June 12, 2007

Water World! And I'm not talking Kevin Costner...

Hello there Sew Greeners! It is I, your tired, blogging delinquent contributor Amber Clisura here to give you a little knowledge about the behind the scene concept for this month.

So one of the many of the things that we have been doing over here at SG is trying to create a framework around what it is that we are doing. Now this frame will sometimes compliment what is going on inside and sometimes it will just be a little thing that you, the Sew Green reader, should take an extra second to ponder for the month. This month we are starting (albeit it a little late) on the topic of:


It’s everywhere. We need it to survive. We get headaches if we don’t drink enough of it a day. Our food needs it to grow and our planet needs it to be in balance. It is the life force from which all things come. So it’s pretty damn big isn’t it?

We are hoping that this month you can take a second and observe your own water usage. Be conscious of what you’re doing. Maybe you’ll change it, maybe you won’t. We aren’t asking for anything but for you to just be open to consciousness. For our part we are going to bring you some articles that talk about virtual water consumption, perma culture pools and me? I’m going to give you 10 things that if you start them right now, not only will you be more conscious of the water you use, you will save money and water. Two things you can never have enough of in this big bad capitalist world we live within.

10. Carry your own water bottle. There is much talk about the benefits of drinking water. So do it in your own bottle and save money and the environment! Not only that but try to drink out of something that isn’t a Nalgene or a plastic bottles. Though Nalgene bottles are better than most they still off gas like any other plastic – just slower. Try a Sigg or like me, a mason jar with a lid. A little heavier but safe as can be!

9. Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year which will add to the cost of water and sewer utilities, or strain your septic system! It’s simple – check it out here, here or here. Just tightening the faucet isn't helping your problem so take the hour and save your planet!

8. If it’s yellow… you remember the adage don’t you? It’s valid all the time not just in drought conditions. Is it a little gross? Yeah sure it is… but the amount of water you save is amazing. Tally it for a week. Many old toilets flushing use about 7 gallons of water! Some of the newer toilets (80s and 90s) use 3.5 gallons to flush. If your landlord is super diligent then maybe, just maybe you own a toilet that uses only 1.5 to flush. On the average though a household can go through 147 Gallons of water just in toilet flushing alone! That’s almost 1800 Gallons a year! Don’t have a landlord who wants to replace the toilet? Can’t afford a new one? Easy – drop a brick in the tank and that cuts out about a gallon. Two bricks knock out two! Put the bricks in a ziploc bag or other durable holder. Bricks break down and need to be contained in order to avoid plumbing problems. Look for displacement containers at your local hardware store.

7. Don’t shave your legs/face/arms/whatever while you shower. It took me a LOOOOONG time for this one. If you can only do it while you are in the shower then turn off the water while you do it. Those five minutes of water (about 300 gallons a month) that you saved you can indulge in somewhere else.

6. Take a bath instead of a shower. Fill the tub 1/3 full and then scrub a dub dub! Use the final burst of showerhead time to rinse off. Done and done!

5. Use your gray water on plants! Fill a basin full of water for your dishes instead of keeping the water running. When done, take basin outside and water plants. No plants outside! Hang a planter box off one of your windows and plant bee loving flowers! The bees need the help right now!

4. Water your plants deeply and not frequently. This sort of thing promotes drought tolerance and creates deep roots. Also get a soaker hose for larger yards. This cuts down on over-watering and helps get water quickly to the area that needs it the most.

3. Never pour water down the drain. Ever. Where can you use it? There is another place for it. In your toilet, in your yard, in your houseplants… you get the idea.

2. Wash your hands in a basin. Fill up a small bowl and later your hands in that instead of running water.

1. (And since I’m a fashion diva) Wash your clothes in cold water and hang dry. Yes, even those cashmere sweaters! Turns out they don’t need dry-cleaning at ALL! Nope. Cashmere is just like the hair on your head. Washing it in cold with some Johnson’s baby shampoo and laying flat to dry is the best way to care for your cashmere (or any wool) sweaters. There are hand washing instructions here, here and here (use cold not hot water, color safe bleaches or environmentally safe detergents.)

I hope that this inspires you just a bit to look around your water. If you find that it is all too much – then just tell someone else to read this article. Maybe they will try one of these items out and save just a dash more water than was saved the month before. After all, every drop counts.


ms. pea said...

Thanks Amber! I can't wait to see what else the sew greenies will come up with this month.

Heather said...

Lots of great tips, except the one about the bricks. Bricks can deteriorate and cause expensive plumbing problems. In my city (Vancouver, BC) the city provides a heavy plastic brick-shaped container that displaces the water just as effectively and much more safely. Look for something like that in your area.

And even in Vancouver, where it rains all the time, we can have droughts in the summer. Water is so precious, thanks for your post!

Dutch Girl said...

Thanks for the heads up on the bricks! I should have mentioned to wrap the brick in a ziploc! I will do that now! You rock Heather!

therese said...

Hi, I just wanted to say that this blog is terrific!! I live in Norway, and have been wanting to start a 'green blog' for some time. I've been surfing the internet to find inspiration in other, related blogs, and was surprised at how few I found. This blog is the closest I get to what I had in mind. A truly inspiring project!

Tanya said...

I love this blog. Thank you very much for all of the great posts (from all involved). This one was terrific. We live in an area that gets enough rain so it is difficult to convince others to be cautious with their water usage. (Of course just 2 hours from here they have regular droughts, but appartently that is not our problem, aaggghhh!). Anyway this was very inspirational and recharged me, thank you!

s'mee said...

about the brick..you can recycle a bottle/mason jar filled with sand or gray H2O, capped and laid down in the tank.

on house plants...place them on shallow dishes that allow you to water the plants from the plate rather than from the top soil. They'll drink only what they need.

in the yard...try xeroscaping with native to your area plants. Many, once established, will no longer require water other than from "mom".

nikkishell said...

Great post Amber, i'm going to look for some Sigg bottles to replace our plastic water bottles.

louise said...

Great tips! I've already implemented most of them over the last couple of years, they make such a difference. It can be fun to check your water meter over the course of a week before making these changes then check it a few weeks later and just see the difference.

shash said...

thanks amber for an excellent intro! great tips!

cally said...

great intro amber.

i do have a sigg bottle but i'm often guilty of going with plastic for convenience, so you've encouraged me to get back to the sigg, and to buy another one for my bike.

it's worth reminding people using grey water that, depending where they live, they need to be careful about dish washing water that may have food in it that would attract rats etc if they put it in their garden. I use hot excess cooking water (usually from my lentils) to do a rinse of oily & food covered dishes and that goes down the drain, then the proper wash will have pretty good quality safe water to go in the garden.

tracy said...

great intro! we converted to SIGGs about a yr ago now - love them! and have a bucket in our shower too (thanks to gracia!) looking forward to more tips and info this month!

Jessie said...

hi there sew green!

i just want you to know that your blog is having its effects in my life! i turned off the water in the shower while shaving my legs today (conservation), reused the crap conditioner i bought the other day as shaving cream instead of throwing it out (reuse) and am experimenting with trying to figure out the least amount of product i can get away with using in my daily beauty routine. um, i figured that since most of my waste occurs in my beauty/ makeup spending, showering, etc., that would be a great place to start making a repair!

i'd also add my own tip: i only shower a few times a week, because i live in a country with water shortages, especially in the summer. americans/ anglos (?) are used to showering every day, but it's really not necessary. i don't stink and feel a little less guilty!

love the blog, if you can't tell-

gracia said...

Can we talk about Kevin Costner next time then? Whatever happened to him?
Great into to the water topic... can't wait to read more.

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