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Free and Clean for All: Corporate Global Responsibility Issues of Water:

It’s our responsibility to take a stronger position with water that’s not just about water pollution (that position should be table stakes to any corporation in business in the world today), but more about ready and available sources. It’s about a desire to reduce our TAKE from the total supply; our responsibility to not draw water from sources which cannot be replenished or taken from communities who have no other source of clean available water and turn around and sell it back to them.

The real measure of my embracing of sustainability is been in my behavior changes.   Two years ago, as my awareness was raised around the amount of garbage I was sending to the landfill, I decided to compost.  This has led to a greater degree of recycling and hence much less garbage leaving my home. More recently, this past summer I purchased a Prius to replace my dying Volvo. Soon, my awareness of my gas consumption heightened.  Not only was I more conscious of the frequency for filling my tank, but ultimately, it made me much more mindful how often I was driving, and how and when I could reduce those patterns – carpooling, walking (I live in a Neighborhood where everything I need is within a mile), or just staying at home.

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Beginning in the late sixties, the conversation of land pollution became topical and we demanded our corporations stop dumping waste in landfills.  We also demanded they stop dumping waste in oceans, rivers and lakes.  Over the past few years, companies have been pushed to report the Carbon position.  If a company has not developed a statement regarding their carbon footprint and divulge a set of goals for reduction, they are truly behind the mark for being a strong corporate citizen and for being a viable and competitive corporation in this modern ago of the 4 R’s of sustainability (renew, reduce, reuse, recycle).

And then there’s the issue of water. When I first saw the documentary film Water at the Gaiam film festival in Boulder last summer, I thought, “Great, one more thing to think about.  Other films have entered the market, such as Flow (http://www.flowthefilm.com/) which addresses the huge environmental impact of corporations on our world-wide water supply.    This is a MUST see for those wishing to learn more about this issue.     

I look at my own company, Mohawk Industries and the tremendous efforts it takes to reduce the amount of water it takes to make a square foot of carpet. In fact, Mohawk succeeded in doing so by 50 percent between 1995 – 2003. During the severe water drought in Georgia last year, Mohawk made an even more conscious effort to create better ways to reuse the water and not draw from local reserves.

It’s our responsibility to take a stronger position with water that’s not just about water pollution (that position should be table stakes to any corporation in business in the world today), but more about ready and available sources.  It’s about a desire to reduce our TAKE from the total supply;  our responsibility to not draw water from sources which cannot be replenished or taken from communities who have no other source of clean available water and turn around and sell it back to them.  

This week in the Wall Street Journal, Alexandra Alter wrote an excellent article about looking at your “Water Footprint.”  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123483638138996305.html#.   Like carbon and electricity reduction, water reduction measures can save companies big dollars. Among other case examples, the article spotlights the $26 million annual savings Unilever PLC was able to realize as a result of their water reduction measures from 2001 to 2007.Next week, a consortium of consumer goods manufacturers are meeting in Miami to discuss water tracking and reduction issues.

I’m looking forward to what might result from this “meeting of the minds” and I will continue to write on the topic of Water as it is one that is vital for human – and now, business – survival.  In fact, in April of this year, I am hosting an event at the downtown Atlanta W Hotel along with Disney and Brita to address and educate patrons about Water concerns.  Meet me there.