Are Big Box Stores Doing Enough To Address Water Conservation?
|By Michael d'Estries in Climate Change, Conservation, Water | June 24, 2008|
A few weeks back, I wrote an article detailing my desire to pick up a rain barrel to save some water for my garden. Living in the Northeast makes one rather immune to all the issues experienced by those living in drought-prone areas — particularly the hard-hit Southwest.
I posed a question then to those living in these areas as to whether or not their “big box” stores* like Home Depot and Lowes carried rain water cachment systems. The general response was fairly negative — though some reasearch of my own has discovered efforts by these chains to offer some support; whether through instructions (Lowe’s instructions were great — but they’re gone now) on how to create rain barrels using in-store items or pre-assembled kits.
The problem, however, is that availability or support on this level varies from store to store. There isn’t a real company-wide initiative to stock or have on hand pre-assembled rain barrels. Try going to either Home Depot’s or Lowe’s online stores, type in “rain barrel”, and see what you get. Nothing. (Interestingly, go to Home Depot’s Canadian site, and you at least get the option to purchase a “Rain Barrel Pump”.)
Not stocking pre-assembled rain barrel kits is in my opinion a fault in the judgment of big box stores — especially in those areas where water conservation is championed on a daily basis. Most people I know are not DIY individuals — in fact, we’ve been raised to expect everything pre-assembled and ready to go. Patience for such projects is hard to find — and it would be much easier to plop fully functional barrel under a spout than spend an afternoon drilling, gluing, and placing A into B.
Plus, let’s be honest, people have a certain degree of aesthetics when it comes to how their homes look on the outside — especially in suburban America. Buying a garbage can and retrofitting it into a rain barrel might not pass muster with a majority of people bent on homes straight out of Better Homes and Gardens. The pre-assembled kits that are out there — or coming — are much more attractive. Personally, I could care less on the looks, but I’m assuming that I’m in the minority on that.
So, what to do? Well, if you live in those areas, try to pressure your stores into carrying more rain barrels for the masses. That, or shop locally. I’ve found many local stores carrying rain barrels where other chains will not. But in terms of pushing water conservation to the masses, it’s your Lowes and Home Depots that ultimately may have the largest impact. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another year of drought to communicate that idea.
* Not to just pick on Home Depot and Lowes, Walmart and Target also do not carry said product.