Thursday, July 22, 2010

Step Four: Collect Water

Part of the Going Lightly One Step at a Time Series.

We all know that water is a precious resource.  It is challenging to remember it , though, when we in North America can turn on the tap and it just flows out.  I heard Annie Leonard talking about this very thing in the recent Green Living Ideas, Green Talk Radio podcast where she was interviewed regarding her new book, The Story of Stuff.  Many of you know Annie's work through her fantastic talk made into a film that is available free online.  She has just released a book that details the information she gives in the film.  I can't wait to get it!  But I digress...

Annie was saying that it was hard for her, as a California resident, to recall that California is in their 10th year of drought when water is so readily available.  Our country rarely feels the effects of water shortage, but it is a growing problem that only becomes more precarious over time and certainly other countries have seen direct effects already.

So, of course, there are the gray water systems (not legal everywhere as of yet) and there are rain barrels.  We have one that is not yet in operation; we're still getting the few remaining pieces we need for it.  And I do think that, like a compost bin, everyone should really try having a rain barrel.  They're pretty low on the labor-intensive end of conservation.

But if you don't have a yard or space or time or whatever... you can still save water. Try not to think about it in terms of actually how much water you are saving, but the principle and motivation behind it.  If you have children, it is especially important that they see you participating in all ways - big and small - to conserve what is so important to all of us.

We have a pitcher under the sink for half-drunk water glasses left by kids or other guests.  I regularly use that on my two plants by the front door.  When the dry season is here, I also keep a watering can in the shower.  I have it sitting where the water is pointed so that when the water is running while warming up, it's not going down the drain.  You can do the same thing with the kitchen sink with that aforementioned pitcher.

Some people actually collect enough water in their showers that they can turn off the water leading to their toilet tanks and fill the tanks with the water collected passively around the house!  I think that's a great idea - especially if you work out of the home or practice limiting your flushing.

Our outdoor water spouts and hose connections are weird.  I can't explain  why they leak like they do (despite some changes we have made to them), but they do. So, we have a bucket that sits under the main one used to catch water too.  That water can fill the birdbath or the water the geranium in the pot out back.  I've also heard of folks who have put parsely or other plants under or around an outdoor faucet.  They get watered naturally whenever the hose is turned on.  I'll admit to trying the parsley, but my spot back there is too shady and that experiment was not successful.

So, nothing technical here (obviously!), but just a reminder to be on the lookout for little ways that you can save a little bit more here and there. 

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