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How Can People Be Effectively Persuaded to Conserve Water?

| Friday July 1st, 2011 | 4 Comments


Water. In most modern societies, residents don’t have to worry about where their supply comes from or if it may run out. But as recent extended droughts in Texas and other places have shown, we cannot afford to continue passing the buck to others when it comes to responsible water use.

But how, in a country where people are used to having what they want, when they want, as much as they want, do you make something that is as “invisible” as water become a priority in people’s minds.

Pay them.

Sao Paolo’s Banco Cyan is doing just that. Much like Recycle Bank has done with recycling, Banco Cyan treats your water usage – and lack of it – in a bank account like format. Starting a baseline average usage based on previous history, customers get points, which range from simply maintaining the current amount used, steadily increasing with reduction below that.

According to Springwise, those points are then turn into real world benefit, in the form of discounts at various partner businesses, such as Blockbuster, Americanas.com, and Submarino.

Banco Cyan is a collaboration between beverage company Ambev and water local water utility Sabesp. With companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi looking to reduce their water use and show themselves as responsible corporate citizens, perhaps they’re the one to initiate such a thing happening here?


Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.


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  • http://www.concepts4today.yolasite.com Cherie Moore

    This is a huge global problem with issues in so many areas. We have one simple solution to reducing waste of water and resources. The “Beverage Name Space” helps reduce waste in bottled waters and beverages. A Small Space with a Big Impact. The solution is identifying a consumer’s beverage easily. Given a convenient space designed into a beverage label or container the consumer is able to easily personalize and then finish their beverage. This reduces excess waste in our water, resources,
    environment and ensures beverage safety. This exciting packaging innovation is available for licensing.
    Cherie Moore

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shel-Horowitz/536574918 Shel Horowitz

    @Paul – I can think of a number of ways to reduce water use other than paying people to save (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s expensive). The first step is massive education, both that water is NOT a finite resource (I actually predict that, in the decades to come, it will become far more precious than oil)–and that there are are dozens of easy, free ways to save enormous amounts of water. As one easy example, if everyone in the US turned the water OFF while brushing teeth or washing dishes, millions of gallons would be saved. Then of course, at the building level, building in such features as rain collection and graywater recycling can go a long way.

    BTW, my little e-book, Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life-With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle, offers quite a few tips on water conservation. I’m currently giving it away (usually $9.95) at this address, http://painlessgreenbook.com/earthday ,with the promotion code, earthday

    –Shel Horowitz, Green And Practical/Green And Profitable

    • Paul Arthur Smith

      Shel you bring up some interesting points. Education and awareness building is definitely important, and incentives to go along with this shifted behavior will help it stick. To clarify, the program described isn’t paying out money – It’s giving customers discounts at participating businesses. So in that case, it minimizes expenses to the promotion of the program, while generating new business for those businesses.

  • http://www.yellowbluedesigns.com Jessica Janes

    This needs to be implemented everywhere. It is nearly impossible to change a person’s behavior, but if they can save money, then you get their attention. It is sort of what they do with trash collection in some areas. Hope it happens soon.