Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 18, 2017

IWC students 'surviving' on 2.5 gallons of water per day

Feb 21, 2013


Mt. Pleasant News

Two-and-one-half gallons of water may or may not seem like an abundance, dependent upon your perspective.

However, when that amount of water is limited to a day’s usage, the perspective narrows considerably.

Students in Dr. Cyndi Walljasper’s Positive Psychology class at Iowa Wesleyan College are learning first-hand how precious water is this week.

It is water challenge week (Feb. 18-22) in Walljasper’s class and her 16 students are being limited to 2.5 gallons of water for their daily usage. Each morning, the students bring their containers and fill them up at 6 a.m. in the laundry room of the Howe Building on campus.

Off-campus students make arrangements for alternative water fills with approval from Walljasper, who is an associate professor of psychology at IWC.

So, this week students are seen walking to class with their water — one of the requirements is that the students carry their water with them at all times.

The daily allotment is the only source of water for the students and must be used for drinking, brushing teeth, cooking and bathing. The only exception is that students are allowed to use and flush the toilet.

Exceptions are being made to students in unusual circumstances or have health needs that may interfere with the project.

Some of the events of the week have reached Facebook. Students are to videotape their experiences before leaving to collect water, during the day while planning or using their limited water supply and each night.

Lindsey Scott, one of the ‘water toters,’ posted the following on Facebook.

“…The purpose of this project is to raise awareness to water conservation and how people in third-world countries get their water…I have to carry it (water) with me everywhere I go and make a video diary of myself using the water. For example, today I will have to wash at least six dishes using the water from my jug. Tomorrow, I will have to wash some of my clothes. I think this will be a challenging week because I am so used to not thinking about how much water I use. It is definitely going to be a long week. Wish all of us luck!”

Walljasper said she had students take on the project for three reasons. “First, examine the water issue through experimentation; second reflect on water’s impact on people’s lives (both their own and others); and third, promote awareness of what you learned to others and participate in making a difference through online dissemination and education to raise support to combat world water devastation.”

Students were also given daily tasks with their water. Following is the schedule:

Monday — Wash at least six dishes, and find out how many gallons of water it takes to flush a toilet.

Tuesday — Wash five items of clothing.

Wednesday — Cook a meal.

Thursday — Reuse your water for some purpose.

Friday — Limit your water to 1.5 gallons.

Senior Kayla Hesseltine said the project “has brought into reality how people live off limited resources. It is a challenge to live on 2.5 gallons of water a day. We are really spoiled.”

She said that the project already has been a learning experience. “I’m more conscious (about water usage). I will cut my showers down and shut off water while doing dishes.”

Allison Edmunds, a junior agreed with Hesseltine. “It is definitely a learning experience. I am starting to conserve electricity but shutting off lights when they are needed and I am much more aware of recycling.”

“Mirroring conditions that are reality for up to 800 million people worldwide, the students hope to understand life without access to an abundance of clean water,” Walljasper noted. “It is a good way to realize what we take for granted is to do without for a short time. So, by making water an inconvenient necessity, students had to focus on this basic need.

“This prompted realization and discussion of how lack of basic needs can limit our ability to meet other needs, such as education, relationships and simply free time for fun activities,” the professor continued. “Students became more appreciative of water. They are also learning first-hand that a nice side effect of helping others is that it actually helps yourself as well.”

The students’ video tapes will be used in a short documentary to be shown on World Water Day, March 22, at Main Street Cinemas.

Students (with jug in tow) will also approach area businesses to recruit participating restaurants for the UNICEF Tap Project clean water fund-raiser in March. Participating restaurants will ask patrons to donate $1 for a glass of tap water with their meals. The money collected will go to support water projects with UNICEF.


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