teeth brushing

Courtesy Bru-nO via Pixabay.

Dentists recommend brushing teeth twice a day. Teeth brushing should be a daily, healthy habit for everyone. Yet even with such a healthy habit, bad decisions can cause more harm than good.

A bad habit to accompany teeth brushing is leaving the tap running as you brush. Everyone who has this bad habit should quit it cold turkey, and conserve water and other resources when brushing their teeth.


“The truth is, it’s not that hard to conserve our water. Simply just turn off the faucet.”

-Madison Crosby, UGA student


People are supposed to brush their teeth for two minutes. If the tap runs in that time, an average of 4.4 gallons of water will be used. Multiply this for the twice recommended daily brushing, and that’s 8.8 gallons of water used needlessly per day by only a single individual.

It’s not just water that’s wasted when it runs down the drain, but electricity as well. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, electricity is needed to run a pump to push water from a water tower, a large container where a city’s water is held, to your sink. If you brush your teeth with warm water, you further waste the electricity your water heater used to heat that water.

Take note of all the resources that are wasted when water runs for the two minutes it takes to brush your teeth. The habit is needless and frivolous. Not only does it cost you more, but, according to some, it can point to a sign of privilege as well.

“Clean water is a resource that we often see as indefinite and replaceable, but in reality it’s not. Many people in the world today don’t have access to clean water and would be appalled to see water casually running out of the faucet unused while we brush our teeth,” said Madison Crosby, fourth-year ecology major with a certificate in sustainability from Albany. “The truth is, it’s not that hard to conserve our water. Simply just turn off the faucet.”

As global temperatures rise, droughts will increase in frequency and severity around the world. We’re already seeing it in Cape Town, a city that is predicted to be entirely out of water by June 4. Other major cities, such as Sao Paulo in Brazil, have been plagued by water shortages in the past. Cities in the U.S., such as Los Angeles, also faces water shortage problems as well. Let’s not put Athens on the list.

It is terrible that U.S. citizens use fresh water so recklessly and frivolously when others, both currently around the world and the future, would give anything for those 4.4 gallons going down the drain. By turning the water off as you brush your teeth, you implement a sustainable habit that benefits your country and the world you live in.

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(1) comment

Rmyers

“Clean water is a resource that we often see as indefinite and replaceable, but in reality it’s not. Many people in the world today don’t have access to clean water and would be appalled to see water casually running out of the faucet unused while we brush our teeth,”

Water gets wasted because it's cheap. It's cheap because there is an abundant supply. Water gets reused constantly; it is not a finite resource. There is the same amount of water on earth now as there was 100 million years ago, give or take a gallon.

The fact that people living in desserts and third world countries that lack infrastructure to clean and distribute water doesn't have an impact on the economics here. Tap water costs an average of $2 per 1,000 gallons. That means one can waste roughly 5.5 gallons of water per day for a year and it will only cost them $2. That's about half a penny per day.

People that let the tap run do so because there is zero economic incentive to do otherwise. There is also zero social incentive as brushing one's teeth is typically a private activity. All of this is to say that it's not going to happen unless water starts costing a ton of money, which will never happen. This is not a problem by any stretch of the imagination.

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