Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Earth to Whole Foods--How do You Spell D-R-O-U-G-H-T?

The District of Columbia is experiencing a drought with a rain deficit of almost 9 inches. But you'd hardly know it if you were visiting the local Whole Foods this morning. There, a worker was out power-washing the sidewalk.

A bright red pickup carrying a huge compressor was parked in front of the store with long lengths of hose running in both directions and water flying everywhere.

Perhaps Whole Foods is just trying to give a Bronx cheer to our neighbors in Virginia, where there's a 13-inch rain deficit at Dulles Airport. The nearby town of Purcellville in Loudon County, Virginia, where mandatory water restrictions are in place, could very soon run out of water altogether. The rain deficit in Central Virginia is more like 17 inches.

And in neighboring North Carolina, almost every county in the state is experiencing what is described as "extreme" drought, or worse. The City of Atlanta, GA, is in danger of watching its main source of water completely dry up.

It's a very bad time for the Mid-Atlantic. Here in the nation's capital, we are poised to break a record, having seen 33 consecutive days without measurable rainfall. Trees all over town are dying--turning crispy brown--for lack of water. Area farmers are desperate for rain. For many, there will be no pumpkin harvest this Halloween.

Which begs the question, Is anyone at Whole Foods watching the weather?

Over on the chain's corporate website, Whole Foods declares: "We see the necessity of active environmental stewardship so that the earth continues to flourish for generations to come. We seek to balance our needs with the needs of the rest of the planet through the following actions," including:

"Reducing waste and consumption of non-renewable resources. We promote and participate in recycling programs in our communities. We are committed to re-usable packaging, reduced packaging, and water and energy conservation.

"Encouraging environmentally sound cleaning and store maintenance programs." (emphasis added)

Makes you wonder how badly that sidewalk needed to be washed.


belmontmedina said...

That drives me insane. The PNC bank on 14th and P does it as well. If the sidewalk's so gross, SWEEP IT.

Miles said...

Unfortunately I think it's just a reflection of our national disconnect with nature. Whether it rains or not, there's still plenty of water flowing from the tap and fresh lettuce in the produce aisle. And if the water starts running out, whatever you do, don't ask people to sacrifice - just rip up environmental protections.

gregnorth said...

I walk to work from SW DC up 4th street to Pennsylvania and then over to around the White House, and there are many office buildings (old post office pavillion, ronald reagan building, wilson building, in front of the White House visitor's center,) as well as some other buildings in town I've noticed that do this. In California, where I come from, with the water issues out there, it's practically always banned to power-wash the sidewalk. I agree with belmontmedina -- BROOMS people!

me! said...

i totally agree, EXCEPT - someone puked on the sidewalk near the rosslyn metro/bus area a few weeks ago & it's still there. so i wish someone could take care of that...

rallycap said...

Never mind the drought. All that water, along with the trash, dirt, oil, and sludge ends up right in the river.

Send a letter to the store's management and the corporate office and ask them to rethink that policy.

They have brooms in the winter (when hosing would just create sheets of ice), so they certainly have them now.

Ed Bruske said...

bm, you're right. We need to drop the power tools and use some elbow greese.

Miles, the disconnect was precisely why I wrote this up. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, especially since Whole Foods presents itself as the enviro-grocer.

greg, maybe we should start taking names and numbers and out some of these water wasters.

Me!, people puking in Virginia? Could it be because of the lack of taste in architecture and absence of any urban design sense? Interesting blog you have there...

rallycap, apparently some folks haven't gotten the word that H20 is the next precious resource. Usually what I do vis a vis Whole Foods is send a little note to the corporate offices referencing the blog post.