Monday, August 31, 2009
I did pick her brain about how much water my toilet was using and she said probably about 3 gallons. So I had her lower the water level in the tank. Hah! I just made that sound like it was my idea. SHE said she would lower the water level for me. Unfortunately, the toilet very old and is still using a lot of water. Needless to say, we're going to have to figure something out. Another new policy is about to go into effect. A flushing policy. What the policy is just yet, I can't say. I can't exactly tell my toddler that we don't flush the toilet when we pee, because other people might take offense. I'm going to have to get back to ya'll on this one. In the meantime, I have to go cry about how much this little experience has cost me (in dollars and water).
Sunday, August 30, 2009
There's actually a guy on facebook named Kevin Freedman in Winnepeg who challenged himself to live on 25 liters a day. Wanting to raise awareness about people who suffer from water shortages, like refugees who live on 15-20 (sometimes as little as 5) liters a day, this limited water supply was to be used for everything from cooking to bathing to cleaning. EVERYTHING. You might want to look him up.
Anywway, back to the latest step in water conservation for this house. Last night I made corn on the cob. Only four cobs took at least two gallons of water (Hmmm, no I didn't measure. Maybe I should have. Sorry, I'm learning). Anyway, when it came time for cleanup, I saw this big pot of water and knew if I pour this corny smelling water down the drain, I'm going to have to confess it to the whole world on this blog. So I left it there, sitting in the pot on the stove. Every time I passed it, I knew that I was going to have to think of a way to use this water (Oh, I should mention that my plants are VERY well taken care of from the other water I'm saving, and the lawn gets watered by the landscape company for the building. So that would just be wasting it too.) Then at lunch, I made a bunch of stuff that stuck to the pan that would be a pain in the butt to get off. Finally, I figured it out. I could use the water to soak the pans with the sticky stuff in it. Is it a sign that my life is getting too boring when stuff like this makes me happy? (Please don't answer that!)
Okay, so if you haven't fallen asleep by now (I know when I haven't written the most riveting entry!) I just want to leave you with an anecdote. My little one hates it when I use the garbage disposal. So when I opened the cabinet today, he gave me the look. The look that says, "oh gosh, here it comes..." But given my new policy - no more garbage disposal - I told him not to worry, that I wasn't going to use it anymore, and started to explain why. But he interrupted me and said, "Because it wastes water." I'm so proud. It makes me really happy to know that, while for me, these things are going to be tough to learn, for my son, it's going to become second nature to him. (He also knew that the pit from the plum he ate was to go in our new compost garbage bag, but now I'm just bragging...)
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Well, according to http://www.monolake.org/about/waterconservation, it turns out that using my garbage disposal less can save me 50-150 gallons of water a month. It's just something I can't ignore if I'm going to do this right. Of course, I could throw all of it into the garbage, but they recommend composting. How right you are people who are way smarter than me! But um, I live in an apartment and I don't think my neighbors would appreciate me taking up their yard with a compost heap. So, I looked it up and I easily found out that there is an entire website for my area's waste collection. There is a special garbage can for all foodwaste (which must be put in a brown bag, milk container or ice cream container.
But it's so easy just to send it down a magical pipe in my sink!!! No! No, Karen, stop it! 50-150 Gallons. Goodbye garbage disposal!!!
Friday, August 28, 2009
Well, put on your varsity jacket, grab your trapper keeper and take a trip with me back to science class. Here's what the "Water Science for Schools" page on the US Geological Survey site says (http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/qahome.html#HDR2):
"Q: Where does it go after we are done with it? A: Water leaving our homes generally goes either into a septic tank in the back yard where it evaporates or seeps back into the ground, or is sent to a sewage-treatment plant through a sewer system. In 1995, the last year for which consumptive-use data was compiled, about 26 percent of the water coming from our homes was "consumptively used." That is, it was evaporated or transpired from yards. The other 74 percent was discharged to septic tanks or sewage-treatment plants, where it was cleaned and sent into streams, or sometimes reused for other purposes, such as watering golf courses and parks."
76 percent! No wonder golf courses are so green! This paragraph actually raised more questions for me, like, what is considered consumptively used? More research is necessary, but for now, here's the thing I'm going to focus on: my husband turned it off the sink while brushing his teeth. Well, babe, if you're reading this, you saved up to 8 gallons of water today by doing that - as long as you do it again when you brush tonight! (I know, there I go, "informing" again!)
Thursday, August 27, 2009
It was a fine water-saving day. I followed all my little rules like shutting off the water when brushing my teeth and I instructed the little one not to let the sink continue to run when he's finished washing his hands. Hey, it's a slow process, but we're headed in the right direction. Then, my potty trainer had a code brown. Needless to say, it was upsetting for both of us. Of course in an effort to be supportive, I kept my tone easy-breezy and we headed into the bathroom so I could perform the ultimate super-parent doody... er- I mean, DUTY, and clean him off while not for one second making him feel like this was anything to be ashamed of. And boy did I do a great job. One arduous cleanup session and poof! Psychological crisis averted! Then I noticed the sink.
I had turned on the sink in order to wash my hands (I'll let you guess WHY I had to wash my hands in the midst of all of this) only to immediately continue tending to his needs. Are you going to make me say it? Don't make me say it!!! Ugh! Okay... I left the sink running. The whole time. THE WHOLE TIME!
I don't know why I'm taking it so hard. Well, maybe I do. Here I am, trying to be a better person so that I can pass on a better world to future generations and one brush with poop turns me back into the same wasteful person I thought I'd written off.
I guess I'm telling this story because, if you're anything like me, you look at the list of things you should be doing to conserve water or save the planet or maintain a healthy lifestyle, help your fellow man and it gets overwhelming. And then, if you're anything like me, it just gets to be too much and you just say screw it and you let the water run, throw your used batteries in the trash, eat a box of doughnuts and give your neighbor the finger. But I refuse to take this experience and let it prove to myself that this is impossible. However, I also will stop telling myself that anything like this will ever happen again. I am not perfect. I am not an extremist. I'm just a person who is doing her best to hand over a better planet. And, despite all my flaws (particularly when there is poop loose in the room), I'm not even going to consider that what I'm doing means nothing. Screw that.
Okay, still sitting? Good. Now for the link to your "water footprint." (I know, "Gulp!") This gives examples of how much water is used, not only directly by you, say when you brush your teeth or take a shower, but also indirectly. For example, it takes 37 gallons of water to make my beloved morning coffee. Then the chart offers alternatives that use less water, like tea. I know, some of us would rather never shower again to make up for the water before giving up their morning Frappa Cappa Mocha whatever. You'll know if I do - this blog will get bitchy real fast!
So, how is the poop story related to this link (below)? The point is we should all remember that we're not perfect. Life is always going to throw curve balls or random bodily functions at us that cause us to mess up. Take in the information and do what you can. It means something.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
By tomorrow we will have a watering can by the sink (hey I've got a life just like you, so I have to make time for this stuff!), but for now, we're using big cups. It's not gallons of water a day, but maybe it will amount to a gallon a week - 52 a year. Then there are those times that I let the water run, waiting for it to get hot or cold. Honestly, I'm gonna need a big bucket/watering can for all the water that wastes. According to monolake.org, a household can save 200-300 gallons of water a MONTH just by saving that water, say, by making sure that you keep cold, filtered water in your refrigerator. That's amazing.
When I look this stuff up, I have to say, I'm floored by how much information is out there about saving water. Am I the only one who has been ignorant of these tips? Am I alone the reason that the water supply problem has become this huge problem? Well, geez, I'm sorry! I'm getting with the program, okay! Here's what the government (the epa) said about me (well, they said "homes" but I'm sure it was just their passive aggressive way of talking about me behind my back):
Water Supply and Use in the United States
Water covers approximately 70 percent of the Earth's surface, but less than 1 percent of that is available for human use. The world must share this small amount for agricultural, domestic, commercial, industrial, and environmental needs. Across the globe, water consumption has tripled in the last 50 years. Managing the supply and availability of water is one of the most critical natural resource issues facing the United States and the world.
Homes use more than half of publicly supplied water in the United States, which is significantly more than is used by either business or industry. A family of four can use approximately 400 gallons of water every day. Those amounts used can increase depending on location; for example, the arid West has some of the highest per capita residential water use because of landscape irrigation.
With water use in the United States increasing every year, many regions are starting to feel the pressure. In the last five years, nearly every region of the country has experienced water shortages. At least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions.
To help American homes and business make more efficient use of their water, EPA has developed WaterSense, a partnership program. By offering simple ways to reduce water use through water-efficient product choices—with no sacrifice to quality or product performance—WaterSense helps Americans save water and money.