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The etiquette of #DroughtShaming

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Amanda Tipton/Flickr

What do you do when you catch a water waster in the act? Do you walk on by? Do you gently remind them that California is in the midst of a devastating drought? Or do you tweet a picture of the guilty party and shame them from the safety of the internet?

What do you do when you catch a water-waster in the act? Do you walk on by? Do you gently remind them that California is in the midst of a devastating drought? Or do you tweet a picture of the guilty party and shame them from the safety of the internet?

If you want to inspire a positive change in your neighborhood, modern etiquette expert Amy Alkon has some tips. She shared her suggestions with AirTalk:

  • Be constructive when pointing out water waste. Starting the conversation by saying “You probably didn’t know …” will help prevent a defensive reaction.
  • Print out an article about the drought to share with your neighbor. Not everybody is aware of how serious the drought is.
  • Check your motivations. The most effective conversations are motivated by compassion. Your neighbors are likely to realize if your motives aren’t pure, and that could harm your relationship indefinitely.
  • Write a nice note. It’s okay to be afraid of a potentially awkward conversation. Writing a note will give you a chance to choose your words as well as give your neighbors a chance to plan their response.
  • Build a neighborly relationship. This approach requires a bit more effort. If you’ve never spoken to your neighbors before, you probably don’t want your first interaction to be over water waste.
  • Post water-saving suggestions for the entire neighborhood in a common area. Community bulletin boards or telephone poles are a great place to start. This way, nobody has to feel singled-out.
  • Use a web translator. As neighborhoods continue to become more diverse, language barriers are bound to arise. If you don’t trust the internet, and you’re really determined, there are plenty human translators on sites like Fiverr or even Fourerr.


If all else fails, you can report water waste to the DWP here.

Press the play button above to hear our roundtable discussion about drought etiquette.

Guests:

Amy Alkon, etiquette expert and author of the book, “Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck”

Kerry Cavanaugh, editorial writer for the LA Times

writer and former-ethicist, New York Times  

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