Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This will be short because I'm on my iPod, but I just wanted to say that the other day I felt really convicted about water usage. It's one of those good-for-the-Earth things I've kind of ignored because I like long hot showers. But I was reading the latest National Geographic issue the other day and it's all about water. It said women around the world often have to walk almost 4 miles per day to get water. This wasn't new to me, it just made more of an impact this time.

I was thinking how American women have to run four miles per day (& then take a shower) to rid ourselves of our over-consumption.

So: confession. I don't shower every day anyway. But when I do I usually take a long shower. So it's my goal to at least start taking shorter showers (maybe I'll time them), and not run the water while washing my hands.

My hubby, who gets understandably tired of me bringing up more and more causes, said it doesn't do any good because we have so much water here that it's not like conserving it will help people around the world, so maybe this is just an act of solidarity. But maybe if we all conserve water there will be enough to go around.

Any other water-saving tips out there?


Marshall Massey said...

Are you using a low-flow showerhead? If not, head on down to your local hardware, or Target, or whatever, and buy one. It will save more water than shorter showers will!

Reducing water consumption, even in the Pacific Northwest, is a good move. Less water consumption means less lowering of the water tables, and also less diversion of the river water needed by aquatic species.

jlr said...

put a bucket in the shower with you. use the grey water it collects while you shower to flush your toilet.

Bethany said...

I'm a little surprised I haven't seen a home version of the best water-saving device we have on our boat--a manual pump. Again and again we've read that nothing helps you conserve water better (well, besides the incentive of being surrounded by salt water with no fresh source for days) than having to do a little work for your water. Manual pumps can get annoying when trying to wash both hands so we hope to eventually get a foot pump instead, but I wonder how the theory could be put to work at home.

If I had to carry water in buckets from the outside spigot for a week, say, I think I'd become way more aware of areas of waste. It's amazing how far our family of four can stretch our 10 gallon tank when out on an extended trip (fyi, we are no longer daily showerers either), but get us home where water gushes freely and we could go through that in an hour!

Thanks for being open about your process. Please share what you find to be helpful as you work toward a smaller footprint.

Aimee said...

I don't think I've ever been a daily shower taker - but I guess I make up for that by taking longer ones.

I've been convicted about water usage lately too. We put rain barrels under our gutters and use those to water plants.

Now I've got my eye on all the perfectly good water that goes down the drains (from the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, and washing machine). I'm making plans for how to collect all that water for using out in the garden.

A friend of ours just installed this cool diverter thing in her bathroom. The sink and tub drains can drain to the sewer, or, with the twist of a knob, flow to the outside for re-use!

Oh, another huge water waster is the toilet. If you replace yours someday, get a low-flow or dual flush. In the meantime, if it's yellow let it mellow.... =)

Peggy Senger Parsons said...

You husband is correct in the most direct way. And we are not drawing from an aquifer here.

But if you give the money you save on heating the water in the longer showers (or better shower head) to Del Livingston's water project then saving water here will give them water there.

Robin M. said...

Minimalist water saving: use the water left in your reusable water bottle at the end of each day to water your house plants.

Get a tankless water heater - that heats the water just before it comes out of the showerhead and you'll waste less water running it while you wait for the water to heat up. Or just get in while it's cold and feel the joy when it gets hot.

The graph on the back of the National Geographic map was eye opening as well to learn how much water it takes to produce various items. I knew that beef was wasteful but I had no idea about figs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cherice!

The cultural persuasion you were born into -- Quakerism -- is on the right side of this issue since Quakers don't believe in water baptizing ;-)

We stopped watering our lawn a few years ago.

I seldom wash our cars — mine currently has moss growing on it! Most car washes recycle their water.

Before you were born my great aunts kept pans in the sink to catch water before it went down the drain, then poured it on the flower beds outside the back door. Probably a throwback to hand pumping water much of their lives. (Nod to Bethany's comment above.)

I've heard California wants to divert water from the Columbia River. Oppose it!

Reducing population would help immensely, but that's apparently not likely to happen, so maybe we'll have to look to desalinization plants for an ultimate solution (when conservation has maxed out its potential to reduce demand). Support desalinization development worldwide.

Don't switch to a tankless water heater to reduce water consumption unless you and all in your household have iron wills ... we got one a few years ago and I must confess I sometimes take *longer* showers when I'm cold/worn out than I did with our old tank heater ... although I probably go longer than you do between showers. (And the winner is .. sniff sniff ... Steve!)

Short hair saves water -- less wash/rinse time. Thinning hair saves water too ... I'm ahead of you on that one.

I only wear clothes that will survive a normal wash/dry cycle which reduces water/energy consumption (washer on lowest water level setting for the load). Wear clothes longer between washes. Don't use "extra rinse."

There's always the ol' brick in the toilet tank trick.

Lowering consumption of everything saves water, and buying local, bicycling/walking, making gifts instead of buying them, live close to where you work, yada yada. You're already doing a lot to minimize your impact on Mother Earth ... kudos!



Anonymous said...

My shower ritual.

Hold up five gallon bucket to shower head and catch water while it is getting warmed up. Put down the bucket, get wet, get wash clothe wet, then turn off the shower. There is a ten gallon bucket under the shower head catching water during the shower, since the five gallon bucket is almost full after the warm-up. Wash body and hair. Turn shower on to rinse off. Okay, this is the tricky part, because you never really know where the temp is going to at when you turn the water back on and you don't want to stand to the side because your body won't devert water into the ten gallon bucket if you do. Unless you're really good or lucky, the initial hit is usually pretting exciting.

Good for earth. Good for water bill. Saves time. I don't hang out in the shower. Down part: I used to do some great pondering in the shower.

But you need to be sure to wash out the buckets from time to time, or they start to get looking sort of raunchy.

Do this for a while and it becomes normal. Miriam does this, too, but she refuses to turn the shower off once she's turned it on.

Remind us to up your part of the water bill. :) I didn't know you liked to take long showers, but I do know Joel does.