It’s official-drought season is upon us! Well, at least us here in California. Sadly, I don’t even remember when I last saw rain. So I thought I’d share some water –saving techniques I’ve learned over the years. Some of them hail back a couple decades and some I’ve come up with in recent years.
Tip #1 – Rain – catch it!
One big tip is, when it rains – catch it! I’m sure neighbors snicker a little as I fill my patio with every bucket and large vessel at my disposal but catching rain means good fresh water for your garden and lawn. If it happens to rain so much your buckets fill and your garden doesn’t need watering as much, start using your rain water for laundry. During my last memory of rain, I was able to catch enough rain to do a couple days worth of laundry. Obviously if you have a front-loader washer, this trick won’t work.
Tip #2 – Saving water in the shower.
I keep a 5 gallon bucket in my shower. While my shower water heats up, I catch water out of the shower head directly into the bucket. The water continues to collect, in lesser amounts during the shower. I then use it to water my outdoor plants or to do laundry. It doesn’t seem like this would amount to much but the first week I did this I salvaged nearly 80 gallons of water! All that, just waiting for my shower water to heat up. Over the course of the year, that comes to over 4,000 gallons of clean, fresh water. Imagine how much water you could catch if you had a family of 6 showering every day. You may even save a little money on your water bill. Also, shutting off the water while you soap up or shave is a great way to save water.
Tip #3 – Boiling or steaming? Save the water!
Many of the foods we eat are prepared by way of boiling or steaming – pasta, potatoes, green beans, peas, artichokes, broccoli and the like. But don’t throw that water away – instead, let it cool and use it to water your lawn or other outdoor plants – they will love it!
Tip #4 – Collecting “gray water” in the kitchen.
We all use a great amount of water in the kitchen – washing, preparing, washing some more. But not all of that water has to go down the drain. Keep a bucket in the corner of the kitchen and see how much you can save over the course of the day. Here are some liquids your garden will be happy to have and net you some savings:
– When rinsing a cup, bowl or pot, instead of letting the rinse water go down the drain, pour it into the bucket.
– Partially consumed beverages – milk, coffee, tea, juice, punch, soda, beer, water or wine.
– When rinsing out recycling, pour the rinse water into the bucket.
– Items such as those in Tip #3.
– Expired milk or flat soda.
– When rinsing fruits or vegetables, do so with a colander set over a bowl so the bowl can catch the rinse water.
Tip #5 – Shower with a friend.
Tip #6 – Got fish? Use that water.
Next time you siphon water from your fish tank or bowl, pour it onto your lawn or garden. Plants LOVE fish poo.
Tip #7- Rain gutters catch it for you.
As rain falls on your roof and collects in the gutter, it flows to a downspout and away from the building. Why not use this rain? After a couple of days of rain or when the gutter water seems a little cleaner, place a bucket under the downspout to collect the water. Use the water on your lawn, garden, toilet or laundry.
Tip #8 – Catch all year.
We all want to conserve when it comes time to do so but employing techniques such as these year round will help to ensure we don’t have restrictions as frequently. Remember, nature recycles water for us – for free.
Tip #9 – Involve the kids.
Kids are never too young to learn about conserving resources, collecting water or measuring rainfall. Make it a fun game. Have them help collect their own shower water or move smaller sized buckets around within the house and outdoors. If your kids are older, maybe have them make a chart showing how much water was saved over the course of a day (also makes a cheap science fair project).
Tip #10 – If it’s yellow, let it mellow: if it’s brown, flush it down.
I know, I know, it’s a weird subject but we all have to go, sometimes several times per day. And reserving your flushes strictly for bowel movements will greatly reduce water consumption. Even with low flow models, toilets consume a lot of water. While this tip may be a little less convenient for larger families sharing a single toilet, if you have your own private toilet, it shouldn’t be an issue. Also, if you use this technique, be more mindful of your toilet paper consumption or throw the toilet paper in the trash so it won’t build up in the toilet.
Every little bit counts so pat yourself on the back for all you do!