Less Is More: Water Conservation Campaign Taps Success Through Simplicity

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Water conservation is quickly becoming one of our most pressing environmental issues, with only 3% of the world’s water suitable for human consumption, and increasingly severe droughts that plague states, countries, and entire continents.

A natural place to begin addressing our water usage is inside the home – checking for leaky faucets, switching to low-flow showerheads, and installing toilets that use 1-2 gallons of water to flush instead of the 5-8 gallons of older models. Ever the innovators, we have even developed some high-tech solutions to the water use as well, with apps like DropCountr and EnergySaver that allow you to easily monitor, and reduce, your home’s water use.

#h2no yard sign

#h2no yard sign. Image courtesy of www.joinh2no.com

Plain and simple 

These are excellent measures to take, but Jennifer Grayson of the Huffington Post argues that they ignore a far simpler way. Grayson writes about an innovative campaign by LA ad agency Omelet, that offers residents signs proclaiming their preference for water conservation over lush green lawns.

It’s a brilliant idea, and its genius lies in its simplicity. Most people truly want to conserve water and are hungrily seeking ways to do so – as evidenced by the incredible array of solutions above – but societal pressure plays an incredible role in determining our actions. Choosing to conserve this valuable resource by not watering your lawn comes at the cost of sticking out like an unattractive sore thumb in a neighborhood of lush green.

Not only does your home suddenly look like the odd one out, but with the value North American culture places place on maintaining immaculately lush and manicured lawns, choosing not to do so can feel like one big flashing sign advertising inadequacy. Funny how a simple sign can do so much to explain why you are no longer keeping up with the Joneses, and even turn the pressure around.

By choosing to be a part of this innovative and clever campaign, dead grass ceases to be a sign of laziness, or the telltale marker of neglected lawn, instead it identifies the homes of individuals who have prioritized water use for human survival rather than the maintenance of outward appearance. Imagine being the one house on the block still pouring gallons of clean drinking water into the ground when every single one of your neighbors has deemed it unnecessary and wasteful.

Replicating success

The simplicity and genius of the campaign has clearly struck a chord with Californians, with demand for the signs quickly outpacing supply. In the opinion of this hippie reporter, this is a perfect opportunity to take a page from the low-tech playbook and  simply make one instead.

Use scrap wood or recycled cardboard, get your kids involved,  and even get the positive peer-pressure off to a head start by making a few extra to offer to your neighbors.

H20? #H2No!

Feature image courtesy of tylernol

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Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.