Saving the Planet - One Drop at a Time
More and more catastrophic storms. Global warming. Droughts and floods. It seems that we have entered an era of extremes in planet earth’s saga.
With global environmental issues becoming bigger and harder to ignore, there are things we all can work on to help do our part. You may argue that we should stop making “the little guy” pay and change their habits when it is really the big corporations who exponentially consume that should be held to a higher standard.
But truly – if we are to continue to foster a planet for future generations to enjoy, we have to start somewhere. Being an example and teaching our children how to conserve resources is the first step to getting the “big guys” to listen; some of our children will eventually be in those positions of power and influence to enforce greater changes than we could ever imagine. All we have to do is give them the proper building blocks.
I am currently traveling through Australia, a country that has suffered terrible drought for over a decade now. So here in Oz, water conservation is not a nice thing to do for the environment; it is a necessity.
Here are a few ways you can save the planet, one drop at a time:
2 Minute Showers
You heard me: two minutes. Public showers at some campgrounds in Australia actually have timers. If you aren’t done in the allotted time, you will be one soapy dude for the rest of the day.
At home, you don’t necessarily have to complete your shower in two minutes. But see if you can run the water for just two minutes by turning it on and off as needed. Myscha wrote a great article about how to get the greatest use out of the least amount of water while sudsing up.
I’m sure it goes without saying, but if you aren’t tuned in yet, let’s get with the program! Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth, okay? It involves no sacrifice other than the laborious action of turning a tap on and off a few more times.
For anybody who has camped and had to haul their dishwashing water from a nearby river or tap or wash using a sink that’s way too small, you are already a good chunk of the way towards washing your dishes in a water-friendly way. Every kitchen is set up differently for washing dishes, so techniques for how to get those plates clean while using the least amount of water will vary.
One technique I have found useful is to fill the sink with rinse water (not too much!), and rinse dishes creatively instead of running the tap to do so. Use glasses and bowls to scoop up the water and pour it over the awkward dishes, killing two birds (or rather, rinsing two dishes) in one shot. And at the end, if your rinse water isn’t too grimy, leave it in the sink to soak your next set of dirty dishes.
For those with dish washers, seriously consider cutting down or eliminating your usage. It is a pig on both power and water, while ultimately being totally unnecessary for survival. At the very least, only use it when it is absolutely fully packed. Even then…
Watering Your Garden
Using a hose to water your garden is the perfect way to waste a ton of water. Instead, try using a bucket and scoop. You will concentrate your watering efforts on exactly the plants and spots that need watering, and you’ll get better exercise hauling the bucket. In Australia, this is how even some commercial growers water their produce; so you can too.
If you are an avid floral gardener (and thus not able to consume the product of your watering efforts as with a veggie patch), consider the types of plants you are landscaping with. If you live in a dry climate and plant with a water-hungry plant, you are doing no favors to anybody and satisfying no more than your own sense of aesthetics. Try instead learning about drought-bed techniques, and planting things that do well even in dry conditions.
For those with a new property and a small patch of lawn, try not laying sod down at all. There are lots of grass-free landscaping techniques that are very attractive, virtually maintenance free, and dry as a bone.
If It’s Yellow, Let It Mellow
Do you have to flush the toilet every time you pee? Arguably, no. Ladies: don’t use a half a roll of toilet paper (one or two squares will do – this is also environmentally friendly) to wipe, and you can get lots of extra mileage out of a toilet flush without clogging the pipes.
Catch the drips
Most taps drip, even if very slowly. Think about all the taps you have; outside taps for hoses are the biggest culprits. Bathtubs are close followers. Catch those drips! It may not be aesthetically appealing to have a bowl or bucket under the tap, but at least perfectly potable water won’t be wasted.
Every time you turn on the tap, think about how you can either reduce your usage, or get some extra mileage out of it by reusing it. Some people water their gardens with their gray water (from washing dishes with biodegradable soap). Others install water-saving taps and pressure reducers. By calculating how every single drop of water gets used, you can actually turn water conservation into a creative exercise that is stimulating and even enjoyable! Present it as a challenge for the whole family to participate in. Put the right slant on it, and saving the planet – one drop at a time – can create a more sustainable world for us to live in, and actually be fun too.