Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Zzzz...zzzz... huh? Wha?

I'm so tired today, I can barely see straight. Of course, tis the season to be merry... but it's not really fair to have a season when everyone has to be merry if you're not going to follow it up with a season to be lazy. Just the opposite - January is the season to be proactive and change your life. After all that merriment? You must be joking...

I know that the first thing to go when I'm feeling this way is my dedication to the environment. This morning I let the shower run hot without saving the water and ran the dishwasher without completely filling it because I didn't want dirty dishes in my sink while I was cooking. It's funny, when I do these things, I feel like I have to say something because I never want to misrepresent myself as a person just buzzing around all the time shutting off faucets and fixing leaks. Truth is, I still don't have all my Christmas shopping done and I resent not being given an award just for putting in the effort to send Holiday cards. I don't know if you would call me lazy, but I truly believe that that the world I live in spins a lot faster for me than some other people who seem to get a lot more done in their daily lives.

If the water saving thing feels like too much work, then just be lazy and pick one thing that you do that saves water. Like not rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Or timing your shower so that you're in there for less time. Just one thing. It's okay to be lazy... jeez, join the club. But while you're thinking about your New Year's resolution, consider one that lets you still eat cake and ice cream.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Two Trips to Starbucks...

As you know, I don't generally talk about all the things you can buy to make your home more water efficient, because, let's face it - if we could all just gut our houses and start all over with low flow from top to bottom, I would just live my life without jabbering on and on about this stuff. But today is different. Today, I'm gonna ask: got $25 bucks?

No, not for me, dude! Turns out, according to Water Missions, if you can spare just $25 bucks, you can provide clean water for a family. Water For People is another organization that will turn your money into access to clean water. Both of these charities got charity navigator's highest rating, which is why I'm listing them first. There's also The Water Project (it's listed on Guidestar, but honestly, I don't know what that means in terms of rating the charity. If you find out, let me know) which claims that a $10 donation is enough to ensure one person clean water for 10 years. Friggin ten years for the cost of, what, like two Venti Carmel Macchiatos? I mean, I don't want to get all Sally Struthers on you, so I'll just say this... that's messed up.

When I started poking around to see if I could give money to get clean water to someone, I totally figured that my blog entry would be about how we should all pool our money to ensure that a family could have clean water. So when I found this out, a big part of me was really happy. But another part of me is kind of depressed. Why is this even a problem in the world??????????????????????????????????????

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Waiting Place

I'm running late according to my little personal schedule... that's the only way anything happens in my life. So I decided I would just put a link. Now I feel sick about what I just read. So, herein lies a dilemma. Do I post this depression inducing article full of statistics you don't want to hear and risk you not reading this blog because I'm the biggest Debbie Downer (One of the funniest sketches ever on SNL - the actors can't hold it together) you've ever met in your life. So, before I post, I will tell you about what I've been thinking lately about, well, all the c-r-a-p (I spell so the kids won't know I'm using a bad word) that's going on, well, everywhere you turn.

The only way any problem is going to get fixed is if ordinary people get it done. Pick something that you make an effort to do every day - save energy, conserve water, reduce waste... whatever - it will become more important to you. When it becomes more important to you, you will encourage other people to do it. When you encourage other people to do it, it becomes important to the broader population. Don't wait for legislation on water conservation - the government is not going to get this done for us. Don't wait for a leader. YOU lead. I'm not talking about using a soapbox, I'm talking about when you're using a bar of soap (Hey, looky there!) Trust me, if your going to the trouble to think about how much water you use, or unplugging your appliances at night (btw, you are using energy if your appliances are plugged in, even if everything is "off" - something like 70 percent of the energy used in a house is used while electronics are "off", just because they're plugged in. I'll look it up with a more exact figure) you will begin to want other people to do it too. It will become important to you. Just like when Seinfeld wanted Newman to try the dental floss he was using. We get into the things we do and that's how it spreads around.

Okay, bring it full circle Karen... back to the depressing link. Children are dying because they do not have access to clean water. Children like mine and yours. 36 states face impending water shortages. Are we really going to wait for leaders to tell us this is a problem? Believe me, I've been one of those people waiting for Obama to take office, waiting for health care reform, waiting for Copenhagen... and where has it gotten for me. Even my son can recall Dr. Seuss' "waiting place" (Oh, The Places You'll Go) and know that that's not where you want to be in life. As ordinary people, living our lives, we can do SO much more than anything any government can accomplish. They are making all of these choices based on what they THINK we're willing to live with. But we have to show them how we ARE living. Save water, save energy, reduce waste... they'll catch up.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Would Brian Boitano Do?

Am I dating myself by making a reference to the very first South Park episode? I'm not talking about first episode on television, I'm talking about the VERY first episode. The one on the VIDEO (yes, video) tape that circulated and go so much attention that it launched the television show. I think it was a Christmas theme... YES, because I seem to remember that Santa and Jesus were putting up their dukes over who's holiday it was. Ah, yes... it was really funny. Anyway, somehow, the kids were trying to figure out what to do, or something (hey, it was like, thirteen years ago, so I'm a little foggy on the details...) and suddenly someone says, "What would Brian Boitano do?" (He's an ICE SKATER, young'uns!) Remember, y'all? And it became a joke, you know? Can't decide which sweater to get? "What would Brian Boitano do?" Don't know whether to get kung pao or lo mein? "What would Brian Boitano do?" Don't know if you should go to graduate school or waste your life wondering if you should have ever gone to graduate school? "What would Brian Boitano do?"

Okay, so right now, you're like, okay, maybe the ice skating thing is going to relate back to water... what we should melt all the ice so we can use it to give our dogs a bath? What, Karen??? Well, actually, no. I'm remembering this because this morning I actually am having trouble making a decision: Should I tell the powers that be at my son's nursery school that I don't think that they should have bottled water and instead use one of the 10 Britas that they use in the classrooms when we have a party. Then I thought, "What would Brian Boitano do?"

Well, I don't know Brian Boitano (If you do, please write), but if he's anything like me, he would wait and wait and wait for the exact right opportunity and the somehow make this really awkward presentation that would be very repetitive and half-assed so as not to alienate everyone or make anyone mistake the interaction for face-to-face conflict. That's me. I'm a chicken when it comes to just giving the straight dope and just end up feeling like Seinfeld once said - a dope giving it straight (I know, another 90's reference. Good times...) But damnit, I don't think Brian Bitano got a gold metal in 1988 by sitting on his butt and thinking about it. I think he would march (or skate) right up to the school and say that instead of getting this generation used to drinking bottled water, we should do our part to show them that this is not good for the environment - not good for the future of their planet - and use the pitchers from the classrooms. Whew! Brian, you're one gutsy guy.

Why am I so mousey when it comes to doing things like that. Okay, maybe I fear that I will never be invited to my friends houses again because I time their showers. Or maybe I think that my parents will leave me to be raised by wolves if I tell them not to flush every single time (Can they still do that now that I'm almost 40!?!?!) Well, for all of you out there who have been irritated by me getting in your face about the size of the ice cubes you use, please know, it's just because I care. I'm sure Al Gore has annoyed his share of people. I'm sure the guy can't go anywhere without letting out a few tisks. This is the only way to get this done.

Okay. Once again, Brian Boitano has pushed me into making a decision. I'm going for the gold... Then I'm going for an orange smoothie. Get it?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shout outs

Yesterday, while in my son's bathroom, I noticed that there was a razor on the shelf (don't worry, it was high above my three year old's reach). Of course, at first, I rolled my eyes, thinking, (begin reading in a fast, high pitched, whiny ramble for the sake of authenticity) "What is this doing here? So ridiculous how I'm the one that has to put everything back in its rightful..." Then I realized something: my husband has been remembering to shave in the second bathroom. Why? Because it has a pluggable drain. This way he doesn't wast water letting it run and run while he shaves ten years off his face (no beard makes him look younger... heheheh). Ohhhh... Awesome honey!

I also want to do a shout out to my kid's teacher, who told me that they will start watering the class plant with the water left in their cups. I don't know that this will keep the kids from actually turning off or turning down the faucet, but I think that it's important just to have the expression "save water" in their heads. I mean, my kid knows that when he comes in the house, he has to take off his shoes and put them in the closet. He knows that if he wants something, he has to say please. Of course, we're still working on a few things - say, getting a tissue when you've got snot running down your face... why aren't kids bothered by a stream of mucus above their lip??? But the point is that these are all things that we started him doing early. So why not water conservation? Maybe, since it hasn't been on my generation's agenda our whole lives, that we don't necessarily think to make it a priority for our kids. But we have to get them ready for the world that they live in, where water shortages are becoming more and more common. So from now on, it's look both ways before you cross, don't talk to strangers and SAVE WATER!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Drip Tips

I'm doing a little cross promotion today, but I've been writing for this series of interstitials called What You Can Do - which lets viewers know what they can do to tackle a particular issue in one minute. Well, of course there was one dedicated to water conservation. I didn't write it, but it lists many of the things that I've talked about on this blog. I did learn something new however: the EPA estimates that about one trillion gallons of water leaks from homes each year.

According to the EPA - as it is cited on the video - that's the amount of water used by Chicago, Miami and L.A. combined. WHAT? Now, let me just say that I don't own a home, so maybe I'm being a little to judgemental, but come on homeowners! Don't you have a dusty old tool cabinet in your garage with some metal thingamabobs to fix stuff? It's time to strap on some overalls, pick up a wrench and start tightening stuff. Don't know how? Umm... neither do I. Here is EHow's how to fix a leaky faucet (and ladies, the guy is totally cute, so don't be afraid to insist on making this your project) and how to fix a leaky pipe.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Polar Express

Last night I was on the way home from my writers' group. There I had been, thinking about how nice it was to sit in a room with a bunch of other playwrights and discuss each other's work. No one HAD to be there, and the world wasn't going to depend on the outcome of the meeting. As seriously as we all take writing, it was nice to just be there simply because we enjoy it. Then I get in my car and turn on the radio...

The radio program was in the middle of an interview with Richard Ellis about his book On Thin Ice: The Changing World of the Polar Bear. Okay, I thought, polar bears... yeah, I know all about them. Ice caps are melting... water is warming... but we're fixing it and we're making it better. Hybrid cars, wind power, recycling... we're on it, right? Well, the way I understood it in this interview was that the cycle of the ice caps melting is such that once, say, part of the ice caps melt, more sunlight hits the water. When more sun hits the water, the water warms and more ice caps melt. More sunlight hits the water and on and on. So, as Ellis says, even if all the bad stuff stopped tomorrow, this process is unstoppable.

I know... it kind of makes you want to go eat some chocolate or do a facial mask or something just to make yourself feel better. I know I wanted to go back to my playwright buds and pretend that the worst problem in my life was that my dialogue didn't ring true.

But my thing is water... so why am I putting all this on my shoulders? Because I don't want to get to the point when there is nothing we can do about this problem of decreasing water supply. I don't want to sit around and wait for some nerd to develop a desalination machine just like I thought that someone would build an underwater air conditioner for the North Pole. I don't want to be turning on the radio in 20 years - this time on my way home from opening night of my off-b'way play, of course - and hear some dude tell me that the water crisis is unstoppable. Or worse, I don't want my KID turning on the radio and hear this problem is unstoppable and then think, "jeez, my parent's generation is the biggest bunch of jackasses for not taking care of this problem when there was still time to fix it." (No comment as to whether that's the thought I had).

Okay, so this is a preachy entry. Tomorrow I promise to write the blog equivalent of a fart joke about saving water in my house. But, for now, I felt like I needed to write some dialogue that rang true.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

About Your Pot...

Is there any reason to use a gallon of water to rinse off the soap on the outside of a pot when you're hand washing dishes? I mean, why not just use a dry towel to wipe it off. It's not like food is touching that part. I feel like Jack Handy right now, but really, come on...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Back in the Groove

How much attention should I give to the fact that I have not blogged for more than a month and then suddenly yesterday, appeared out of nowhere? How much thought should I even give it. I'm just wondering if anyone has been changing their habits and then suddenly, in the absence of this blog, decided, ah well, back to taking hour long showers and flushing the toilet every time I hock a lugie (Is that right? I've never had to spell that word before...).

Just so that you know, I have continued to be water conscious and tried to make a mental note every time I slipped up. I remember that I did buy one bottle of water in the airport on the way to New York for the holiday. I did bring our canteens, but as you know, they do not let you take any damn water though security. So while the prevent terrorism with what may be the dumbest security rule EVER, they are helping to dry up the earth and fill up the oceans with plastic. Well, it's a good thing we're not letting the terrorists hydrate! That'll show 'em!

While I was away from the blogosphere, I was actually also away from my home for part of the time. Being away from home is always interesting because I watch what other people are doing and desperately want to comment on little things done around the house to save water. I'm not sure why - maybe I'm just annoying in my approach, but I always find it interesting that I am met with such resistance. Is it guilt - like people don't even want to have to think about another thing that's doomed about the planet? Or is it that they think what I'm about to say is going to make what they do really difficult. I am willing to accept that maybe I'm not approaching it in the right way, but I have tried different ways. Any suggestions? Maybe put on an Al Gore mask? Or maybe wear a big bow in my hair and hold one of those large, colorful lolipops and talk like I'm a little kid so people think I'm cute. Or maybe I should just release some bees into the air... Hey, I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Potty Mouth

This isn't the first time that I've felt like a big fat dummy, but I would say that this is one of the most memorable ones. While staying with my sister in NYC, we were invited to her very close friend's place for dinner. As we're getting ready, my sis turns to me and says, "Hey, you'll be interested to talk to this guy, because he knows how to make the water go down the toilet without flushing it." Okay... So after everyone scrapes the last of this delicious meal off the plate, I turn to the husband and say, "Hey... can you tell me about how you flush the toilet?" I should mention I had spent the evening up to this point making normal dinner-conversation to build everyone's confidence in me as a completely non-psychotic houseguest, which may be the only reason that that this guy graciously let me follow him into his bathroom to demonstrate how to flush the toilet without, uh... well, flushing the toilet.

Here's the answer - get a pad an paper and write this down: pour water in the bowl.

Am I the only one that didn't know that if you pour a gob of water in the toilet bowl that the toilet will flush itself in order to not overflow? Am I? Come on, I can't be. Anyway, I looked at this guy the way the Munchkins looked at Dorothy when she dropped her house on the Wicked Witch.

Now, for those of you just joining us, (and for those of you who forgot), I've been wondering how to feel better about the gallons of grey water that gets sucked down the drain every other night when my son takes a bath. Ta-dah! I finally know what to do with it. I was a bit ambitious at first and insisted that my husband not drain the water in the bath, but as we were going to bed, I freaked out about the slimmest possibility of my son falling in the tub in the middle of the night (the bathroom is attached to his room with no lock on the outside). I know it's a longshot, but I'm a worrier and pictured him doing a jackknife off the soap dish while I was asleep. So, my latest venture is to collect the water in gallon milk cartons one by one and use it to flush the toilets.

Well, I may be the only one to not have known this trick already, but I'm glad I learned this easy way to save gallons and gallons of water. Thank you to my toilet genius friends!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Sometimes, I know exactly what I want to say, but when I sit down to write, I have to be honest, I start to get really shy. Why? Well, frankly, I don't want you to think I'm gross. Really, that's the reason. I mean, here I am talking about peeing in the shower, not flushing the toilet, using corn water, yadda yadda... I mean, I know that I am reaching some people who are going to hit a point when they're going to verp (vomit-burp) at the thought of doing some of this stuff. Which brings me to today's post...

My back has been KILLING me lately (that's not the gross part, I'm just getting started). It's all this sitting on my fanny, writing all day, I know, I know. So, before I start to look like the hunchback of Notre Dame, I have decided that I am going to take a daily hot bath. Not like ooh ahh hot, I'm talking let's-cook-a-chicken-in-it hot. (Still not the gross part). So I took a bath (NO I didn't use corn water, Jeez!) by first giving my son a bath, then sending him to bed and then filling up rest of the tub with only hot water and taking my bath in that water.

Okay, so are you gagging? Are you reaching for the power button on your computer and opting for the more savory CSI episode with bloody corpses? Well, excuse me for being the grossest person you ever knew, but first of all, my back - at least for the moment - feels pretty good. And this got me thinking, given that I fill the tub every other evening for my kid, I really can't see draining it for any reason. I could conceivable bathe myself this way every night. I looked up other ways of using it and it turns out that some people actually use this water for their hand washing, which I think is an awesome idea ("Hey paw! Fetch that therrr washboard fu meh! I'm fixin to do a warrrrsh!") But the best idea I came across was using it to flush the toilet. eHow explains that you can dump the water in your toilet tank when you flush, but more sources are saying that you can pour the water directly in the bowl. Can someone out there explain this to me like they're talking to someone who say "potty" and not "toilet" because I don't get it. Wouldn't that just overflow the bowl. I really want to do this.

Okay, so the lesson in all this - Karen bathed in water that other people are using in their toilet. Great. I'm no longer afraid of you thinking that I'm gross. From now on, I'll just know that you do. Verp!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dear John

I want to thank my friend for passing along this adorable little short about saving water and saving me time - since I'm swamped and was not really sure what to write about today. Click here to watch!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How Ya Like Them Apples?

I went apple picking this weekend, so I was sans technology this past weekend. Despite having lived in the Big Apple for 12 years, I had never done it before. It was so much fun to sit with my family in the aisle between the granny smiths and the fujis and grab to our hearts content - every now and then trying to juggle a few. I noticed while I was at the hotel that I wasn't thinking too much about water when I realized I had kept the water running for the entire duration of my shower. I collected myself before brushing my teeth, so I'd like to think that my newfound focus is something that stays with me wherever I go. I know that my kid is on the right track, after going potty he asked me, "am I going to flush?" I told him no. Poor kid. He does so love flushing a toilet.

Before I get onto the topic of fruit - something I thought I would focus on today since I spent the weekend surrounded by it, not to mention occasionally getting hit in the head with a piece due to poor juggling skills - I want to update you on the coke bottles in my toilet tank. We are having a problem. (Of course, anyone reading this blog for the first time may think that having Coke Bottles in my toilet tank IS the problem. Hahaa!) They are not staying in place. So every now and then, they will float over to the thingamajig that opens to let the water run down - thereby wasting I-don't-even-want-to-think-about-how-many gallons of water until I notice. So I have taken them out. Has anyone else tried this method of saving water in your toilet and had this problem. Is there something I can get to make it stick? Anyone? Hello out there? Am I really going to have to go to home depot and ask them how I'm supposed to keep Coke Bottles from floating around in my toilet tank. Sigh... to be continued... back to our regularly scheduled fruit...

So, we have about a kabillion apples. My son has eaten half a kabillion already so we've already made quite a dent in the bag. THis has left me thinking a lot about washing fruit. Remember Mike Brady on the Brady Bunch? I remember that he used to grab an apple out of the kitchen and rub it on his chest a couple of times before taking a bite. I always wanted to do this, but my mother always insisted on washing the fruit before I ate it. I just didn't understand why. Of course, now I know it was probably because she didn't want me to end up glowing in the dark from all the pesticides. I have this same fear with my kid. Oh, how I worry about whatever is laying on top of that fruit. Of course, now we buy organic fruits and veggies. Occasionally, if there is no organic option, I buy what is available, but the majority is pesticide free. So, as I have been scrubbing these apples, watching the water run over them, I have been thinking about how necessary and effective this actually is.

You know that we are bombarded with way to much information when you Google "wash fruit" and you get thousands of results. To be honest with you, everything I have read so far says that you really should wash fruit. (Because you know I was looking for someone to say, don't bother!) But there is no doubt that running the water over any fruit wastes water. So here's what I'm thinking. One option is to take a bowl and soak the fruit. This way the water is not running and running and... you get the picture. But the other option is to get a fruit/veggie wash such as, well, Veggie Wash. For all of you go getters who's world rotates a little slower than mine and have the time to make your own, there are really simple recipes out there for all natural fruit and veggie washes, like the one at that is made of pretty basic ingredients.

If you look it up, there are sites that will tell you that you should even wash the fruit that have an inedible peel, because you get pesticides on your hands when you touch them and they can then get on the fruit. One way to solve this problem is to buy organic fruits and vegetables. Okay, so if you wash it and miss a spot, you could eat a speck of dirt or maybe a bug (gag!) But, if I'm really honest, I would rather eat that than one drop of pesticide, even if it's on a juicy red apple!

Friday, October 23, 2009


So, I'm sitting here and thinking about what to blog about and I realized that, thanks to my mother, I have a six pack of Diet Coke in my cabinet - all in plastic bottles. Now, in my opinion, it is healthier for you to shove a bottle of Diet Coke where the sun don't shine than drink it (click here and here for some information on what Diet Soda has been linked to). But I think I found an even better use for it - my toilet tank. Does it matter that there is Diet Coke in it? Seriously, can anyone tell me? I'm happy to pour it out and use water, but I just couldn't think of a reason why I should do that.

I have to admit that I flushed the toilet three times before I got it right - thereby wasting water - but I ended up putting three plastic bottles of Diet Coke in the tank. That's 1500 mL or about 3 pints or 48 Fl Oz. Uhhh, anyone know math? Should I just put the whole six pack in there?

Now that I'm writing this, I'm realizing that I have not yet taken the labels off of the Coke bottles, which I should probably do. I just got so excited! I have to admit, I'm a little nervous to flush with those things knocking around in there. I'll let you know if there's a problem. But so far, the world has not crumbled, and the tank filled up just fine.

Anyone else gonna give this a try?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Laundry Day

I could do laundry every single day if I had a washer dryer in my apartment. My building has a really nice laundry room with efficient machines - a room I treat like it's another room in my apartment. But it's not. I still have to take the cart downstairs and put quarters in. Am I the only one who feels like a major schmuck paying to do my own laundry? Hey, here's $10 bucks, now put me to work!

I fantasize about the washer dryer being in my apartment, in which case, I feel like I would do a load an hour. I could, you know. With all of our clothes -- my husbands workout clothes, my workout clothes (when I choose to work out), my son's clothes (sometimes two outfits a day, depending on what he eats and whether or not he decides to tell me when he has to go potty), sheets, towels and the occasional stuffed animal -- I could probably do a load a day. But for the reasons cited above, I don't. I have a laundry day.

Well, having laundry on the brain, I decided to see if there was anything that I could do differently to conserve water while schmucking my way to clean clothes. Turns out, the fact that I find laundry a pain in the rear has made my methods of doing laundry more water-conservation friendly. Why? Well, given that my lazy butt waits until a certain day in the week to do it, means that I have pile the size of Mount Yuckamuckastinky. Therefore, I end up - without OVER stuffing the machine mind you - put as much into the washer as I can while still ensuring that the clothes will actually get clean. This is because I want to consolidate the laundry into as FEW loads as possible. Why? Well, of course, this is because I HATE doing laundry.

To all you people who want everyone to smell Tide before you even round the corner, you might want to wait just an extra day or so to ensure that you are using your washing machine at its full capacity. This will use less water. Of course, you might also be the kind of person who likes to sort every article down to the lint on your socks. But, sorry to say that the lazies like me score another point with the earth. If you wash everything in cold (I do, because this means that you can throw everything in together) then you will save a ton of energy. Turns our that 90 percent of the energy used doing laundry is actually from heating up the water. And before you blame your detergent for needing hot water, there are brands, like Seventh Generation, that are specially made for doing laundry in cold water.

Hey, I'm clean, okay! Come over and take a whiff if you want. (Well, maybe not right now. It was very warm today...) Turns out, my sob story of not having a washer dryer in my apartment actually did some good for the earth. I'm not so jealous of all you with your fancy appliances in the house! (Lie...)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hypocratic Oath

Okay okay. So last night was not my best night. It was between watching a double feature of The Ring and The Blair Witch Project, or blogging about water. I thought if I picked the latter, I would actually be able to sleep last night. Guess not.

So tonight I am going to put on the original hat I wore when I started this thing and talk about another water saving tactic that I've read. But before I do just that, I want to make sure that we are all on the same page, so that no one ever calls me a hypocrite. I have not yet put a plastic bottle in my toilet tank yet. It takes two people and by golly, I just have not grabbed my husband to lend an extra pair of hands. I thought it might be helpful for all of you who have been trying to do this since I posted it, if I posted this video that shows you how to actually do this (sorry to everyone who actually just plunked a bottle of water in your toilet tank). This nugget also includes other things you can do to recycle two liter plastic bottles. Anyway, I have to get on this, but I literally am waiting for the next plastic bottle to cross my path (my husband is almost at the end of his weekly bottle of cranberry juice, but I think that might be too big). I'll find one.

My point is this, please know that I am always coming from a sincere place, even if these ideas are coming at me faster than I can keep up with them. The watering can plan hit a few snags before I actually got one. The point is, it is now a household constant. Believe me, if I'm not planning to do something I talk about, I'll tell you.

Anyway, I returned to that great site creative citizen for another idea on saving water and came across the idea of using hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands every single time you want to wash up. Of course, given the pig cooties going around, I know everyone is scrubbing their hands to the bone to ensure they don't get it. Well, I know the brand "clean well" makes a sanitizer that is all natural, so you don't have to feel like you're slathering your hands with plutonium before you eat your PB&J. Of course, this is another area where it will take me some time to switch, because I bought 1000 gallons of hand soap at Costco and have only used about 1/3rd of it since last year. Of course, that is because I add water to it, WHICH in turn saves water because you do not need as much water to rinse it off. So, my water nerd status is saved and for all of you who are about to make a run to the store for hand soap, consider getting sanitizer instead. It can be just as if not more effective than soap and - drum roll please - you would be saving a whopping 3,285 gallons of water.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Procrastination = Do-Gooding

I just wrote out a list of about a million things I have to do in the next couple of days and blogging is nowhere to be found on it. As I started to become paralyzed with incomprehension of how I'm going to get everything done, I made the decision to ignore the whole thing and logged on to this bastion of procrastination. What could be more important than this issue, anyway. Nothing on that list, that's for sure. (Except maybe the one about buying my son more socks. He really need socks desperately!!!)

One of my friends sent me another clip about dirty water -- lucky for you... because today's entry was GOING to be about how I soaked a big soup pot without turning on the faucet once. Admit it, you would have loved it...

Now, you know the situation is not good when Erin Brokovich shows up in your backyard at a hearing about the water in question. Here is a clip from the
Oakland Tribune article:
The poison in question is hexavalent chromium, also called hex chrome or chromium six, given notoriety in the film bearing Brockovich's name. Hex chrome is a carcinogen long known to cause cancer through inhalation but only recently recognized by the federal government as dangerous to drink. Before there was controversy over whether stomach acids converted the chemical into a related, nonpoisonous nutrient, researcher Gina Solomon said...

More than 30 million Californians in 500 communities are at risk of being exposed to far higher rates, Brockovich said.

The most at-risk areas in the state are near Los Angeles and along the Central Valley, Solomon said. The Bay Area is generally safer, though hex chrome has been found in dangerous levels further down the Highway 101 corridor nearer San Jose, she said...
I thought Julia Roberts fixed all of this! Now, I know that stories like this are what cause people to buy bottled water. But here's what the NRDC found:
However, our investigation has found that potentially harmful chemical contaminants are indeed sometimes found in some brands of bottled water. (The box at the end of this chapter highlights a particularly troubling example.) NRDC’s testing of more than 1,000 bottles of water (for about half of FDA-regulated contaminants; see the Technical Report [print report only]), found that at least one sample of 26 of the 103 bottled water brands tested (25 percent) contained chemical contaminants at levels above the strict, health-protective limits of California, the bottled water industry code, or other states[3a] (23 waters, or 22 percent, had at least one sample that violated enforceable state limits).
So, what the...? What are we supposed to do? Well, I turned to the site for the documentary Flow, which is the movie that sparked this crazy new fear of mine about the future of water. And they have a whole page dedicated to what you can do. Click here to find something that fits into your schedule and personal beliefs.
Hey all I was doing was procrastinating and I ended up signing a petition asking the UN to declare water a human right (it literally took a minute). Nothing on my list was THAT important!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Cup of Fire

This might be viewed as a bit of a cop-out post. But believe me, I've been sitting here thinking about how to introduce this article that my friend sent to me and have come up with nothing that will properly prepare you for what you are about to read. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Think Tank

I know I've mentioned this before, but I really have to do something about my toilets. (Admit it, you were just saying the same thing, right?) Did you know that your toilet guzzles the most water out of any appliance in your house? I didn't until recently. My toilets are in mint condition, but they were built before Fred Flintstone met Wilma. You know, back when people didn't use "water" and "world war three" in the same sentence. Anyway, every now and then I've come across this trick of putting a brick in the toilet tank so that it fills with less water, but I thought I would read a bit more about it before running to Home Depot. In doing so, I came across this great site that lists 10 ways to reuse plastic bottles (thx CM!)

Here's number six:

6. Toilet Tank Trick: Skip the brick in your toilet tank -- they can disintegrate and damage plumbing. Instead, drop a plastic bottle or two filled with water into your tank, and you'll displace enough water to save a half gallon to a gallon with every flush. Most toilets flush just fine with a little less water. Savings: Based on FPP ("Flushes Per Person"), a family of four might save 16 gallons of water a day with this little trick, which should save you about $90 a year on your water bill. Now come on, this seems like a really easy thing to do that requires little to no effort, so I hope some people join in giving this a try (not the garbage picking part). The water you save could be filling your bathtub, tea pot or your glass. Of course, now that I do not buy bottled water anymore, I have to seek out plastic bottles for this. Of course, we all know that I slip up every now and then (in fact, I had another farmer's market incident again and had to buy water to go with my kids tomale. But that's glass, which wouldn't work). But if you see someone bent over with her head in a public garbage can, it might be me looking for plastic bottles. Hey, it's for a good cause!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A New Whosamawhatsie for the Doohickey

Just when you thought everything was going to be okay because you turned off the faucet while brushing your teeth... I just read that 36 states in the US are anticipating water shortages by the year 2013.

I was thinking that my water saving techniques were getting a bit stale, so I thought I would look up some new ones, and I navigated to the Kohler website. I highly recommend it, because if you take this three question quiz and give your name, they will donate $1 in water-saving fixtures to Habitat for Humanity. An awesome idea. It takes all of about a minute.

I rent my apartment, so I am not able to do major work on the place, but I did watch a few of the videos on the Kohler site, and it mentioned that replacing the aerator on the sink faucets in the bathroom are a really easy way to save water. Duh! Why didn't I think of that. The only water-saving I had done today thus far was to tell my hubby to move his keester to the bathroom where he could stop up the drain (the drain in bathroom where he usually shaves does not seal up completely). As much as it's fun to get things done by ordering other people around, I think I can do my part and get MY keester over to the hardware store and buy one of those whosamawhatsies for the sink. You think they'll know what I mean?

Time's Up

Once again, I have read my blog after writing it and have decided to preempt what you are about to read with a lighthearted story, since the rest is, I dare say, is a snoozefest. My son often comments on the watering can in my bathroom (for anyone just joining us, the watering can is there to catch water that is wasted when I'm waiting for the shower to heat up so I don't freeze my patootie off). "What are you doing?" he often says to me while I hold the watering in the line of the shower stream. He often comments on it while going potty and picks it up and plays with it every chance he gets. Then, the other day, we arrived home and I told him to go potty as usual. As I waited for him in another room, I heard a loud, echoing stream of water. I had no idea what it could be. By the time I had arrived at the bathroom door, there was my little darling, pants down, pouring "liquid" into the toilet from the watering can. In short, he had peed in it.

So, the little one earned some points for creativity. And, on more than one occasion, when asked what he wants to do when he grows up, has told me that he wants to "pee standing up." I guess this was a dream come true for him. For that I couldn't be happier. But I think there are a few years before he fully grasps what it is we're trying to do in this house. Perhaps he thought that putting any liquid in the watering can would save water.

Okay, now for the blah part of the blaaahg...

Putting the time into a blog means facing the harsh reality that no one might actually read it. Then there is the even harsher reality that there might not be anyone acting on anything they do read. So, in an effort for this to mean something, I sometimes end up talking about it in a way that might put a bit more pressure on people than I mean to. Where is the line between being an informative, friendly person, and being a really irritating. I think tonight I might have inched a little to close to irritating. At a friends house, I found myself going on and on about how we should all slowly cut bottled water out of our lives. I have no idea how long I went on and on before my husband caressed my hand and said, "Hon, it's getting late."

A friend of mine, not too long ago commented on one of my blog entries, saying that she told her mother that she doesn't have to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Of course, her mother realized that the dishes still came out clean. I don't know if she shared that story with many people, but it seems to me that it would be difficult to relay it without sounding like either the most lifeless person on earth or some raving extremist. Let's face it, although I have to believe that this stuff makes a difference, it's not something that makes you sit on the edge of your seat. But, for anyone who is starting to do this stuff, make sure you tell other people who are willing to listen. I didn't know a lot of the information that I am finding out thanks to this blog, and I'm sure a lot of other people out there don't know about this stuff either. So what if not everyone listens. You'll eventually find someone who will.

I'm fortunate to have awesome friends who did listen and even made suggestions for this blog. My friends are smarter than me, so I have some reading to do before commenting on the scary water tales I heard from them. But next time, I think I will bring a stopwatch and have my husband say, "SO! How about Britney Spears? What's she up to these days." Of course, that will only work if she's not making a total ass of herself by wasting water. You never know with that girl.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Making Sense

My wallet was stollen last night. It's okay, these things happen. I wasn't hurt or mugged or even bothered, so that was nice of the robber. And really, I can't complain too much knowing that sometimes people are attacked for such things. But here's the kicker. This is the second friggin time in a matter of... maybe four months. The first time, the loser took it from the front seat of my car while I was vacuuming it (the car, not the wallet). This time, someone must have taken it from my bag while I was reading at a tea cafe. Sipping tea and crime don't mix! (Though I could see Kevin Spacey sip tea while playing a villain. I don't know why. But in all other cases, NO!) Anyway, neither time was I harmed or was anyone I know harmed. And that's all that matters.

What does this have to do with water. Well, in my frustration, I've been muttering to myself all day about how this just doesn't make any sense. Do I have "please steal stuff from me" written across my forehead? Or maybe it's more direct. "I'm a schmuck." So I was thinking about something else that makes no sense to me that I've been meaning to blog about for a while, but too many other things have been at the forefront of my mind. Not this time! Today is the day to talk about things that don't make sense. You know what doesn't make sense to me. Washing out your recyclables with clean water.

Now, I have to admit, I was going to talk about how it doesn't make sense to clean out your recyclables period. I mean, let's face it, it's glorified garbage, right? But then doing a little poking around before opening my big mouth to you all, I realized that there are people who have to sort through this stuff and not cleaning something out could make a person barf when the smell some week old remnants of chipotle bean dip. I HATE throwing up and could not live with myself knowing that I made someone throw up at work. So please, do wash out your recyclables. (For more on washing out recyclables go to ) However, I was thinking of all the used water used for soaking things, washing hands, washing fruit. If there is some way to save that in a bucket, then I think we should all start doing that. Then, if you have no recyclables to wash out, c'est la vie (Pardon, je ne spell francais).

Admit it. We've all wasted gallons of water cleaning out one jar of peanut butter so that it could be reincarnated as a Christmas tree ornament or a rear view mirror. But let's face it: for now, it's just the high face on the totem pole of trash. So dirty water should be as clean as it gets. Now that makes sense!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where Have You Been?

I know. Bad Bogger! The visit with mom was great. But, as with every visit from a friend or family member, something from my regularly scheduled programming has to give. This time it was bloggity-blog-blogging.

I was thinking about you guys though. If you don't believe me, just ask my mother. I kept reminding her that I wanted her to change one habit back in NY. And you would not believe the headway I made! Now, to put this in perspective, I told you what my mother was like, right? The woman who, while watching Lady Diana marry Prince Charles stood at the television with a group of awestruck viewers and blurted, "Who cares? No one put my wedding on TV!"

First of all, she will think twice about having her water glass refilled at restaurants when she knows that she is not going to drink it. In fact, the last night at dinner, she and I did an experiment together by flipping my glass over so that they wouldn't come over and pour more without asking. By the way, this worked wonders against the sniper-like attack of the water pitcher. The waiter looked at us like we were crazy (well, really, me.) but let him think whatever he wants. It worked. Thanks Mom!!!

The other thing that my mother did was she asked me permission before she ordered bottled water at a restaurant. Now, she was treating, so of course I held up my hands and just told her to do what she wanted to do. But she told me that she didn't want to disrespect my rule. She went from the start of the trip, when she insisted on bringing Diet Coke into my house because a guest might want to drink it despite my serious rule, to which she replied, "Too bad," was actually asking my permission. I have to believe that it was more than my rule that made her think twice. Something I said must have gotten through to her. Of course, she went on to point out that the reason she really wanted it was because it was sparkling, and not just regular water. Don't worry, Mommy! The fact that you're thinking about it makes me happy!

Finally - and I know that this isn't a done deal - but I think she's actually considering not buying bottled water anymore. She doesn't know this, but I am going to get her her own Kleen Kanteen so that she has an alternative sitting right in front of her. The fact is, my mom's a tough nut to crack. If I can get through to her, I know I can get through to other people. Believe me, once you start thinking about it, it's tough to go back.

My visit with my mom was awesome, and not just for the reasons I mention above. I have to admit, I loved getting through to her on certain things, but to all you who check off the 0-45 box for your age, I realized something. This is our responsibility. If our kids end up with a water shortage that has spread throughout the world, that's our fault. We can't blame a generation who didn't know that this would end up being a problem. And we can't use anymore excuses. This is not difficult people! Flip your glass over today!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I had to look up that fact I posted yesterday again because it seems difficult to believe. I might have to do a bit more research to prove to myself that it is true that for every 8 oz of water saved, you save another 1.5 to three gallons. When I told my husband about that this morning, he said, "I don't know how we have any water at all!" How true. But I might have to go to a more reliable primary source for that little nugget to sink into my brain. Maybe I just don't WANT it to be true.

Either way, the restaurant thing is going to be the little goal I have with my mom. All she drinks is wine and coffee, so really, it would not be a big deal to get her to say no thank you at a restaurant. I think this might work!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Just Say No

I know it sounds weird, given all this talk of water, but I don't drink enough. Water, I mean. My husband calls me the camel because I never drink (gosh, I think that's why he calls me that...) Being me goes something like this: 1. I don't drink enough water. 2. I get a headache. 3. I down enough water to fill my kids blow-up pool. 4. I burp 5. I don't drink enough again for the next two days.

I was out to lunch with my Mother today and the waiter dude filled up my glass every time I took a sip the size of a tear drop. Hey, I'm sure the guy was ready to pass out from boredom given that his only two customers were talking about Project Runway, but that's no reason to waste water. But, I realized, it was my fault. How? Because I didn't tell him to stop. Why is it that when I'm at a restaurant, I feel the need to pretend that I'm going to shrivel up into a scoop of pate if my water glass is more than a half inch from the rim of my glass? So, finally I put my foot down and gave it to him straight. I looked him in the eye and told him what I never had the guts to say before, "No thank you."

Turns out, this could be a really easy easy easy way of conserving water. I found out you could save 1.5 to 3 gallons of water for every 8 ounce glass of water you refuse at a restaurant. That doesn't make sense, you say? Well, believe it or not, it takes water to make clean, drinkable water

So next time the waiter comes over to refill your water glass and you darn well know you're not going to drink it, for goodness sakes, just say no. Just be polite. Or the next glass of water will be saliva.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Guess Who's Coming for Water

Having been at this water conservation thing for a while, I have gotten used to certain things. You know, all the little behaviors I've been blogiphising about. Faucets are turned on the lowest pressure possible. Toilets are not always flushed. Dishes are not rinsed before going in the dishwasher. Then there are the other kinds of evidence of this new endeavor, like driving my husband crazy and writing extremist letters to Coke-a-cola. Sometimes I slip up and make sure to spend a few minutes feeling like a pinhead about it and try to do better. But just as I'm feeling like the Steve Jobs of water conserving housewives, a force stronger than I swoops down and crushes the system like Y2K (you know, if Y2K had actually been a real thing): Mom's visiting.

I love my mom. She is smart and generous and gifted. I mean, I have not had to lift a finger since she's been here. She's made dinner, washed the dishes, and lit the fire under my keester to do laundry - and she's been here for less than a day! But, Lord have mercy, girlfriend can waste some water!

What do you do when you want to be an environmentally-conscious pain in the butt and have guests? If Ghandi's mom came for a visit and wanted a sandwich, would he actually tell mama to take a hike? (No, I'm not comparing myself to Ghandi. Jeez!) Seriously, when you have guests, do you just tell them all the new rules of the household until they decide they will never stay with you ever again? Think about it: my mother is scrubbing my pots - am I really going to get all Poindexter in her face about the amount of water she's using? I'm not. I may not be a good enough daughter not to talk smack about her behind her back on this blog, but I'll be darned if I won't be a respectful schmoopy pumpkin.

So for the next week, while I will continue my own water-conserving behavior, my goal will be not to drive my mother completely insane, but rather to convince her to change one behavior that will save water. Now, some of you may be thinking that one behavior is a pretty whimpy goal. Well, to you I say, you don't know my mother. Ever hear the sayings "get over it," "so what," "big deal," and "What do you think you're the only one who's got a life, Karen?" She invented those. So, unless you can come up with a better plan, I'm sticking to my underachiever goal - get over it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's Pouring... Water! (Well, yeah...)

I have so much work to do today that I'm not really sure how I'm going to get it all done. So, instead of getting into it and finding at midnight that I've neglected the blog, I thought I would sit down for a quick word about my lovely, earth conscious neighborhood.

I knew just the place to go to get the bio bags and sure enough, there they were, and cheaper than I had found them online! Still not as cheap as my free paper bags from Trader Joe's, but this foe plastic is made from food and is completely biodegradable, so I guess I don't have to be such a cheapskate. So I'm back on the wagon and off the garbage disposal once more.

I also stopped off for a cup of coffee at this awesome bakery near me called Arizmendi - one of two places near me that I can always rely on for an awesome cup of coffee and something full of carbs and delicious (the other place is Cafe 504 - Hi guys!). Anyway, BOTH of these places do something that I think every cafe should do. Instead of selling bottled water, they just provide it, free of charge to any thirsty customer. I've made a mental note of this before, but somehow today, this hit me a little more seriously. They could probably choose to make a killing on bottled water, but instead, they do the earth conscious thing and just give it away - as if this stuff just pours out of the wall or something! Oh, wait a minute... it DOES.

I know I've mentioned that sticker that restaurants can put on their paper towel dispenser that reads "These Come From Trees." Well, I think it's important to note that, in the same spirit of that kind of simplicity, a huge difference could be made if local places decided that they are not going to take part in the bottled water scam, and instead provide water to their customers. Why. Because, as I've said before, it's the SAME water! There is nothing magical about bottled water. Except, of course, to the people filling up the bottles from the tap and making money off of it.

Look out for the places that provide water for their customers and give them props. They're doing a good thing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bag Lady

I have fallen off the garbage disposal wagon (for those of you just joining us, the g.d. can waste up to 150 gallons a month! Shocked? Yeah... welcome to my world!) the last few days because of a reason you might consider stupid. I don't have any compost bags. I've been using Trader Joe's bags, but I would have to do food shopping for the Brady Bunch in order to keep up with the number of paper bags I would need for compost and recycling. So, I need compost bags. But, I just went to order them and I have to say, they are a bit expensive! And the cost of shipping makes the price jump from pricey to what-you-talkin-bout? So before I break into my son's college fund (okay, it's not THAT bad), I am going to go on a compost bag hunt. I think I know a place in my area that sells them. In the meantime, if anyone notices a sale on compost bags, please let me know!

Friday, October 2, 2009

At the Car Wash, Whoa whoa whoa whoa!

I'm thinking of naming my car the Schmutz Express. No? How about the Crumb Bun? Let's just get right to the point, shall we? Crap Bubble! Is that better? Whatever garbage reference you may like best, you would think of all of them when you see my car. Why don't I get it washed? Well, what stops me from doing every other freaking everyday thing other people do? Water. Unfortunately, I came across a little piece of information before washing my car that has blocked my ability to pay a visit to the nearest 76 station with a drive through washer: it takes 100 gallons to wash a car. One HUNDRED.

Okay, so I'll get a bucket and use it in my driveway. Better? NO! Turns out all the junk in the soap and stuff runs off the driveway, and into the sewer and well, ends up in the ocean (not in magic fairy water heaven, like I thought). Oh, you oceans and sea creatures! Just when we humans want to go do something in ignorance, you're always ruining the fun!

So what is a person who can't see out her car windows supposed to do? Well, it turns out that there are some products that will allow you to do a "waterless," and more importantly, "Non-toxic" car wash. Here are some links:

Please know that I have not tried ANY of these products yet and that I'm just putting random ones I find up here. If you want to let me know about a particular one, please do, and I'll do the same. I'll be honest, I'm just going to go by price unless someone knows of one I should not live without.

I have to say that I am really disappointed that my son will not have the memory of getting all wet and soapy in the driveway in his bathing suit as we wash the car. It's why people live in the suburbs, right? But I guess I would rather sacrifice that cheesy Kodak moment than his future water supply!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beautiful Stranger...

I almost never check the comments on this blog because, well, it's reminiscent of my days as a single gal waiting for the phone to ring (cue violins...). Of course there are the days when my husband has written to me, usually when he has learned for the first time a new house rule (I have learned to stop doing that, as you know). But scanning the blog recently, I noticed a comment from someone I don't actually know who suggested a shower head for me to use called the "Green Choice" showerhead. It lets you turn down the pressure of the water so that you A) don't have to stand in the buff freezing your patootie off during your Navy Shower and B) don't have an excuse to use the same amount of water as it takes to quench the thirst of the Loch Ness Monster. Anyway Nigel, thank you for the suggestion. It's on my Costco list - winter's coming!!!

Did I mention yesterday that Coke has not gotten back to me? (Cue violins again...) Their website does mention that they are harvesting rainwater in the communities where they make their product ( I kind of still want a response to my questions. Should I assume this means that they will not have control over who has access to this water? I just want to fully understand. Because if they can harvest enough rainwater in order to replenish the water they use, then why not just use the rainwater? Why take the water in the first place? Just sayin... Maybe I'm just being annoying, but I want to know. This quality probably explains the whole waiting-by-the-phone reference (Cue, violins!)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's Your Beef?

(I'm writing this sentence after finishing this blog entry. Warning: it's a real snoozer in the beginning!!! But it gets better toward the end. I guess I could do something about it as opposed to talking about myself behind my own back, but I don't feel like it.)

It took a couple of days to muster the energy to do something about the dishes after having guests on Sunday. Needless to say, the dishwasher was bursting. I had to wash some by hand and you can't believe how careful I was being to ensure that I did not use a ton of water. Really, it wasn't any more time consuming than handwashing usually is. But here's what I did.

1) Every time I washed a dish, I only put a little bit of water on it as I scrubbed (plus the water that I mix with the soap)
2) As I rinsed, I made sure that the next dish was underneath and catching the water so that I could scrub it using that water.
3) I made sure to run the sink at half the pressure and shut it off when I wasn't rinsing.

I wish I knew how much water all this was saving. I have to say, though, that when I had to wash out a cup that had milk in it. One cup, okay? I was sure to use the excess water to soak the dishes that were waiting to be washed and I filled three bowls. THREE BOWLS to wash just one cup. And that's using my whimpy half pressure method. So I don't really want to think about how much water I wasted all those times I had the water rushing out of the faucet like Niagara Falls.

Yesterday, after doing dishes, I read this really reliable source called Facebook (every hear of it?) that we could be saving like a kabillion gallons of water if we only ate beef once a week. (Okay, don't fact check kabillion, nerds, it was just a really high number, aight?) Now, I loves some beef, but I couldn't ignore this. So I looked for a more reliable source (if there is such a thing) and I found this great site called, which tells you the kind of impact you can make on the environment by changing certain behaviors. Here's the link about cutting beef down to once-a-week (

"Eat beef only once a week and reduce C02 emissions by 3,028 pounds and save 207,920 gallons of water. According to New Scientist Magazine, every one kilogram of beef produces the equivalent of 36.4 kilograms (80 pounds) of C02."

I highly recommend the site. Am I going to cut beef down to once a week? Who me? Uhhh, I have to say, I don't even know if I could tell you how many times I actually eat beef. Hey, I've already cut out bottled water and even greatly reduced bottled drinks... the beef would be really difficult. My daughter is a vegan, can I just swipe her brownie points on this one??? Jeez, you're persistent! I will say this, I am going to give my grocery list another look to see how much beef is on it and then take it from there, okay? You know I'll update you honestly. But, how about you?

Anyway, take a look at the site. You are bound to find one simple thing you can do that would make a huge impact on how much water you use, and the environment. It's a great site!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Canning It

You almost got a wine soaked blog entry about toilets yesterday...

Wait a minute, before I continue, that is my way of saying that the ONE and a half glasses of wine I had at dinner with another couple last night made me sleepy. So I'm qualifying for you kids out there. There are enough people in the public eye acting like a bunch of hooligans. You don't need to start thinking that this concerned-mommy-slash-citizen-turned-blogging-babbler is one of them. Now, back to the can...

I don't know if any of you caught my comments about toilets the other day because I erased the whole rant the next day. I never edit this thing, but I did erase that one for other reasons. I will now happily rehash the gist of what was in my dissertation... because I don't have anything else to say today.

Did you know that the water in your toilet is the same water you drink? Watch it, now, I'm not saying you could actually drink the water in your toilet. No. That would be gross. What I'm saying, is the water that flows in and out of your toilet is the same water that comes out of your kitchen sink. Now, take a moment and think about this. Just stop what you're doing and think about it. Does this make any sense to you? Because if it does, please tell me why.

So, I start doing a little research to find out if there are some inventions out there that will start recycling the water from the sink, bathtub or washing machine by connecting them to the toilet tank, so that the water that receives your poop is not water that would be better served making the coffee that thereby makes you have to poop. And once again, thank goodness for smart people:

Now, for you fellow nerds out there who say, "hmm, I think I would like to do some research of my own," and google water, toilet, recycle, you WILL get articles about technology that some places are considering to recycle the TOILET water. You will then either throw up, pass out or be so confused and upset that you start Moon Walking. I would encourage us to read all of the water saving options out there with an open mind. As we say in Karate - Gassho!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Best Laid Plans

I showered with a watering can this morning. I got all ready for my shower and then said to my son, uh, honey, can you get that watering can in the hall for mommy. He waddled over and brought it right to me and then blurted out with the urgent whine that can only come from a three year old. "What are you doing!?"

Well, I have one major suggestion for anyone who is planning on getting on board with this idea - catching all of the unused water to use for other purposes, like watering plants - use something that has a very WIDE brim. Because the little opening at the top of this sort-of-fancy watering can I bought at the very fancy boutique Target caught all of about a half pint of water. Okay, yes, it's something, but not enough to allow my son to think his mom's a wierd-0.

In other news, my husband has been making his own iced tea and we still have over half of the one bottled drink we bought for the week. He is making a serious effort to be on board with this new policy of no bottled drinks in the house and I love him so much for that. I know it's not easy.

I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I am fully aware that by doing this blog thing, that I am opening myself up to being a hypocrite. Well, today is only half way over and I committed a big no no. There I am at the local farmers market, acting all crunchy munchy with my canvas bag and organic produce. Then we hit the Tamale stand (the best tamale's EVER, by the way. And organic!) and GULP! I realize I don't have my steel, chemical-free, life-saving, water-saving, environment-saving, hypocrite-saving, WORLD-saving, canteens! So what do you do with a sweaty kid whose parched and whining and no water fountain in site? You buy a bottle of "Arkansas' finest," as tomale-guy put it. Oh Lord, how I did cringe. My husband turned to me and said, "Isn't this something you're not supposed to do?" All I could do was nod. Tomorrow is another day.

Anyway, after realizing that I'm not perfect (darn, cause yesterday, I thought I was!) my email to Coke was very humble. (Wha? I told you i was going to have to ask Muhtar himself!) Here it is:

I recently saw your CEO on a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative and heard him speak about your goals toward water neutrality. I had seen a documentary about Coke using water in India a couple of years ago and am happy about this newfound effort toward sustainability! I have three questions for you:

1) Will the water these initiatives be replenishing the very communities where you actually use the water to make your products?
2) Will the water generated in these initiatives be owned by Coke, who will then charge the people of the communities for the water? If so, how can you insure that the poorest communities will have access to the water?
3) Given your company's new awareness of this growing problem of water shortage, would your company ever consider eliminating your bottled water division Dasani, knowing that bottled water is a part of the cause of this growing water shortage?

Thank you so much in advance for your honest response to these questions. I am just a private citizen with a growing concern for this worldwide problem.

I will let you know when they write back. Let me know if you hear anything at recess or in study hall!

Friday, September 25, 2009

...You Got Some 'Splainin To Do!

I know, I left you hanging. I'm actually still contemplating whether or not I want to go into it. The Bill Clinton reference, I mean. I watched the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday. Wanna watch it?

I guess I'm just waiting until I'm smarter to talk about what I heard. I mean, gee wiz, those people on that panel were a hell of a lot smarter than me. CEO, President, Prime Minister-types all shooting the breeze with Bill Clinton. Among them, Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coke. Hey... Coke... where did I recently see you that made me vow I would never buy another one of your products ever again...? Oh, A World Without Water. Oh. Gee. How embarrassing for you, Coke.

I know that documentary was made two years ago, but in two years, Coke has gone from sucking land dry to getting a foot massage for their "green" ways?

Coke is spreading the word that they are setting a new goal for themselves. Water neutrality. Sounds awesome, right? And Bill Clinton seemed to be impressed. Usually, that's all I need to know. Here it is on their website that lets readers know how awesome they are:

"The Global Water Challenge: In partnership with many non-governmental organizations, the Coca-Cola system has established 68 community-based water initiatives in 40 countries, including The Global Water Challenge."

So, all the smart people up there clapped and listened and looked pretty impressed. Hey, they're all way smarter than me, so found myself smiling too. After all, I'm just a schmuck with a computer I can turn on and off that plays these webcast thingies for me, I don't know how it works... So maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but the "non-governmental" part of that sentence makes me a little nervous. Like will they be charging people for it at a price that they see fit? Because privatization is the thing that scares me cause I'm still living in Camp Waterisahumanright. I actually joined Twitter during the webcast just so that I could tweet that darn question, but I am too simple-minded to have even been able to do that, so maybe I should just look at the birdie and whistle a happy tune... No, I can't. I really want to know. Can anyone find the answer to my question? Am I going to have to email Muhtar? Hey, I'm tough enough to take a navy shower, I'm tough enough to blast through a little PR BS and find out what's going on.

Let me just say, that I want the answer to be "no" - that they will not own and operate the water that runs into people's homes. I'm not looking for Coke to be evil, I want to believe everything on their self-loving website. Please Coke, tell me what I want to hear so I don't give you the evil eye - because I know that would do serious damage to you.

In the meantime, for those of you who are still on the third paragraph of this entry and thinking, how the heck can anyone be "water neutral," here's a link for you:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oh so sleepy this evening. I have so much to talk about that would just fascinate the pants off you - toilets, laundry, Bill Clinton - but I just don't think I can tonight. (You're wondering why I said Bill Clinton, right? See how I just stuck that in there so that maybe you would read tomorrow, hoping that I explain. Is my hook working?)

I will say that my steel cups from KleenKanteen came in today and boy oh boy, you'd think my son was the most deprived child on earth the way he freaked out when he saw his new cup. So excited. When does life stop being that way?

Anyway, we went to a party tonight, where I knew there would be bottled water. I was sure to bring out cups so that we would not be tempted to drink any bottled water, and it was fine. Hey, that wasn't difficult!

On the home front, the whole Navy shower is second nature now. I will say, however, that my shower has two knobs, one for hot and one for cold. I hate to be a whiner when there are so many people in the world deprived of so many necessities, but the two knobs are kind of a pain. I have learned to endure water of any temperature ranging from holy-pig-fart-my-teeth-are-going-to-freeze-cold to oh-my-lord-my-toenails-are-going-to-melt-hot, just so that I don't waste the water waiting for it to get to the perfect temperature. If you're redoing your bathroom and you are a navy showerer, then I recommend getting one of those things that you turn and then pop out, so it's always on the temperature you want it to be.

Did I actually use the word "fart" in this blog entry. I'm really tired...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Ever notice how the common thing to do is to turn the sink on before putting soap on your hands. And there's the sink, running while you lather up. It might not amount to much, but I'm noticing if I soap up first, then turn on the sink, I don't use as much water. What is helpful in this capacity is that I use that foamy soap, not the gel, which is too gooey and thick. If you have the gel, just fill the dispenser half way with water to thin it out (and to avoid buying soap every other week).

Monday, September 21, 2009


So, in my blind zeal for rectifying the world's water shortage, I forgot to consider that I am dragging other members of my family around with me. So far, as I have mentioned, they have been more than willing to take on these new habits. My son has learned to let yellow mellow and my husband turns the water down to half the pressure. But the no bottled drinks thing isn't going to fly. My husband has negotiated a compromise with me. Rather than completely cutting out bottled drinks, he is going to start by reducing what we purchase to one bottle (I think it's a half gallon) of his favorite drink per week. Believe it or not, we could go through one of those lickety split, but now, once a week.

You'll remember yesterday in an unintentional water pun I mentioned that my husband is my filter. Well, this is the perfect example. Now that he is back, he has reminded me of something I've probably talked about before on this here bloggy thing. Baby steps. If you're at the bottom of a flight of steps, you can't get to the top without crossing over those first few. I tried to leap to the top - it's not going to work. I shouldn't expect that of myself and I shouldn't expect it of anyone else. Baby steps. I think it was seeing those kids in that documentary I posted who had no water in their homes because a private company had taken over the water system. Can you blame me for going overboard after seeing that level of injustice?

In the meantime, you'll notice I haven't gotten Ebola or Pink-eye or Rickets (what the heck is rickets anyway?) from drinking from the same glass this weekend. I'm going to put it in the dishwasher tonight, but for no particular reason other than my own arbitrary limit. It seems like if I only drink water, and the water isn't sitting in the cup, I could conceivably just keep drinking out of it, thereby making fewer dishes to wash. I feel like Kramer in that episode of Seinfeld where he test drives a car that Jerry is thinking of buying and pushes the gas gauge to the brink and then keeps going in a Thelma and Louise moment. Hahaa! Good stuff. But, I'll stop. If I act like I have no limits, then ya'll will just stop taking me seriously. Baby steps.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

When the Husband's Away...

My husband is livin' la vita loca in Chicago this weekend and usually he is my filter (no water pun intended) before I launch into my blogging frenzy. Not having him around this weekend, I find myself not bereft of ideas, but swimming in a pool of topics (Say... that's another water pun!) So if I sound like my three year old - who manages to go from airports to dinosaurs to lollipops within a one-minute conversation - forgive me.

First of all, I've been drinking water out of the same glass all weekend while the hubby's been away. Not washing between drinks, I mean just refilling and gulping it down. Is that gross? It doesn't seem gross, but I'm open to your opinion. I'm pointing this out because it's got me thinking. Why the hell do I normally use a different glass every time I get thirsty or sit down to eat? Am I the only one who does this? Or the more ridiculous thing I'll do is I'll have a glass of water - WATER, okay? - and then I'll wash the glass like I've got Grace Jones standing behind me with a whip. I know my backwash isn't a river of gold, but do I really need to go to town on it like I've got the plague? No. So the new policy in my house is this: one day, one glass. If you break your glass or lose it, get a straw and find a puddle.

So, not only am I missing out on my husbands' stag weekend in Chi-town, but I was painfully reminded with a cackling speaker-phone call that my high school posse is together in New York this weekend. Of course, thanks to this blog and all the wonderful things I'm finding out about about "blue gold," I think I managed to buzz kill my way through the case of wine they'd likely already enjoyed. One mention of my friend's dishwasher and I went off to nerdville, telling them about the evils of bottled water and why they should be composting their trash and blah- blah-de-blah. Good Lord, Karen!!! But hopefully they're reading this so that I may redeem myself to them and anyone else who wants to hear my side of the story.

Here's the thing: I wasted so much time being oblivious to this issue that I get a little carried away when I start talking about it. Before I know it, I end up sounding like some old guy, shaking his fist at kids playing ring-and-run - complete with milky white saliva-goo gathered at each side of the mouth. I am sorry for getting that way - I realize it may annoy people. But I do need a favor. If you - whoever you are - read this blog, remember that you chose to read it instead of watching a sit-com or reading a novel. You wanted honesty. And here's the honest truth: if I can do these things, so can you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Confused, Perplexed, Puzzled and Bewildered

I don't know if you actually watched that documentary I posted yesterday, but man, that thing scared the living bejezus out of me. I couldn't sleep. I had to turn on reruns of 30 Rock to fall asleep and then I dreamed about Coke building a plant next to my apartment building. I should have posted Friday the 13th instead. It would have been a lot more relaxing.

I woke up really grumpy from lack of sleep, but when you have a kid, the morning train never fails to pull into the station. So there I was, reading picture books at 6:30 am. Among the choices today was Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (William Steig). If you're not familiar with it, I highly recommend it for kids of ALL ages - including you big kids reading this - for the beautiful lesson it teaches about appreciating what you have. Of course, it was fitting for me since I couldn't help but take a moment to be thankful after watching yesterday's film. But the part I'm thinking about is when Sylvester (who's a donkey) sees a hungry lion while holding the magic pebble. Being scared and flustered by the sight of the beast, he says "I wish I were a rock." Steig writes about how the lion bounds over just as Sylvester turns into a rock and ends up walking away, "confused, perplexed, puzzled and bewildered."

Well folks, after seeing that piece last night, I'm the lion. It's like, I've been tackling this problem the only way I know how - by using less water in my home. I looked at the problem, and thought, "Hey, there's a water shortage in my area. I know! I'll just use less water!" And just as I bounded over to face the problem head on, the whole thing went from being a donkey to a rock. Just like that.

Now I'm confused, perplexed, puzzled and bewildered. I mean, I'm taking the Navy showers, I'm putting crusted dishes in my dishwasher, I'm giving my plants every unused drop of water in the house and have sworn off bottled water. But after last night's movie, well gosh, it seems like that's like putting a Hello Kitty band-aid on a gunshot wound. So, now there's a new law in my house: the only bottled drinks allowed in my house will be juice, milk and alcohol.

I didn't know if I should make such a bold statement when I first thought of it. After all, I don't like being a hypocrite and I love a little lemonade in my water. But then I realized something. Lemonade is made from LEMONS! Are you thinking what I first thought? Karen, you have to use the water anyway, so you might as well buy it and recycle the bottle. But what was explained in the documentary is that if you water the crops to grow lemons, that water gets soaked back down into the ground and replenishes the land. But if you take the water from one area, bottle it and then transport it to another location, the original site of the water simply dries up and becomes uninhabitable.

In Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, the confused lion simply walks away saying, "Maybe I'm going crazy." Which is kind of what I did last night. I didn't feel a renewed sense of energy, I just felt overwhelmed and turned to fiction for some sense. But, if that lion had just looked down at his feet, he would have seen the magic pebble sitting there and he would have figured it out. I may be perplexed, but I'm staying to figure this rock out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It just took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to put this thing on Facebook. Jeez! I felt like an old lady, squinting at the screen and poking at the keys as if I'd never seen this computer whosey-whatsy before. But, there is my little picture, sitting all by itself on the page. So if you actually read this thing, become a fan and spread the word. Then we can all kvetch about what to do with the gallons of water in the bathtub when your kid refuses to get in because if the joker-smile outline of ice cream on his face is washed away he won't be able to taste it any time he wants. Should you just let it go down the drain or should you use at least some of it for some other purpose, like watering your lawn. Well, don't answer that until you watch this:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Now that I've snubbed bottled water as part of my effort to conserve water (see past blog entries if you no speaka' me language). I have been making a concerted effort to always leave the house with water for my kid and SOMETIMES I actually remember to leave with water for myself (Like most mommies, I'm like, "Me? Who's that?") But of course when I went to buy a little canteen cup for myself, I was really surprised to see that even at Target I could spend as much as over 20 bucks for - lets face it - a freakin CUP! It's not like I went for the $1.99 clearance model, I went for a middle of the road, OXO (I love their stuff) hot/cold cup. Well, man, I put coffee in that thing ONCE and every time I drink water in it now, I taste old Latte. I love a foamy drink as much as the next gal, but getting hints of month-old espresso does not make me say "ahhh." So A friend of mine recommended one to me, and I'm passing on her recommendation:

"We love out stainless steel water bottles from Klean Kanteen! We bought them online at now I see them at Whole Foods. NOT the Sigg bottles though-- if you drop a Sigg, you can crack the inside liner and then the bad chemicalinside is exposed."

Anyway, I figured, okay, here I go, springin' for one a' them there fancy-schmancy cups, but it turns out that it's about the same. Go figure. So, I don't know about you, but it's a done deal for me. I mean, I can understand having coffee breath after a hot cuppa joe, but after 8 oz. of filtered water? I don't think so.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Missed You Yesterday

Thanks to my stellar time management skills, I missed any opportunity I might have had to blog before konking out at about 9:30. But thanks to a good night's sleep, I am finally remembering to brag about my dishwasher - something that I've been meaning to do for weeks now. I may not be blood related to "Kenmore," but as far as I'm concerned, it can call me Mama. It is has been the biggest water-saving asset in my house. Sure, I've been using it anyway, but day by day I have been rinsing the dishes less and less before putting them in the dishwasher and darn-it to hell, that baby has the dishes looking shinier than... well, okay, I'll stop with the drama. They're clean, let's just put it that way.

Now, I don't want to get into a whole my-dishwasher-is-in-the-honors-program-at-school thing with you, but I think it's time that we all challenge our dishwasher to aim for the Dean's List. If you're anything like my mother (hey, she deserves me talking smack about her behind her back on this thing. She told me she hasn't read it yet!) you WASH the dishes before they go in the dishwasher. Honey, that just don't make no kinda sense! You can save as much as 20 gallons per load. Something else I didn't know was that it actually takes more energy to heat up the water if you hand wash than is used by a dishwasher. For more on this, and for recommendations of dishwashers that save the most energy and water you can go to:

I'll have to go back to my other dishwasher entry to see if I'm repeating myself, but gimme a break! I'll need to lose 10 pounds and get a tummy tuck before something else can make me look this good.

Monday, September 14, 2009

No Duh

Part of what made me nervous about writing about water conservation - aside from the fact that I was very nervous about sounding like a big dummy when it came to the facts - was getting my family to participate. Here I was, thinking that my husband was going to put up a big stink every time I told him about a new water-saving strategy. So the other day I put on my face that says, "I'm not nagging, I'm just informing..." and I told him about lowering the faucet to half pressure whenever you run the sink. He looked at me and said, "I already do that." Who knew?

As for my three year old, well, he was going to be the big problem in all of this, right? Well, moms and dads out there, even a three year old can do this. After only a couple of days worth of reminding, the child now turns on the sink and then twists the knob back just enough so that the water comes out at a lower pressure. Seeing the mixed look of pride and shock, he smiled at me and said, "I'm saving water!"

Anyway, for anyone who is not doing this for the same reasons I wasn't doing any of this - because it's too complicated to get everyone on board - it's time to find another excuse. If you're anything like me, you might discover that the only one who had to get on board was you!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Got 50 Cents?

The party was a success, even minus the bottled water. Go figure...

Now I feel comfortable spouting a few facts that I found that made me want to reverse the rotation of the earth to the days when we were happy just to sip water from a hose in the backyard and only people living in houses with columns out front would even consider buying their water.

Only a very shallow amount of research surfaced the fact that the EPA is in charge of regulating tap water and the FDA is in charge of bottled. So, I'm thinking, okay... government agency abbreviations - someone is on it - that's alls I needs to here! But then I read on (

"FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose to consumers where the water came from, how it has been treated or what contaminants it contains."

Say that again?

"FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose to consumers where the water came from, how it has been treated or what contaminants it contains...."

Okay... so what about tap water? You would think, same deal, right? Wrong.

"The Safe Drinking Water Act empowers EPA to require water testing by certified laboratories and that violations be reported within a specified time frame. Public water systems must also provide reports to customers about their water, noting its source, evidence of contaminants and compliance with regulations."

Being that I am only a budding nerd when it comes to all of this, I found this very enlightening. You would think that for all that money, they would be filtering it through halos. After all, if you chug your the recommended eight glasses a day from bottles, you could spend nearly $1,500 annually. The same amount of tap water would cost about 50 cents. ( Meanwhile, the FDA is swinging in the breeze? I don't know about you, but this is all I can handle for today.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mother Nature's Tears of Joy

So, remember way back when I started this thing, I mentioned that it never rains here? Well, upon my decision to take the bottled water back to Costco - opting for the more conservation-friendly decision to go to the trouble of having a pitcher of filtered water - guess what happened... it RAINED. Hey, I'm not saying that it rained thanks to me, but you know, it probably did. Earth's little thank you gift. Imagine if we all stopped buying water??? The polar ice caps would stop melting, the smog would lift and a herd of woolly mammoths would emerge from the jungle! You know, probably...

Okay, maybe not, but the point is this: conserving water may be a thankless job, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it. No one ever high-fives me when I turn the sink pressure down and I never hear applause when I step out of my Navy shower. And believe me, the guy at Costco couldn't give a flying fig newton that I was returning this case of water for the sake of my children (and his!). I'm sure I even sacrificed a few points with my poor mother in-law, whom I dragged along with me. But it just has to be done. The only comfort is knowing that there is a possibility that someone else is making the same choices. If you are, then go ahead and high-five your screen - I've got my hand up!

Anyway, this is it for me and bottled water. That's right. Are you kidding, I just drove 5 miles to Costco to return 70 bottles of water for not even 7 bucks. If I buy any now, I've really got to be crazy. I'm going to have to leave the house prepared now, I know. Especially for the kid's sake. But this is it. My house does need to be earthquake ready, and for that I will keep my emergency water, but other than that, we're done. Now I have to tell my husband...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Message in a Bottle

I'm just going to say it. I have 70 4-oz bottles of water sitting in my house. Why is this a problem? Well, given that I'm trying to conserve water, it pains me to think of how much water actually went into bottling this water. I just read that it takes three times more water to make a bottle than the amount of water IN the bottle. I didn't know if I could trust the source of that statement, so I looked elsewhere and read something that claimed it was seven times. Well, damn-it, I was trying to find something that told me it was LESS, not more! Okay, here's a little snippit of what I have to live knowing now (

The corporatization of water

"In the documentary film Thirst, authors Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman demonstrated the rapid worldwide privatization of municipal water supplies, and the effect these purchases are having on local economies.

"Water is being called the “Blue Gold” of the 21st century. Thanks to increasing urbanization and population, shifting climates, and industrial pollution, fresh water is becoming humanity’s most precious resource.

"Multinational corporations are stepping in to purchase groundwater and distribution rights wherever they can, and the bottled water industry is an important component in their drive to commoditize what many feel is a basic human right: the access to safe and affordable water."

Sooo, I'm reading this and looking at the bottles and bottles of water sitting in my entrance way and I know what I have to do. I have to return it. There's no way that I can claim to you that I am serious about this and then distribute these (Oh, did I mention that I bought them because we are having a party in the backyard? Is that a good excuse to add to the demise of the earth's resources?)

Believe me, I don't want to go back to Costco tomorrow to return these suckers. But I'm going to. The next step in my endeavor is to swear off bottled water. This is not going to be easy. Especially when my toddler bellows about how thirsty he is. Bottled water is easy. It's within arm's length faster than you can say "1.5 million tons" (the amount of plastic waste created by water bottles every year). But really, leaving the house without water is just a habit. My new habit will be to always carry water on me. No plastic water bottle, no bottled water. I've got water coming out of all the faucets, and it turns out, it's no different than the water in the freakin bottles. What!? More on that tomorrow.