Most admit to flushing leftovers, hair down toilet

Canadians seem to have trouble understanding what toilets are for. Sure, we know they’re for flushing away THAT stuff. But many of us are flushing away plenty of other things too, such as hair balls, leftover food, and cigarette butts. The findings come from the fourth annual Canadian Water Attitudes Study. The survey was commissioned by RBC and Unilever and endorsed by the Canadian Partnership Initiative of the United Nations Water for Life Decade. Ipsos Reid conducted the online survey, polling more than 2,000 adults. The survey finds that 72 per cent of Canadians use the toilet to get rid of things that could have been disposed of in other ways. Albertans (83 per cent) are most likely to admit to using the toilet as a garbage-can proxy; Quebecers are the least likely, at 65 per cent. This is despite the fact that 78 per cent of us say we are trying “reasonably hard” to conserve water. Each flush of the toilet uses three to 20 litres of clean water, depending on the kind of toilet we have – water that could have been put to better use. Strangely, Canadians seem to realize that, since the survey found that Canadians are pretty water-aware. Eighty per cent of us know that the water in out toilet is just as clean as the water coming out of the tap. Three-quarters are aware that a full 45 per cent of water used in the home is flushed down the toilet. But only 40 per cent of us understand that electricity is required energy to treat and pump tap water. “This data highlights, once again, that Canadians are not making the connection between their personal water use and the true value of water,” Bob Sandford of the Canadian Partnership Initiative said Monday in a statement. “They claim to care about conserving it, yet knowingly engage in water-wasting activities, including using fresh, clean water to dispose of garbage. Canadians need to understand that water is a finite resource and there are significant social and economic implications related to wasting it.” While Canadians may be aware of the need for water conservation, we do some pretty crazy things with the precious resource. A full 46 per cent admit to leaving the tap on while doing the dishes, while 17 per cent of us say we like using water to hose down the driveway. As for the cost of that water, more than 60 per cent of respondents say they don’t have a clue how much their household pays for water. But according to the survey, whatever it is, it’s too high: about 70 per cent believe the price of water is high enough to discourage waste of the valuable resource. “Water is a real bargain in Canada, which is another reason Canadians have no concept of its value,” said Sandford. “Compared to other developed nations, Canadians pay very little to have water delivered to their homes. In France, water costs four times more, and in Germany, almost seven times more. Not surprisingly, average daily domestic water use in these countries is less than half of what it is in Canada. “Until Canadians make the connection between personal use of water and its true value, our water-wasting habits will continue.” The Ipsos Reid poll, conducted during the second week of January, involved 2,066 participants from an online panel. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that composition reflected the adult population according to Census data. An unweighted probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. ((22 MAR 2011))








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