Simple Ways to Save Water

by Jenni

If you’re like me, you’d like to help conserve our natural resources, but sometimes aren’t sure where to start. Water–that clean, clear, life-giving liquid–is one of our most vital and precious elements on earth. Without it, we would not last long. Yet, with our turn-of-the-tap convenience, it is mindlessly easy to waste water without even thinking twice.

I love this devotional thought from Francis of Assisi, who celebrates the Creator through his admiration and care for water:

“Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.”

So whether your motivation is to trim your water bill, preserve the planet for future generations, or like Francis, to honor the Giver by being a good steward of His gift, trimming your personal & household water consumption is worth the effort. There are 101 ways to do so, but here are the top five habits I’ve been using lately to save water:

1) Lessen Irrigation: Let’s start big. It takes thousands of gallons of water to keep a lawn green, so any changes here can make a major impact. This beautiful property we’re renting came with extensive lawns and gardens. Watering it all takes huge amounts of H2O. So we’ve been trimming back frequency & length of our waterings to find that balance of keeping things green on the bare minimum.This experience has me thinking about how to use xeriscaping (water-conscious landscape design) when we own a house again someday. Many people are tearing out their lawns and replacing them with native plants which require less water or vegetable gardens which provide food. Whatever your yard set-up, consider what practical steps you might take to avoid wasting water. Now that summer’s heat has waned, it’s a great time to trim way back on irrigation.

2) Fewer Showers: In our household, we really like long showers. So when I took notice of my overconsumption of water a few years ago, I tried triming my 15 minute shower in half. But but rushing through the lather & rinse ritual was a bummer way to start my day. So instead, I turned the water pressure down a bit and switched to showering every other day, effectively cutting my shower-water usage in half and keeping my morning pace relaxed. At first, my hair was a little oily on the second day, but it acclimated within a couple weeks. On the occasional greasy hair day, I’ll wash my bangs in the sink or put it all up in a bun, pony tail, or hat.

3) The Selective Flush: This may be too personal for some of you, but we’re diving in anyway: I don’t flush every time. There’s an old rhyme, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” Each flush of the toilet sends about two gallons of water down the drain. Our friend David is the assistant water master for the Oregon Dept of Water Resources; he told Seth when we moved here that we’re “flushing our toilet with bottled water” since our water comes from Opal Springs, the source used for EartH2O brand water. Now there’s a word picture to get me thinking how precious that water is! Of all people, pregnant ladies like me–who are emptying our compressed bladders at least once an hour it seems–would do well to follow this guideline. Basically, when I’m in the privacy of my own home, I only flush every 3rd time or so. Don’t worry, I won’t do this at your house or my place when you’re visiting…unless you’re into that sort of thing. 😉

4) Use It Twice: For watering houseplants and potted plants on the porch, I often use leftover water from the kitchen. A pot of water used to boil corn for last night’s dinner, stale tea kettle water, partially drank glasses after a dinner party…all good sources of still usable water. I even think the houseplants might appreciate the variety!

5) Turn It Off: Whenever washing hands, brushing teeth, washing dishes, I try to turn off the faucet while not in use. Get wet, turn it off while you lather and scrub, then turn it on again for a quick rinse. My training in this art is always reinforced during our annual visits to a rustic log cabin in the mountains where everyone’s careful not to overtax the delicate septic system.

So there you have it. These steps are pretty basic and easy. Not a big sacrifice, but it does make a difference. There’s a host of other simple, practical ways we can save water! One thing I’d like to start soon is keeping a bucket at the shower and sinks for catching the water that runs while we’re waiting for the temperature to warm. This can then be used for a host of purposes, and I think it would make a significant difference in our total water usage.

Your Turn to Come Clean: What are you doing to conserve water these days? Have you tried any of these steps? I’d love to know I”m not the only one exercising “The Selectvie Flush.” 🙂