Report: 60 Million Gallons of Water Wasted Annually By Those Pretending to Wash Hands

By George Lubitz

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The EPA Office of Water released a report Monday about the average amount of water wasted solely from those who pretend they are washing their hands after using the restroom.

The report concluded that per year, an average of 60 million gallons of water are wasted by people who trick those within earshot of the bathroom by simply turning on the tap and letting the water run for a believable amount of time before shutting it off and leaving the restroom.

The report also suggested that 10 million sheets of paper towels are wasted by the same people who tear of a piece to use on their already-dry hands.

David Ross, assistant administrator for the Office of Water, noted in the report that “those responsible for waste are motivated enough by the social norm to wash one’s hands that they’ll let the water run for the time it takes to actually wash one’s hands” and “[will] even whistle a tune while falsely scrubbing.

Mr. Ross also stressed that the perpetrators will even go so far as to “shake their hands ‘dry’ while leaving the bathroom to complete the rouse. But,” he added, “they are lazy enough to not take the extra ounce of effort to actually wet their hands.”

The report further suggested that there was a behavioral link between those who waste water in this manner, those who raise their hands to their faces pre-sneeze but ultimately sneeze into the open air without covering their nose or mouth, and those who use entire pieces of fresh copy paper to write notes that could easily fit on a Post It.

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