Forum: Higher water use: Don't blame maids

I wish to suggest a very different reading of the results of the survey of household water consumption by national water agency PUB (Homes with maids use more water: Survey, March 10).

Given that households that employ domestic workers used more water than those that did not, the conclusion in the report was that domestic workers should receive training on how to conserve water.

This places the responsibility for excessive water use on the workers rather than their employers.

One obvious reason for the disparity in water use is that domestic workers tend to be employed by wealthier households, and it is this factor that primarily explains their heavier water use.

If toilets are washed and floors are mopped over three times as often in households where domestic workers are employed, that is surely the decision of the workers' employers, not the workers themselves.

Likewise, the impulse to eat more meals at home in such households is due to employers deciding to make use of the labour they have hired, rather than the workers taking it into their own heads to cook more meals.

In general, people who have low incomes tend to think more about economising on expenses, and might make a greater effort to keep their water consumption in check than those for whom a few dollars more on a water bill may seem like money well spent.

It should also be highlighted that many people employ domestic workers to assist in child or elderly care at home, which may contribute to their higher water use.

Domestic workers certainly ought to be included in green initiatives in Singapore - not just in water efficiency, but also in recycling and reducing waste.

However, this should not be done in a spirit of blaming domestic workers for practices for which they generally do not have the primary responsibility, but be seen as a matter of cooperation for the common good.

John Gee

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