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.
I know it's only been a day, but turning the sink to half the pressure has not stopped the rotation of the earth like I thought it would. Even though less water is running out of the faucet, I don't find that I am taking any longer to wash my hands or a dish. All this strategy really needs is a good slogan, and I feel like everyone would do it. And imagine how much water we would save just by turning the pressure down to half every time you turn on the sink. I once saw a sticker on a paper towel dispenser that read, simply, "These are made from trees." Well, by gosh, I was sure not going to use my usual pile of towels thick enough to double as a mattress for a hobbit. So what is a good slogan to put above the sink? It's late, so there's no way I'm thinking of one right now - my only point is, this is simple.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bad Blogger

I know, I know, I went to bed without blogging last night. I was so tired! But believe me, I faced sufficient punishment this morning when I did my daily water reading this morning. Girl Googled "Water Shortage" instead of "Water Conservation." Boy, that made me wish there was something stronger in my cup than coffee. Here are some lines that are floating around in my head (hey, why should I be the only one losing sleep tonight!). This is from
  • An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day. (1)
  • 884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people. (5)
  • The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. (1)
  • Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use. (12)
  • The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 13.2 gallons per person. (3)
Say what? I'm sorry, back up... The daily requirement per person for assuring survival is only 13.2 gallons? Okay, this is a good time to tell you what my water calculator told me the other day when I was too tired and grumpy to talk about it. With all of my water saving strategies, it told me that I am using around 60 gallons of water. 60! Even if I cut that in half, that is way more than 13.2. Can you live with that? Because I can't.

Here's a simple thing that I'm going to do. I haven't yet read this, but I'm sure that this has been thought of by all of the experts. I live in a rented apartment and I can't afford to go out and replace every faucet and toilet with the low-flow alternative. But who says I have to turn on the faucet full blast every time I wash my hands or wash a pot. Do I really need that sucker to wet my toothbrush with the pressure of a 4-alarm fire hose? No. I don't. No one does. It makes sense that someone's using 6 gallons of water to wash bagel crumbs off their breakfast dish if the sink is on full blast. But it's totally unnecessary. So, now, when the sink goes on, the habit I'm going to form is lowering it to half of the pressure if it has to run continuously.

The other thing that I've started and am probably going to apply to more daily activities is plugging the drain. My son has a mass of curly hair on his head and every morning it takes a very wet comb to tame it. Usually I turn on the faucet every time I have to wet it again, but now I just plug the sink and dip the comb. I don't see why I can't do that with my toothbrush and I know my husband can do that with his razor when he's shaving.

Now that water shortage is my new Google search, I have to say, I'm a little nervous about what I'm going to learn. I can't look at my kid and know that this is the world I'm going to hand him. And I know that I can't live with accepting that kids his age are not entitled to the same safe water that he is. I can't. These are such stupid little ways of dealing with this, but I just have to start with myself and my family first. But I feel this issue starting to land in the pit of my stomach.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I am dedicated to this website. I refuse to back down. I am determined to write something every day. But I'm afraid this will have to fulfill that promise. It's late. I'm so tired. But for those of you reading this and losing faith in me, don't. I actually did do the water calculator and the number was interesting. And by "interesting" I mean, I've got more work to do. And by "I've got more work to do" I mean I have to go to bed and deal with this in the morning. More tomorrow.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Devil In The Details

I am rushing to get this out because everything else I did today was done as purposefully slow as possible. Surprisingly, I got about as much done as I usually do. I don't know how that's possible, but here I am. I'm not going to lie to you though - the other reason I'm burping this out so late in the day is that for the first time, I really am not sure what to say. I didn't add any new water-saving trick to my repertoire, nor did I look up any gloomy new facts about the future of clean water. Hey, I'm an American enjoying a three day weekend! Lay off, doomsday! Like, I want to watch my kid run through a sprinkler, okay?!?!

Yet, I have made a mental note worth writing. In the short time that I have put my mind to this, I've noticed a distinct change in the way I'm thinking. And when I do something absentmindedly, like pour my leftover drinking water down the drain, I kick myself. I want to do better. I want this to count for something. I don't know if it ever will in the grand scheme, but if I know that I could have flushed the toilet fewer times during the day, then I want to make sure that I don't pass that limit. It means something to me.

I remember when I was living in New York, my roommates and I had a running joke that simply walking out the door was $20. It was true. There was always something. Even if you were going to the store to get a bottle of water, somehow, we'd return broke. My attempt at water conservation is totally reminiscent of those days in my twenties when I would eat baked potatoes and ice cream for dinner to save money, but then find myself dolling out a couple of hundred dollars after stepping on someone's eyeglasses or some stupid thing like that. It's the same thing with this effort to save water. Today, I poured some water back and forth between two bowls in the sink so that I didn't have to run the faucet to rinse them. But then when it came time to do laundry, I spilled gobs of laundry detergent on my quarters and had to use God-knows-how-much water to rinse them off because there was no plug in the basin in the laundry room. Well, crap! What the hell?

I finally think I know where this entry is going (please understand that I am wading through delirium in order to figure this out). I recently came across a water usage "calculator." ( I keep telling myself that I am going to wait to use it because I want to get it down to as little as possible. But I don't think there will come a day when I don't feel like I have used too much water, or that I haven't wasted water at some point. I mean, soapy quarters? Who would have seen that coming?

So, I think at this point, I just have to do it and see what the verdict is. Hey, it's going to be tough to look at the number of gallons of water I use, but perhaps it will motivate me even more to conserve water. So tomorrow, I'm going to calculate. Well, maybe I'll wait until Tuesday. Hello??? Three day weekend!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Turning Water Into Whine

I feel like a performer who doesn't want to go on stage today. Just kind of tired - like all I want to do is lie on the couch. I feel a really boring entry coming on, but today is one of those days that I'm just happy I'm actually sitting down and doing it. The thing that motivated me to finally start typing was the bottle of water sitting on the table in my living room. Yes, a bottle of water. I bought it at the farmers market this morning despite my doing everything else in the most environmentally friendly way possible - canvas bag, biodegradable plastic bags, returning the strawberry containers, and buying only organic food. Yet I bought this water. Well, I was thirsty! Yes, I should have a steel cup with ice water in it. But I didn't. I bought water.

My point is that I am hoping that I get to the point where I no longer do it. Where I refuse to do it. I hope I get to the point where I am always prepared and I never feel like I am going to deprive my thirsty child. The bottle of water sitting in my living room is the reason I wanted to start this. Bottled water is the reason this issue scares me so much. But right now, I know I'm still part of the problem. I want to get to the point where I am no longer part of the problem. So here I am, tired, cranky and wanting to watch my DVR'd episode of Project Runway. But I'm going to write about what's going on in my kitchen.

Is it common knowledge that using the dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand. I actually did know that, but I really had no idea how much until I read this:

Apparently you can save about 1000 of water if you run the dishwasher when it's full (I don't know about you, but it seems like mind is ALWAYS full). Everyone knows that you have to hand wash certain things every now and then. But I read a couple of interesting things that you can do to use less water when you do have to hand wash that I am going to adopt. One is filling the sink with water and using that to do the initial wash. The other idea was to use as little dish soap as possible so that you don't have to use as much water to rinse.

For a while now, I have been buying a huge thing of dish soap at Costco and then refilling a smaller dispenser that I keep by my sink. I'm not sure why I started this, but I always fill it with about half water and half soap. Now, I know you think I'm going to say that this was a waste of water, but I think it's actually been a water saver. The soap isn't as thick, so there is not as much rinsing. Let's face it, you don't need that much soap to get the dish or pan clean.

I'm going to force myself to drink the rest of that bottle of water I have sitting on the table. Before I can force this stuff down everyone else's throat, I've got to force it down my own.

Friday, September 4, 2009

In The Navy... La la la la la la!

So, I caught project runway during the second show and - as anyone with TiVo or DVR knows - I couldn't believe how much longer it took to watch something that hadn't been recorded. So, I hit the shower with plans to watch the rest of the program without commercial interruption courtesy of my beloved fast-forward button. Because, of course, my usual shower, from start to finish, would cause me to have enough wiggle room to breeze through anything I didn't want to see.

When I got out of the shower, my husband looked at me like I had four heads. "Wow! That was fast!" Given his surprise, my initial reaction was to call him out for obviously not reading my blog yesterday, because if he had, he might have guessed how I had pulled off such a superman-in-the-telephone-booth moment - the Navy shower!

That's right folks, I turned off the shower head whenever I wasn't rinsing. And while I did deprive myself of the frivolous back massage, it was not bad at all. Most important factor was that I was not cold like I thought I was going to be. And because the water was off, I made it a point to soap up faster so that I could turn it back on.

It's funny, unlike the toilet flushing, this is going to be a lot easier to get used to. I took a shower after my run today (I usually only take one shower a day, mind you, but yesterday was an exception. 90 degree weather and a 60 degree angle on the hill outside my house. You do the stinky math!) and I noticed myself feeling how wasteful it was to have the water running when I wasn't actually rinsing or using it. At that moment I had a flashback to my early twenties when I traveled around Europe and I had to pay for the water in my shower at this one youth hostle in Switzerland. Believe me, water suddenly did not become necessary for most of the shower when I had to take a walk of shame to put more money in the timer.

Anyway, I have never been brave enough to actually join the Navy - the least I can do is follow their rules to conserve water!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bathing Beauty

My friend left me a voicemail today reminding me of the saying "if it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." hahaa!!! I remember the first time I heard that expression... My friend from Kentucky told me about it and I think I regurgitated my lunch. Look at me now, teaching it to my little one!

I keep reading that one should "take shorter showers" when trying to conserve water. Of course, that is very logical, but is it just me, or does everyone lose all concept of time in the shower? I mean, believe me, I do not have a very strong concept of time to begin with, but really, when that hot water hits my back, everything else stops! Actually, I know I'm not the only one. I mean, all you have to do is go to home depot to see the wall of different shower heads promising to massage your back better than Red Door. That leads me to believe that I'm not the only one standing there dribbling for the first minute or so. Here's the skinny on water usage during a shower:
"A full bath tub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons. ... If you take a bath, stopper the drain immediately and adjust the temperature as you fill the tub"

10 to 25 gallons? Ummm, that's a big difference! Of course, it depends on how old your shower head is and whether or not it is "low-flow." Of course, this always makes me think of that Seinfeld episode... but if I can use 10 as opposed to 20 gallons, I'll just figure out a new hair style!

Of course, for anyone who is really serious, there's the "Navy Shower":

"A Navy Shower is 'the term used for a water-saving technique that was started in the Navy to help save precious freshwater aboard ships. The basic idea is to hop in the shower, get wet all over, turn off the water while soaping up, and then rinse clean. The small change in routine makes a huge difference: a regular shower can use as much as 60 gallons of water, while a Navy shower can check in at about 3 gallons.'"

Okay, so I know you're not reading this for the lecture. You're reading this to see what I am going to do, right? I am going to work my way up to the Navy Shower. Yes, folks. That's right. I'm going to turn off the faucet. Now let me just tell you this is not going to be easy for me. I get COLD, and I'm a huge baby about being cold. But, like I said, I am going to work my way up to it - or should I say "down"? Tomorrow morning, some time after my workout and before the 10 gun salute, I'm going to take my first steps toward a full on navy shower!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Reflex

The toilet flushing issue is a problem for me. I never before counted flushing the toilet as a reflex, just a voluntary act following whatever business one takes care of. But now, I say it's a reflex. And as far as a toddler is concerned, well it's just plain old fun. Water is fun in general. My little one thinks watering the plants with whatever is left in his cup is so much fun, he grumps at me when I tell him he can't give the plant his leftover milk. Of course, just when I thought he was really getting the purpose of putting our leftover water to use, I found him running back and forth to the plant with his cup from lunch while I was on the phone. He was filling it up with water from the bathroom - leaving the faucet on the whole time. Yeah, we're not perfect in this house, but we sure know a good time! The plant is loving life here.

Back to the toilet. The reflex of flushing. I wish I could take a poll of peoples gross meters. Is every other flush gross? I don't really think so. Is every three flushes gross? Maybe I should find out how much water the new toilets use and subtract that number from the number of gallons mine uses and only flush the number of times to make the two equal. Whoa! Did anyone understand that? We have friends coming to visit, so I think whatever plan I come up with will have to wait until they're gone.

In the meantime, My compost garbage (Still not using the garbage disposal, boo hoo) is making me think that I should start a blog about food conservation. I think we are wasting too much food!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

So, little did I know that, while I was here in my apartment asking the plumber to lower the water level in my toilet so it wouldn't waste water, a RIVER of water was gushing down my street. It seems PG&E was doing some work in the area and broke an apartment building's water pipe. Did I mention it was a river? Like, it put me in the mood for some tubing. Of course, when I asked the construction guy (who was part of the fix-it crew) how much water he thought it was, he raised his eyebrows and spoke out of the side of his mouth, "A lot."

Let me tell you, I really felt like a fool going home and insisting that we only flush every other time someone pees, or keeping a big pot of corn water on my stove to soak dishes when the Nile was winding its way around my neighborhood. The big issue for me, also, was that no one seemed to give a shit. I mean, I mentioned the fix-it crew, but they all looked like they were at a barbeque. I'm one little person. They were five big guys with a giant yellow excavator. Come on! Someone ring a bell or sound an alarm. This is an emergency.