UCLA water break prompts sticker shop owners to act

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This summer’s water main break at UCLA felt like a punch in the gut for a few reasons. Recall the way it looked, a geyser spurting hundreds of feet up into the air. Firefighters and first responders watched it on scene, powerless to do anything but wait for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to turn the water off. UCLA car owners stood helplessly by. Pauley Pavilion enthusiasts grimaced as water ruined the wood floors irretrievably. 

The rest of us got news reports at home. Including Richard and Hilary Kraft, siblings who own Sticker Planet, purveyors of “anything that sticks” in the Original Farmer’s Market at Third and Fairfax.

Hilary’s a Bruin twice over, with an undergraduate degree from UCLA and another from the Anderson School of Management. She worried about people she knew. She and her brother both worried about the loss of water.

“We try so hard to save water,” Richard says. “It was incredibly disheartening. I saw that water spilling and I thought, I wish there was some way to get that water back, I wish there was some way to reverse this.”

Their idea: a website, a place for the public to pledge conservation efforts. A menu offers you circumstances in which you can change your behavior.  Installing low flow shower heads, or watering your yard one less day a week. Turning off the water while you shave can save 10 gallons of water a day.

“Small actions taken by many people over time, add up to a big impact,” says Richard.  “When they pledge to those actions, the water saved goes into the bucket that we’re collecting on line.

“Our goal is to make up or make back to 20 million gallons lost in the spill.” They’re just gaining steam: right now, over 50 people have pledged to conserve over 250,000 gallons of water.

But it’s not just about saving water for the Krafts, who say they’re trying to encourage people to think differently, particularly about slow-moving problems like drought.

“People usually respond to acute crises. Otherwise people feel powerless to deal with things like climate change, global warming,” Hilary says. “This shows them in an acute way how they really can make a difference.”

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