Green for St. Patrick’s Day

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – March 15, 2012 – Comment

On March 17, “We’re all Irish for a day,” according to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee in New York City, home to the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration. They’ve been marching in New York City for 250 years (since before American Independence!), celebrating the patron Saint of Ireland.  In New York, it began on March 17, 1766, as Irish military units serving in the American colonies organized a celebration.  Today, the parade has grown to include more than 200,000 marchers, with more than 2 million people traditionally lining the streets of Fifth Avenue to watch the festivities. The parade has stayed true to its roots as a marchers’ parade – no floats or motorized vehicles are permitted.  Spectators and marchers alike will put on green apparel – paying homage to the green of the “Emerald Isle.”

While many will proudly wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, I have to admit that green is not my favorite color (I only have one “olive green” sweater and one shirt with a bit of green in it).  I’m more of a blue person.  But of course it’s blue that makes the Emerald Isle so “Emerald.” I’m speaking, of course, of water! Ireland is blessed with generally abundant rainfall – and that’s something to celebrate in itself!  Not all areas of the world (or even of the U.S) are so blessed.  Still, in this country we’ve developed water supply and treatment systems that provide our citizens with relatively easy access to clean water for drinking, irrigation, fire services, sanitation, and all of the myriad uses to which we put this precious resource. It wasn’t always so (New York City was already facing water supply and pollution issues when the parade first originated in the 18th century) and it won’t always be so, unless we reinvest in water infrastructure across the country. That’s an issue that is top of mind at American Water and at the top of our list of project priorities annually.

So save blue so that you can be green on St. Patrick’s Day!  Here are three ideas you can implement starting today:

Resist printing documents you can simply read on your computer; or if you must, print on both sides of the paper.  A single sheet of paper takes about 2.6 gallons to produce!

Recycle plastic beverage bottles which, these days, are being made into new bottles and containers, lumber, pipe, park benches, railroad ties and other useful items.  It’s estimated that 85% of plastic water bottles are thrown away – never recycled (but of course you wouldn’t have been drinking bottled water on St. Patrick’s Day in the first place!).

Regularly check your toilet, faucets and pipes for leaks, using American Water’s leak detection kits which can be downloaded from the Learning Center of our website at http://www.amwater.com/learning-center/wise-water-use.html.

One nice by-product of implementing these ideas is that they will save you money!  That’s the green that I don’t wear enough of!

So, honor St. Patrick and Ireland on March 17 by wearing green (I’ll be in my olive green sweater even though the forecast is for warm weather), but let it also signify (if only briefly) your love of the environment in general and water in particular.  If you need extra inducement on St. Patrick’s Day, let’s not forget that water is the primary ingredient in beer, among its other vital uses. Éirinn go brách!