Last week Kathleen Shecter witnessed a crime scene. There was no blood or dead body. The crime was a crime against her community and future generations. Kathleen saw an older man power washing his driveway.
“Unless it’s a murder scene and you are the chief suspect and therefore washing away evidence against you,” Kathleen joked, “there is no reason to wash a dirty driveway.”
Only 1% of all the water on Earth is usable. The rest is salt water or frozen. The average family of 4 uses 400 gallons of water a day. That is about the same as taking 10 baths.
The nation’s water supplies and distribution systems are increasingly stressed by the public demand for water. A recent government survey showed at least 36 states are anticipating water shortages by 2013. By using water more efficiently, we can help preserve water supplies for future generations.
Kathleen, who is my green guru, offers the following helpful suggestions on simple ways to decrease water consumption on a daily basis:
1. Install a low flow showerhead for each bathroom. Most showerheads use twice the water needed for a thorough shower. Every day 3 billion gallons of water flow through showerheads in the United States.
2. Turn water off when brushing teeth. Why do we feel the need to leave it running? Water savings: 8 gallons per day.
3. Use the “old” water from pet bowls to water plants. Hey, the plants don’t care!
4. Make sure every load of laundry is a full one. Don’t wash partial loads. Water savings: 15 gallons.
5. Don’t rinse dishes. Just scrape the food off and then load. Run only full loads. Water savings: 2 gallons of water per day.
6. Use run off water. When I rinse produce in my salad spinner I remove the basket, dump the water into my watering can for later plant watering or dump it into plants right then. And then I spin.
7. Don’t wash your car at home. I wash my car at one of those self-wash places that recycle the water. It goes down a drain in the carport and gets recycled. No washing the car in the driveway for me. Water savings: 25 gallons.
8. Don’t power wash sidewalks, driveways, or decks. The number of gallons of water used in those high pressure gadgets is alarming. Instead I get out the stiff bristle broom, some good biodegradable soap and scrub with a bucket of water. Then you can use the regular hose to rinse. Hey, who needs the gym? Great upper body workout, and the calories burned……wow! Water savings: 22 gallons per week.
9. Don’t use the toilet as a “trash can”. This can save you 1.6 gallons daily. Be sure the toilet you DO have is low flush one. They use half the water for each flush. If you can’t afford to replace (though it pays for itself in the long run), put a brick in the tank. Does the same thing, low-tech. Water savings: 8 gallons at 4 flushes daily.
10. Don’t water the lawn or other landscaping at the peak of the day. I see so many sprinklers going off at noon! Water before 6am or after 8pm when the temperature is cooler. Be sure all sprinklers are in working order and that you aren’t watering the sidewalk! If it’s running down the gutter you are wasting water (and your money - be prepared for a rise in your water bill - it’s coming.) Water savings: 20 gallons per day.
This week for our Monday mitzvah join me in taking the 10 Gallon Challenge and shave 10 gallons off of your daily water consumption. What other ways have you found to save water?