Photo by Imani on Unsplash

What Are You Doing to Save Earth’s Water?

Practical stuff we can all do that helps. My new SIC it method.

Rich Sobel
Oct 30, 2019 · 7 min read

It’s a hot summer day and the kids are out back playing in the pool, splashing each other and having a great time shouting and laughing. Water is going every where. And there’s no way you want to stop that, right? Or should you? Should you even think about it at a time like that?

Maybe you’ve noticed the increase in the size and number of tragic fires. In BC, we’re calling it the new summer norm. Our forests are are very dry and fires that range over thousands of hectares of trees start with hardly any instigation and fill cities hundreds of kilometres away with air polluting smoke.

Maybe we do need to think about it a bit more.

How many ways do you know to reduce your water footprint and help to stop global warming?

A certain 16 year old, Greta Thunberg, is certainly doing a lot!

Which made me sit back and ask myself; How about me? What am I doing these days?

So I’ve decided to look at a typical day, examine all the instances when I use water and in each instance, ask the question; Is this the best I can do?

If the answer was yes, as far as I can see, then I just moved on to the next instance of water usage. If the answer was no, then I asked myself the next question; Am I willing to do something to make it better?

If the answer was yes, I moved on. If the answer was no, I used my new SIC it method. (Strategize, Implement, Conserve it)

So here’s my water usage and how I SIC it during a typical day.

Let’s start with the bathroom.

The rest of the day, we have a large and small flush option toilet so urine gets the small flush and poop gets the big ones. I also try to conserve toilet paper; 3 squares per wipe.

Toothbrushing: I have a fairly complicated tooth care regime because many years ago I lost 2 teeth and had a bridge put in. I start with flossing. I have to use Super floss* to get under the bridge. Ok, I’ll admit it; I’m a bit weird, I use these guys many times over. I do the floss thing under the bridge, turn the water on, give it a quick rinse, turn water off and hang it to dry until next morning.

Next is flossing the rest of my teeth. No water needed here.

Finally getting to brushing. I Don’t let the water run while I brush my teeth. I wet my toothbrush, turn off the water, put toothpaste on the brush and brush my teeth. Then turn water back on to rinse my mouth and brush.

A quick hand rinse and I’m done.

No room for improvements here that I can see. Any suggestions of what I might be missing?

Showering: Turn on shower, get all wet. Turn off shower and soap up. Turn water back on and rinse off. Turn water off when done. None of that revelling in the hot water for 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, I’m not willing to do turn off the water when I’m soaping up. My bad here. It’s one of my indulgences and I just don’t feel guilty enough on that one to give it up, yet!

At some point, we’ll install a low-flo shower head and then I can stop worrying about that one.

Taking a Bath: Actually, this can be really efficient if you use the least amount of water needed to bathe and rinse. Or take bath and then rinse with quick shower.

Washing hands or face: I turn on the water and wet my hands. Put a little on the soap. Turn off water. Rub the soap to froth it up a bit and then put on my hands or face. Or use a washcloth. Scrub. Turn on water to rinse soap off. Turn off.

That one seems pretty ok, too.

If all I’m going to do is wash my hands, I don’t worry about the water temperature. Whatever comes out of the tap is just fine.

On to the kitchen

I add a little extra for what gets boiled off. A. little. extra. And if you’re like me, you may want to use a bit for warming up your cup while your beverage brews. Measure that in too.

I discard any extra boiled water on dishes waiting to be rinsed before loading into the dishwasher. Which brings me to the next item.

Cooking: So many places here to save on water. I leave you to discover them as you cook. I just pay attention to how much I use and ask myself if I could do it with less. Example: I used to cook a package of pasta in a big pot with lots of boiling water because that’s what the package told me to do. Not any more. I can easily use almost half of the water suggested and the pasta cooks just fine.

Seek and ye shall find. Or maybe that should be SIC it or you will fined.

Dishes: Do you have a dishwasher with “magic” cycles or whatever. If they work, just load in and turn on. Your dishwasher may also have a water saving cycle. Try it if you haven’t. Might be just fine or need some pre-loading tweaking.

Rinsing can be done with minimal amounts of water and most of the time, cold water is just fine. Saves by not running the tap to get hot water and saves on the energy used to heat the water.

Hand wash your dishes? Great! But it can waste a lot of water. Plug the drain, add some water and soap and turn off the tap. Wash dishes in soapy water. Turn hot water on but just a bit more than a trickle. Experiment to see how little you can get away with. Make a personal competition out of it! Have some fun. Rinse dishes and put in drying rack.

Fridge water filters: Gotta say I love these guys! Your fridge gives you cold filtered water without running the tap. And most of them make ice cubes, too.

Drinking water: How safe is the water where you live? Where I live, we have some of the cleanest drinking water in the world and people still buy bottled water to drink! Why?! It just adds more plastic to the environment and the water isn’t any better for you. It’s not. Really.

And don’t be fooled by thinking the plastic bottles get recycled just because you put them in the correct bin. A report that came out recently showed that the recycling trucks in our area take more than half of their load to the landfill because it costs less than taking it to recycling. What happens in your area? Do you even know? I didn’t. I just assumed. Bad on me.

You want to drink cold water? Use the fridge tap if you have one. Otherwise, fill your glass and add an ice cube or two. No need to run all that tap water down the drain while waiting for it to get cold.

Outside

Lawns and gardens: It’s really ok if you don’t water your grass very much. Yeah, it might turn brown but as soon as it rains it perks right up again. And most people use the same water for gardening that they use for drinking. Umm, grass and flowers aren’t usually that picky.

Flower gardens do need a minimum amount of water or the flowers wilt. And we all love beautiful flowers. In our area, rain is quite infrequent in the summer and we have city ordinances with scheduled times and days of the week when you can actually water your lawn and gardens. You can be fined for not following the schedules. But there is another source of water you can tap into.

Saving rain water: Collect water during the rainy season from your downspouts into leak proof barrels and use that to water your gardens and house plants during dry periods. A bit more labour intensive but saves taking drinking water from our already over stressed reservoirs. Also will save a few bucks on your water bill. Hey, every little bit counts!

And that’s it for this time. I hope I planted a few seeds for future growth.

Until later,

Rich

Hey! Are you interested in biology news and fascinating/ cool stories — for yourself or to share with your friends or kids? Then grab my “Quirky Facts About Our Bodies” ebook here and sign up to get my weekly newsletter.

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Rich Sobel

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Rich writes about fascinating creatures and biological issues that affect our everyday lives. Get his free ebook at www.biology4everyone.com.

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