Findings from the Artesia and University of Manchester research project are published

Findings from the Artesia and University of Manchester research project are published

In conjunction with Artesia, and led by Cecilia Alda Vidal, a team from The University of Manchester Department of Geography and the Sustainable Consumption Institute examined water use in both indoor and outdoor domestic spaces, focusing on changes in personal routines and the implications of these for household water consumption at present as well as predictions for the future. The research involved evidence of changes in water demand, an assessment of news articles, reports and journal articles, and online focus group discussions with members of the public.

They found that people having to work from home has relocated water consumption from public spaces such as offices and gyms to the home. In addition, peak times of water use have changed, as people are have more flexible schedules, water-intensive routines such as showering are undertaken at different times throughout the day instead of first thing in the morning before commuting to their workplaces.

They also discovered that people adopted water-intensive practices at the start of the lockdown period in a bid to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection, which included the washing of groceries, more frequent cleaning of clothes and more intensive personal hygiene. However, most of these practices have faded as people have become accustomed to living with the virus.

Outdoor water consumption has also changed, with a huge rise attributed to increased usage of domestic gardens. These spaces became much more important to people during lockdown as they were unable to take part in leisure activities outside the home, and became vital for people’s mental health as their key connection with nature.

As lockdown restrictions have become less strict and leisure activities have restarted, gardens have continued to be important spaces for families and friends to gather safely without needing to go indoors. Interestingly, the research has also found a big increase in people growing their own food in their gardens.

This study highlights the importance of exploring further how the disruption of everyday life during events such as the pandemic provides an opportunity for households to change water consumption practices, and for the water sector to understand under which conditions more water sustainable futures are possible .

This project was undertaken as part of The University of Manchester’s Collaboration Labs programme, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund Accelerating Business Collaboration scheme).

The full report can be accessed here.

For more information, contact cecilia.aldavidal@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk

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