Thursday, August 30, 2007

Green Workshop Part 1: Water

So water was the first workshop. Wow, I was hanging on Barent's (the instructor) every word. "Water will be the next major impetus for conflict; Australia is currently in the middle of a drought which has forced entire cities to move, the country to start recycling their sewage water, and start the process of desalination; It takes the water equivalent to 6 months of showers to make 1 pound of beef." All of these facts have such a direct effect on our immediate futures. What's more crazy is that all the changes are so simple and totally within reach of an average citizen.

There is so much information, these are the things that stuck with me....

My Toilets:
Leaks - I'm so glad I found out about this test, because we have 1 leaky toilet. To test for a leak, we were asked to drop some food coloring (I used some India ink) into our toilet tanks, to wait, and see if the coloring "leaked" into the bowl. Sure enough, it did. We are scheduled to change it this week. A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons per day.
Lo flow toilets- This means 1.6 gallons per flush which is standard now. Luckily, we had all standard toilets. I think the old standard was over 3+ gallons, which is double! We are also practicing "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

My shower:
Lo flow/hi pressure shower head - The concept behind this is like putting your thumb to a hose so that it sprays out, but with less water. So surprised that this was not a big deal for us taking a shower. We were still getting clean.
Turn off water while we shampooing and soaping - Our shower head also came with an on/off attachment which we hardly used until recently. It's not so bad now that it is summer and it seems at 2.2 gallons per minute, I am saving quite a few gallons. Also made me take a quicker shower.

My sinks and dishes:
Aerators - Same idea as the lo flow shower head. Already standard on all our bathroom and kitchen faucets, but we still need to do this on our garden hose. They are also like 2 bucks at the hardware store.
Do not use garbage disposal to throw away food. Scrape food off into the trash or compost. - This is so terrible because the disposal is what we are led to believe is the right thing, but that waste actually goes to the water treatment facility which then needs to filter out the food. We may try to start composting, but in the trash for now.
Operate the dishwasher when completely full- I don't have a functioning dishwasher, but I understand that it uses less water than washing by hand. This is also the case with our car - going to a car wash saves more water than washing it yourself. Absolutely fine by me!

My laundry:
Operate the laundry when completely full - It uses almost the same water and energy to do a smaller load.
Use only cold water to launder clothes - Today's laundry detergent is advanced enough to do the real cleaning. I tried this and my clothes were fine. I also started committing to doing laundry at night when it's less pressure on the energy grid. I also dried my t-shirts on a drying rack in the garage through the night. The rest of my clothes have been going in the dryer, but have been taking less number of minutes to dry therefore less energy. Kinda feels like a cool game at this point!

My garden (which doesn't really exist yet, but we are planning it now!)
Plant drought tolerant plants - I'm really excited about this one. I have a black thumb. But I am discovering through the Theodore Payne Foundation, that I can still have a garden of native plants meant for this Southern California desert!

A few more better habits:
Eat less beef - This was a surprising one. It takes water equivalent to 6 months of showers (12,009 gallons) to make 1 pound of beef! Crazy!
Allow frozen foods to thaw out in the refidgerator - rather than running them through hot water, which the way we did it growing up.
Use reusable water bottles - I bought us Siggs (I bought the one in the pic above), really fun aluminum water canteens. They aren't plastic so they won't make your water taste weird after it's been opened and sitting.

It's a bit of a hussle to do everything at first, but I always feel better after doing it.


Anonymous said...

emilyn i miss you, this lastes blog entry is si inpsiring! cant wait to talk to you in person. lets do coffee soon!


emilyn said...

hi david! these workshops have been real eye openers. i want to share the info because i truly believe we would all be doing it if we knew or were just reminded. yes coffee soon!

MetaMommy said...

Do you have a green bin for yard waste? If so, you can put food scraps in there :-)