EDITORIAL: Conservation is within reach

It takes a lot more than singing shorter songs in the shower to reduce water consumption, but a Nanaimo family is finding out that reducing household water and energy usage is a goal well within reach.

It takes a lot more than singing shorter songs in the shower to reduce water consumption, but a Nanaimo family is finding out that reducing household water and energy usage is a goal well within reach.

The first step, according to the Belbin family, which is one of six families participating in the Energy Diet Challenge hosted by Canadian Geographic and Shell Canada, is overcoming the preconceived notion that they aren’t wasteful.

Upon closer inspection, they realized they were using 760 litres of water daily, 320 litres more than the city average.

For Grant and Alison Belbin, who own a waste removal company, that alone sparked a family conservation effort which was enthusiastically embraced by their three children. They also pay closer attention to water and Hydro bills – learning how to read them was the first step.

The three-month challenge is an effective way to initiate action at the household level.

Locally, the city and region mail out newsletters and pamphlets to households encouraging household waste reduction, but until some kind of action is implored, it is likely they go unread and directly in the recycle bin.

In Nanaimo, the city is on the verge of spending $65 million on a new water treatment facility. Much of the water from that facility will ultimately be wasted, based on current usage.

What might spur local conservation would be a grassroots effort similar to the Energy Diet Challenge.

The city, region, builders and private companies could partner to create a Nanaimo competition, challenging several households at a time to reduce their energy and water use.

Just two weeks in, the Belbins are already realizing the benefits. They’re having fun, saving energy, and passing on what they learn to others in their community, which is something to sing about.