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Image5river“When we were kids, we took one bath a week. We had to heat the water on the stove and carry it to the tub. We filled the tub once and then all of us used the same bath water. We each prayed we got to be first to take a bath.” A conversation with my mom.

In my mom’s day they used an outhouse instead of a toilet and they didn’t take showers. In my day, I have water heated by a hot water tank with water kept warm for my use 24/7. I have an indoor flush toilet and bathtub and a faucet in my bathroom with clean running water. In fact, I have two of all of these because I have two bathrooms.

When I started teaching earth science two decades ago — I couldn’t ignore my hypocrisy of teaching kids to be better stewards of the planet, and the fact that I took 20 minute showers everyday. I have made changes:

Image29gooseWhen I built my house I installed low flow faucets and shower heads and toilets and bought a front load washer. This automatically cut my consumption in half.

I have shortened my showers and I take one every other day.

I put a bucket in the shower to collect the first bit of colder water and later use this to flush my toilet.

If it is yellow, I let it mellow, and if it is brown I flush it down.

I turn the water off when I am brushing my teeth.

When I do the dishes, I collect the first cold water and use it to water my plants. I only put a little water in the sink basin. As I rinse the clean dishes I do it over the washing side and slowly this side fills up. I turn the water off while I’m washing and only back on while I rinse.

I put left over cooking water on my compost/plants. If it is still hot I pour it on weeds for a natural weed killer. (Obviously be cautious when pouring it is HOT.)

Instead of watering my flowers with a hose I use the water from my dehumidifier.

I dump the icky water from the cats’ dish onto my (non edible) plants.

Image1heronIf I look at just changes in taking a shower how much water do I save a year?

Less/shorter showers 3 gal/min X 15 min = 45 gals/day

Reclaim 3 gallons in bucket for toilet  1.5 gal/day

So per year: 16,972.5 gallons of water — that’s just changing my showering habit. Times that by a family of four or a community of 11,000. We’re talking some serious numbers. And remember I already cut that in half by having low flow shower heads.

Now let’s consider what else changed by NOT using that water:

The water did not go down the sewer to the sewage treatment and then the water treatment plants — less energy used thereby lowering the carbon footprint and reducing issues with climate change. More chlorine and chemicals did not need to be dumped into the water to purify it. To anyone like myself with MCS I can’t tell you great that is.

Less water was polluted with shampoo and soap.

The water didn’t need to be heated by my water heater. Again, less energy used equals less carbon foot print…

Image2waterworksWe can take it a step further. The energy needed to heat my water came from gas which required a lot of energy to remove it from the ground and to be transported to a facility to prep it for my use. Along the way, if less gas has to be transported there is less chance of “oil” spills from tankers or wells or ships. I’m thinking now how happy all those bald eagles and otters and fish are that they didn’t get coated from oil from an oil spill prevented by my taking a shorter shower.

Of course, we could also go the standard it saves me MONEY — oh and I had more time to write this post.

It doesn’t matter if you read my posts on love or global renaissance — they are the same to me — raising our consciousness to a new level — rethinking how we treat each other and the planet which sustains us.

When I taught, I had my students keep track for 24 hours of much water they used. Before they collected data, they recorded how much they thought they used. They then recorded the number of times toilet flushed, minutes water ran, loads of laundry, etc. The predicted value and the actual values were usually extremely far apart. What about you, how much water do you think you use in a day? or a year? How much of it is wasted?

What do you do to conserve water? Is there a shortage of water where you live?

This 8 minute TED video shows how just a shift in thinking can be profitable for both humans and the planet.