Trickle Down

Conservation Is Not Just A Private Virtue

There is a scene from Andrew Sorkin's TV series The West Wing, now on DVD, in which two characters go through identical morning routines in two different hotel rooms. The point is to illustrate that Donna (once a lowly White House assistant, now a senior campaign staffer) is much more organized than her former boss, Josh (the high-powered deputy chief of staff). Donna has everything down to a science while Josh oversleeps, spills the coffee, can't find his shoes, etc. I love Donna, and in general, I root for her over Josh, but during this particular scene I can hardly sit still.

Since every second counts in her busy morning, when Donna walks into the bathroom she turns on the shower. Ever efficient, while the water is heating up she turns on the coffee percolator, fixes her toothbrush, and turns on the water in the sink to brush her teeth. But when Donna hears something on the television, she goes into the bedroom to listen, leaving both faucets running.

I can't watch this. I fast-forward.

For most of the twenty-nine years my family and I have lived in India, we have rented houses with no showers. We took “bucket baths,” in which you ladle water over yourself, one cup at a time. Now that we have our own home, we have showers. But lately, to save water, we've reverted to the old bucket system.

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Jo McGowan, a Commonweal columnist, writes from Deradoon, India.