Gabbing today about using water wisely. Because water is integrated into almost every part of our lives and is used in almost everything we manufacture, water affects us on every level. And because water is a limited resource which we cannot live without, it’s vital we keep learning and remembering to use water responsibly. Tony reminds us that because water is so readily available in this country we must be mindful to use what we need – not what we have.
Water Wisdom in and Around Our Homes
As we look around our homes there’s a lot of things we can do and changes we can make in our homes to conserve water and use it more wisely. One of the first things we can do is simply turn the water off when we don’t need it. Tony recalls a time twenty to thirty years ago when most of us didn’t think anything about letting the water run while brushing our teeth. Today most people are mindful of simple behavior modifications like turning off the water when brushing your teeth, shaving, lathering up in the shower and putting shampoo in your hair. These practices literally save thousands of gallons of water.
Other good practices include filling up the sink with rinse water & rinsing all the dishes in one basin of water rather than keeping the faucet running. You can then use the rinse water to water your houseplants. Running a full load in the dishwasher or waiting to wash a full load of clothes in the washing machine are other simple habits we can all adopt. Likewise, using the quick cycle on lightly soiled clothes can also save water. Doing something small all adds up over time.
Furthermore, it’s important to be aware that we also use a lot of water outside our homes. Not letting the hose run when washing your car is a good habit or better yet washing your car in one of the car washes that recycles the water from previously washed cars is even better.
Tony points out that nothing uses more water and energy than maintaining the perfect lawn. In seeking a solution to this problem, Marla and her husband recently installed drip hoses in their yard. They also try to choose native plants that don’t require a lot of water, fertilizers, and pesticides and require less maintenance. Marla also adds that hand watering your lawn and garden uses less water as well. Purchasing rain barrels and planting rain gardens are other considerations for water conservation.
Marla recalls a prior Green Gab podcast where she interviewed The Shelton Group about a public service announcement called “Wasting Water is Weird.”
The video used humor in pointing out the absurdity of running an empty dishwater or letting the hose run while washing the car because – wasting water is weird!
Water Wisdom in Building, Home Improvement, and Remodeling
Marla goes on to say that as we look at our homes and how to live most comfortably and most effectively, water needs to be a part of the conversation.
When building, or remodeling a home Marla encourages people to choose low-flow or WaterSense labeled fixtures. WaterSense is an independent third-party (EPA) verified certification that guarantees the plumbing fixture, faucet, or toilet meets the low-flow requirements set forth by a certain standard. WaterSense is basically the “energy star” of water and the products can easily be found online, at any big box store, or a local plumbing supplier.
A big pushback from a lot of people on using low flow products was the problem with low water pressure. However, Marla explains that these products have been re-engineered. Faucets and shower heads now use an aeration technology that provides strong pressure and showers that feel as wonderful as they did before the transition to low flow fixtures. Likewise, the low-flow toilets of the 90’s are now muchly improved and work beautifully using a fraction of the water.
Tony shares a funny story about his grandfather making his own low-flow toilet by sinking empty mason jars inside the toilet tank. People today can fill soda bottles or purchase special bags online that hang on the side of the tank that takes up about a gallon of water. Think about it – a family of four each going to the bathroom five times a day would save 20 gallons of water every day. Marla agreed that there’s just no good reason to flush five gallons of good potable drinking water down the toilet every time we flush.
When building, or remodeling a home it’s also good to think about choosing a tankless hot water heater and being mindful of where plumbing lines are laid so everyone gets hot water without having to run the faucet for a long time. There are also whole house water conservation certifications through WaterSense and the Green Builder Coalition.
Marla states that “everything we do to improve our homes has multiple consequences and benefits.” Tony urges everyone to keep in mind just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible. National Geographic published, “only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to fuel and feed its 6.8 billion people,” so everything we do to conserve water helps people around the world. It might be as simple as turning off the water as we rinse our dishes or brush our teeth but whatever it is, each of us can do something, in taking a role in using water wisely.
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