Green Week Day 2: Using Less Water

July 17th

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Awesome shower timer shared in the Green Week photo pool.
Living in the desert, it is easy to use too much water. It shouldn’t be easy, but modern conveniences — such as air conditioning, swimming pools, an even landscaped yards — make water over-consumption the norm in Phoenix.
Your comments and ideas yesterday about using less paper were great. Collectively we know we aren’t going to change popular culture overnight. We also know that we are changing our behavior — the only thing we can control. Big change begins with small steps.
The small steps I’m making toward using less water are pretty darn basic. I wear a running watch all the time. I’m too lazy to have the battery in my dress watch replaced, so my Nike digital is permanently fixed to my left wrist. Not only does it clock my running times, but also my showering times. Four minutes or less is my goal, with the water turned off during non-crucial rinsing moments. I’ve lived without running water before; I also understand how easy it is to overlook this awesome household convenience when available. You’d think a girl who once hauled each drop of water she planned on using, by bucket, from a community well, over hilly terrain, wouldn’t need to wear a watch in the shower to be mindful about her water use. You’d be wrong.
Regardless, this week is about being more mindful and I’m working on it. Sounds like you are too! I’m also keeping a bucket in the shower to catch excess to feed my house plants. I’m not washing my car. I also recently helped campaign for my HOA to switch all communal areas in my community from sprinkler-fed grass to desert rock landscape.
Small victories! What are you doing to use less water?

~K

Posted in
Arizona, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
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22 Responses

  1. Four minutes! I swear it takes me four minutes just to rinse all of the conditioner out of my hair…
    I very rarely wash my car and we shut the automatic sprinklers off for our lawn and use a small (movable) sprinkler once a week.

  2. Thanks for all the good inspiration. I’ve decided to not water my grass this summer, except under the direst of circumstances.

  3. Water-wasting in the one thing that really annoys me – my biggest pet peeve, people watering their precious grass in the middle of a 90-100 degree day!! Back home in Australia they have water restrictions for all that kind of stuff and are hiking up the penalties for those who break the rules.

  4. Saving water is the hardest thing for me. It is also hard to explain that it needs to be done to the husband since we have a well and septic system. He thinks that because we don’t pay for it that we can use as much as we want.

    I don’t water any grass and just minimally water my vegetables about once a week or so.

  5. Jennifer July 17, 2007

    I grew up in CA in the eighties – drought era – so I’ve been doing some of these for years. We *rarely* wash our car (maybe 2x a year?). I only use the dishwasher every few days, re-using cups and glasses and plates (if all that’s on the plate is bread crumbs, does it really need to be washed?). Laundry is once a week, only two loads (cold water, but that’s an argument for another day). I turn off the tap when brushing my teeth. I shower (briefly) every couple of days (the side benefit to this is my skin is less sensitive and my hair is less dry and damaged – really!), and sponge-bathe as needed in between. No garden – but I do report leaky sprinklers in the common areas to apartment management (who by the way, times the sprinklers to run at dusk – yay!). However, I have to draw the line at flushing/not flushing the toilet according to – ahem- #1 or #2. It all gets flushed, thank you very much. Some things are not negotiable in my house.

  6. We’ve got a front loading washing machine, which uses a lot less water per load. It was our first large purchase of something to help the environment and I love it. Seriously. I bring visitors down to the basement to show them. Yep, I’m a complete dork.

    Also since we insist that the kids wash their own clothes, they hardly ever do laundry, which saves water. Not the reason we implemented the rule, but four kids rewearing clothes has gotta count for something.

    Also, I’ve decided (right this moment) to do the shower with the bucket thing. I’m going to get it now and put it in there.

  7. We never water our grass (what’s the point? it’s non-native anyway. *sigh*) but we do water our trees/veggies/flowers – but only in the evening. We use our water from our dehumidifier in the basement to water household plants or we pour it in our sump pump so it goes out into the yard for the grass. I’m trying to do the “if it’s yellow…” thing but I forget a lot. We don’t have a dishwasher so I don’t have to worry about that one! Oh and we fixed our broken toilets which saved us a LOT of water.

  8. We have a black car and a long gravel drive, so there’s not much point in washing the car often. : ) I don’t run the dishwasher or laundry unless the load is full. I’ve pretty much got the art of a quick shower down pat. We don’t water the lawn when it’s dry – at all. I do water my flowers. Yesterday I drug watering cans full of water all over so that I could water right at the base of the plant, instead of just hooking up the sprinker and spraying water everywhere. I am going to get a timer like in the picture for my 15 yo!!!!

  9. I don’t wash my car either, but that’s more from pure laziness than anything else. But from now on, I’m just going to say I’m saving water, and no one will know any different.

    I shower in around 5 minutes, but hubby takes forever. I like the timer idea, maybe I’ll put him on a timer.

  10. When I steam veggies I use that hot water right away to rinse off other dishes in the sink. This is especially great if I can time it with a sticky pan or something. That way at least that little bit of hot water goes to a good cause.

    I don’t have many plants but, I try to reuse some (cooler) water for that too.

  11. Water usage is something I need to think about more. Until recently I never thought about it, we have a well and septic tank, and I just didn’t realize the issues… I don’t wash my car, don’t water the lawn and I use dehumidifier water for the wash, but that is about it for now.

  12. I shower with a friend. One who happens to have a ring that matches mine, as it happens.

  13. ooooo
    i have to think about this one

  14. It’s sounds gross, but I saw someone else up there say it. And I’ve heard Cameron Diaz say it too (cause you know, celebrities are so in tune with the environment) “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.” It’s just one way to save water đŸ˜‰ We used to do it when I was a kid because we lived on an old farm with a well and couldn’t let it run dry during a drought.

    I also really love that bucket idea. I’m going to have to try that!

    Oh, and watering the garden really early in the am, or late evening saves water. You just water them more deeply and the plants get the moisture they need before it can evaporate like it will do if it’s really hot.

  15. being very conscious about using water.

    i like your idea of rock garden.

  16. even any good camper can appreciate not having running water. such an easy thing to save!

  17. I used a timer after I saw the timer posted on the Flickr group. I take a 10 minute shower, I’m going to try to do better.

  18. Since we have sooooo much rain here in texas right now, i keep my buckets outside and then use it to water the inside plants. I also make ice cubes with juice, turn the water off when brushing my teeth, pour my leftover drinking water into the dog bowl (if there’s any left), and finally I try to wax instead of shaving (this cuts down on shower time).

  19. That is excellent – well done! I like the idea of putting a bucket in the shower to catch excess h20 for the pot plants – I’m going to do it too – thx for the inspiration. I guess all it takes is one person at a time slowly gathering momentum to make a difference.

  20. We have a very small patch of grass out front, and its native grass we hardly ever have to water it, we use mostly native plants for decorating. We have plans to build a cistern that will catch rain water off of our roof. We will use this for watering and also when we don’t have water. When you live in the country you tend to lose water and power very often. I only wash my car once a quarter. I like the idea of the bucket in the shower, I’m going to start doing that.

  21. First, I think all American toilets should be changed to European ones. Each time I use one, I’m SHOCKED as to how much water there’s in them. You don’t need it all. Trust me. The owners of our apartment put a large glass in the toilet (not the bowl…the other part…what’s it called?) to hold water so that when we flush and it refills…there’s less water being used.

  22. A few new things I’ve started to do lately that let every drop of water do double duty:
    -Water left from boiling artichokes becomes soup base
    -Dirty dog dish water goes into the house plants
    -Melting ice from my post-run knee icepacks goes into the potted plants outside
    -Water left in my overnight water glass goes in the cat/dog bowls
    -Water left in my Nalgene at the end of the day goes in the dog’s work dish
    -Hot water left in the double boiler after baking (I recently melted chocolate for homemade brownies) gets soaked up with hand towels and used to wipe down the counters, stove, fridge and any other surface that could use a disinfectant-free cleaning

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