Waterwise: Extending Civic Engagements for Co-creating more Sustainable Washing Futures
AbstractAs indicated in the introduction to this collection of interventions interrogating civic geographies, there are many definitions of ‘civic’ and by association, of ‘civic engagement’. However, there is general agreement that such terms most often refer to the connections between individuals and wider communities in the ways affairs are managed (Philo et al., this issue). Building on this, and as explored in this intervention, the practices surrounding household water consumption might be seen as inherently ‘civic’. Certainly, from the construction of aqueducts and wells in ancient Rome to more extensive infrastructural developments embodied in the initiation of mains water and waste water systems in the 19th Century, access to and use of water has been seen as a matter of civic responsibility. Yet, in many places water is becoming redefined as a private commodity and its use characterised as a commercial transaction between consumer and supplier (Gandy 2004). At the same time, water consumption practices, and in particular personal washing habits, are often hyper-privatised (Hand et al. 2005); performed behind closed doors and shower curtains. This manifold privatisation of water use means engendering debates about personal washing practices and their contribution to wider [un]sustainabilities is challenging.
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