Starbucks is always a great place for people watching, but the location at the Commons in Calabasas is especially good for celebrity watching. I’m really more of a Peet’s person, but since this Starbucks is just across the freeway from ValleyCrest Corporate headquarters, I make an exception when I’m at the office. I have seen many celebrities at the Starbucks, but you can imagine my surprise when I walked in and saw Britney Spears sitting with Brad Pitt. If you’re a fan of ValleyCrestTakesOn you know my passion for water management, and I am always looking for a celebrity endorsement for the blog. (All of the good water websites seem to have them these days.) So I ordered my coffee and not wanting to miss out on an opportunity I grabbed the table next to theirs and waited for my moment to ask them about water management (I am a blast at parties).
Richard Restuccia: I notice you’re both enjoying coffee this morning. How much water do you think it takes to make one cup?
Britney Spears: One cup of coffee takes one cup of water. Who do you think I am, Jessica Simpson? I can do math.
Brad Pitt: Great question Rich, is it okay if I call you Rich?
RR: Rich is great.
BP: I’m actually drinking tea but I’m curious to hear your answer.
RR: It takes 36 gallons of water to make one cup of coffee, when you include the water needed to grow the beans. Brad, tea takes a little less, about 29 gallons of water per cup.
BS: Oh gosh, that’s a lot more than I expected. But why does it matter?
RR: Britney do you have any idea of the water situation in the world right now?
BS: What do you mean “the water situation”? There’s like 15 bottles of it over there and nobody even wants it. They’re all here for coffee. Besides that, all of my pools are full and the oceans are full, so I’d say the situation’s pretty good, right?
RR: Well, not really. More than one in six people lack access to safe drinking water. 4500 babies are dying everyday as a result of unclean or no water. By 2040 there’s going to be 9 billion people on the planet and we need to figure out better ways to provide water to all of them.
RR: How much fresh water is out there for us to use?
BP: Depends on where you are…not nearly enough in Africa, but too much in New Orleans.
RR: That’s true. 70% of the planet is covered in water with fresh water making up only 2.5% of water on the planet. The remaining 97% of the earth’s water is salt water. Since about 1.6% of fresh water is trapped in polar ice caps and glaciers, the answer is really less than 1%.
BS: It rains like all the time where I’m from in Louisiana. So why can’t we just share with places that don’t get much rain? I mean, come on over, bring a bucket ya’ll.
RR: That’s a great point and brings me to my next question…why should people in the US who have plenty of water today care about water? I think the answer is we are going to have to move water from areas with plentiful water to places where water is scarce. It’s going to be expensive to pipe water from one place to another, but as the price of water goes up this will become more feasible. Imagine if all the oil in Texas just stayed in Texas.
BP: I have seen some amazing projects done, but piping water uphill doesn’t seem smart or sustainable. Are you familiar with my Make It Right NOLA organization? At Make it Right we are helping to rebuild 150 homes in the lower 9th ward in New Orleans, all of which are sustainable and LEED certified. You should check out some of the things we are doing there for stormwater management like green roofs, rainwater harvesting, pervious concrete, raingardens and porous streetscape.
RR: Brad, I really think the things you are doing in New Orleans are tremendous. Your conservation efforts are helping keep water safe and accessible for future generations. Do you think we’re using more or less water today than we did in the past?
BP: My guess is we are using more water today than we did in the past.
BS: Why would we be using more water now than before? When I was little I used to play on my Slip & Slide alllll the time and now I never let my boys play on that thing. It’s dangerous. So we use less water at my house.
RR: Water use actually leveled off around 1980 even though there are lots more people in the world. The really good news is per person in the U.S. we are using around 123 gallons per day* which is down from around 200 gallons per day 10 years ago.
RR: What do you think is going to be the next big issue in the world?
BS: Shoplifting. All the big stars are doing it, so it must be a serious trend.
BP: Wow there are so many major things going on right now. Back in 2005 I narrated “RX for Survival – A Global Health Challenge” which focused on diseases and children. I would say that was and continues to be a big issue.
BS: Oh yeah! Sick kids is a seriously big deal. Jayden swallowed a bunch of pool water last week and he’s been really sick ever since.
RR: That brings up an interesting point, Britney. Did you know your pool water is filtered and chlorinated just like drinking water is? That doesn’t mean it’s good to drink but it’s still far cleaner than what kids around the world drink on a daily basis to stay alive.
BP: Don’t tell my kids that pool water is filtered like drinking water, they’ll all be grabbing cups to try it. We just sold our house in Malibu to Ellen and Portia, so I guess Angie and I don’t have to worry about the kids chugging the pool water. But we’ll have bigger concerns at our next house, which will have a waterfall running through it that provides electricity to the whole house so we can be off the grid.
BS: Oh my gosh that’s so cool! I should put a waterfall in my house.
RR: Brad, it sounds like you’re really serious about sustainability. Water and sustainability are getting to be some of the most talked about subjects today. We have even started to see a few movies about water being made. What do you think of the new movie “Last stop at the Oasis?”
BP: I believe I saw Last Stop at the Oasis at the Toronto Film Festival last year. As far as movies go Lion King was more entertaining, but Last Stop is a decent documentary with great production values and good music.
BS: I heard the movie is effluent. Or effervescent. Whatever. Isn’t Erin Brockovich in that?
When I go out without my glasses I don’t see very well so you can imagine my surprise when I put my glasses on in Starbucks and discovered I was actually talking with fellow bloggers Martha Golea and Alan Harris. They are very informed, interesting and funny when it comes to water, and as always, they enjoy having fun at my expense. I hope you enjoyed the discussion as much as I did. I wish you all a very happy April fool’s day.
*(Brushing teeth (water running) 1-2 gallons, flushing toilet 5-7 gallons, washing dishes in dishwasher 9-12 gallons, washing dishes by hand 20 gallons, shaving (water running) 10-15 gallons, shower 15-30 gallons.)