinite.

But, the problem of water, energy and food are really an opportunity to drive the next economy. My friend and colleague Jigar Shah has pointed to this often. He knows that we can drive the next economy with his “100-100 New Economy Plan.”

We need 1,000,000 people to convince their friends to implement $10,000,000 in climate change solutions in their backyard. All of us can help 100,000 companies sell $100 million worth of solutions by 2020. The result: a new global $10 trillion economy and a more sustainable world.

For example, if we install more solar, we cut our energy bills, drive our local economy with solar installations, and slow down the use of water in energy plants.

At the same time you can support your local hardware store and make sure you have diffusers on all your faucets. Yes, and turn the water off when you wash your hair. Get used to it, because soon it may be turned off for us.

[Photo Credit: desiitaly on Flickr via Creative Commons 2.0]

This post appeared on the LinkedIn Influencer page of Rob Wyse on September 27th, 2014 and can be viewed there by clicking here.
Rob Wyse (@robwyse) is Managing Director, New York, of Capital Content, where he advises thought leaders and writes about issues that drive economic opportunity, improve the environment, and lead to positive social change. His areas of focus include for-benefit enterprises, climate change, interfaith understanding, jobs and the economy, Internet access, and healthcare reform.