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Saving Water (and my Sanity)

Save Water Card | www.myfoododyssey.com

Ah, marital bliss. It can’t be beaten. It’s a myth, though – right? Like perfection – something to aspire to but never quite achieve?
In our house we have a deal – one cooks and the other cleans up. You’d think that this would work well for someone who loves to cook – all the fun and none of the drudgery. Alas, it’s not so.

Firstly, I’m an incredibly tidy cook, cleaning as I go, so there isn’t much of a mess left by the time the plates reach the table. Secondly, the way Arūnas washes dishes drives me crazy. He turns the tap on full blast and more or less leaves it that way until he’s finished. (Insert silent scream here.)

I can’t abide waste of any kind and listening to all that beautiful water just gushing away makes me hopping mad. Arūnas, however, just doesn’t get it. “You and your bloody water”, he’ll yell as I reach in to turn off the tap. Marital bliss my ass.

One day I was reading the back of my toothpaste tube (call it bathroom boredom) and saw that it said “Try turning off the tap whilst brushing to save water.” What? I thought. Surely this is stating the obvious. Are there really people who leave the tap on while they brush? Then I thought back to Arūnas and the dishes and had to conclude there probably were.

After the most recent dish-washing incident I tried to think of ways to make the point about saving water to Arūnas. As it happens, he has a major “thing” about wasting electricity. He complains if you leave the light on in a room even if you will be going back there within a few minutes, so I went around the house and I turned on every single light. He noticed and the penny finally dropped.

Save Water Card | www.myfoododyssey.com

Recognising that not everyone is water-aware I decided to compile a quick (and hopefully not-to-tedious) list of water facts. In addition, and at the risk of stating the obvious, I have put together a few tips on how we can all save water.

Why bother saving water?

  1. To save money

    In Lithuania we have been paying for water for many years. There are two charges – one for delivering water and one for taking waste water away. My outdoor tap costs much less than my indoor taps as it is assumed I will use the water for plants and to feed animals and therefore it doesn’t go back into the pipes to be taken away. A similar system is currently being introduced in Ireland.
    If you live in an area where you are being charged for your water is pays to manage your water usage. Ever litre you run down the sink is literally money down the drain.

  2. We have a limited supply

    Water covers over 70% of the earth’s surface so it’s easy to think we have a never-ending supply. However, 97% of the earth’s water is salt water and not fit for human consumption. The process of desalinating water is currently cost prohibitive.
    Just 3% of the earth’s water is fresh water. Of that 3%, only 0.3% is available to us – the rest is trapped in clouds, polar ice caps or deep underground. This teeny, tiny percentage of fresh water needs to service the entire human population. A population that is expanding at a rate of knots.

    Earth's Water Supply | www.myfoododyssey.com
    Data from here.

  3. We have a lot more people than we used to

    The world’s population has jumped from 2 billion to 7 billion within the last 100 years and is set to continue to rise year on year.

  4. These people need to eat

    The water we use in our homes for cooking and washing pales into insignificance when compared with the water needed to produce our food. As the population expands, it is not just domestic water use that expands, but the water required to produce enough food for that growing population. The water used to produce food is known as virtual water. Typical virtual requirements for a variety of foods are shown below.

    Virtual Water Usage | www.myfoododyssey.com

    Data from here & here. A kilo is roughly equal to 2 pounds. A litre is roughly equal to a quart.

  5. Environmental Impacts

    Meeting the growing demand for water requires the building of dams which can have knock-on impacts on the environment, such as destruction of wilderness and altered stream flows. Many rivers, wetlands and bays are degraded, partly due to the high levels of water extracted, as well as pollution from the surface runoff water and storm water flushed into them.

5 tips to save water at home

  1. Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth or while you’re soaping your hands. You only need water to pre-moisten and then to rinse. If you live in a warm climate (or have good central heating), you can apply the same principle in the shower, turning off the water while you shampoo or wash.
    Domestic Water Run-off Rates | www.myfoododyssey.com
    Data sourced from my own highly scientific experiments.
  2. Don’t treat your shower as therapy. Yes, it feels wonderful to stand under a stream of hot water. Aches, pains and worries all seem to wash away. Reducing your shower from 10 minutes to 5 minutes could save 50 litres of water per shower. If you shower daily, that’s over 18,000 litres per year. Try unwinding with a good book, a movie or a nice long walk in place of the nice long shower.
  3. Don’t wash dishes under running water. Put a small amount of water into a basin or bowl and wash with that. Set the dishes aside and rinse them all at the same time rather than individually. This works particularly well with cutlery.
  4. Save the water you run off to get the water running hot. Use it for cooking, to fill your toilet cistern or to water plants.
  5. Think about your laundry needs. Do you really need one wash for whites, one for colours and one for delicates? Do you really need to wash your towels at high temperature? It might not be good to wash delicate panties in a hot cotton wash but your jeans will definitely survive the delicates cycle. If they’re as old and faded as mine they won’t run, so there’s no need to worry about separating colours.

5 tips to save “virtual” water

  1. Drink water.

    It might sound counter-intuitive, but it takes a lot less water to produce a glass of water than it does to produce a glass of fruit juice, wine, tea or coffee. If you replace even 1 cup of coffee per day with a glass of water, you’re saving over 50,000 litres of water per year.

  2. Don’t waste food.

    One Australian study found that Australia wastes about 2.2 million tonnes of food a year and that this food contains sufficient virtual water to supply all households in Sydney and Melbourne with enough water for a year.
    Plan your weekly menu (or an approximation of it) before you shop and only buy what you need. If you find you always have leftovers that you never use, try cooking smaller portions. Supermarkets are adept at making you buy and cook more than you need by pre-packing meat in trays and suggesting serving sizes on the sides of packets. If you find you have bought more than you need, freeze some for another day.

  3. Consider the virtual water required by individual food types when planning your food shopping.

    Consider chicken, pork and goat meat as alternatives to lamb and beef. (Lamb requires twice as much water as pork. Beef requires three times as much.)
    There is an iPhone app available which shows the virtual water requirement of a wide selection of foods. I have not tried it and am not on commission (which is why I’m not providing a link), but it looks like a useful shopping aide. Search for “virtual water”.

  4. Eat meat less often.

    Try sustainably sourced fish, cheese and eggs as alternatives to meat. Maybe try making lunch a meat-free meal and save your meat for dinner.

  5. Use less electricity.

    The average American uses 670 gallons of water a day for electricity, since energy plants require lots of water to cool their systems. Turn off lights and electrical devices when not in use. Only plug your phone in when it needs to be charged. Only boil as much water as you need.

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33 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on chrllrobb and commented:
    I am playing catch up on some of my posts that I follow. This one is a good post to reblog. It can be for anyone, anywhere in the world. I know I waste water now and then. We all do I am sure. I try to safe when I can. There are a lot of good points and suggestions here.
    Stay Safe and God Bless!

    Like

    December 9, 2015
  2. Anne T #

    Here is a tip that may help as you have to pay for water coming and going…. In response to the drought here in California my hubby has rigged up the washing machine drainage to a 60 gallon barrel. We switched to a biodegradable washing soap and now all our washing water goes into the garden (not the bleach loads). It is perfectly safe for flowers and vegetables. I was amazed at how much water one load of wash uses. With just the two of us I get enough water to keep my flower beds and greenhouse going. Anyway, it works for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 8, 2015
    • Thanks Anne! We’ve been trying to collect rain water for the plants but we’re not getting enough at the moment. We use biodegradable washing liquid anyway so I’ll see if I can rig something up to the washing machine.

      Like

      June 8, 2015
  3. hm… I must admit that in this sense I’m a water waster. I can turn off water while brushing my teeth, but a constantly running water is a must for me while doing dishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 4, 2015
    • It’s not a “must”, Asta, it’s just a habit. You can break it if you try!

      Like

      May 4, 2015
  4. Pat Macken #

    In our house we have a deal too… I drive to the pub, my wife drives home.. 50/50 all the way.. I firmly believe in equality.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 28, 2015
    • We have a similar deal, Pat, only in reverse. Arunas likes to drive – who am I to argue?!

      Like

      April 28, 2015
  5. Excellent post. When I was young water on tap was not always available and if the tap was running it was not always potable, or drinkable. Clean water on demand is a gift I am always grateful for. I realize this is not true for many of my fellow citizens. They do not understand. Thanks for telling it like it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 28, 2015
  6. Great post and very informative. Here in the US and I am sure many other places, it seems we waste so much, water included. With the ever growing population of our planet, now more than ever we need to conserve our resources. We are on a well, but I try and conserve my water usage even if we do not pay for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 28, 2015
  7. Great post, we save water and electricity as much as possible here in South Africa. Both are expensive and scarce.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 27, 2015
  8. Vilija D. #

    We live in California which is in its 4th year of drought. Only 6%of normal snowfall in the mountains this past winter. Snow melt is what fills the reservoirs for our water use. Some cities in the state are saying they have only one year of water left for basic use. And still there are the water wasters! Water conservation is in the news just about everyday. Maybe when people turn on the tap and nothing comes out, they will get it. Maybe. Be thankful for every drop you have! Such a great post you put out today.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 27, 2015
    • Thank you Vilija – glad you enjoyed it! Hopefully the message will get through little by little and people will start to be a bit more thoughtful about their water use.

      Like

      April 27, 2015
    • Sue #

      The Guv. loves to tell us we are in a drought in CA. but I lived through the real drought in the 70’s and believe me CA., by comparison, is not in a drought. I just use water wisely and don’t worry about it. The earth goes through cycles and it will pick up again if there is a drought.

      Liked by 1 person

      May 4, 2015
      • I’m lucky never to have seen a drought. I reckon you’re right – if we all just use water wisely we should be ok.

        Like

        May 4, 2015
  9. What a brilliant post! It horrifies me how many people are reckless with water …. it really is vital to educate from an early age. As for your hubby …. love your approach to getting the penny to drop 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    April 27, 2015
    • It was quite funny because he was so confused at first, asking was I ok like I might have banged my head or something. It was only when he saw my nonchalance that the penny dropped!

      Liked by 1 person

      April 27, 2015
  10. Bravo! Brilliant post.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 27, 2015
  11. Apparently the French shower very differently to us – they switch off the water to soap themselves and then rinse themselves off.

    Liked by 2 people

    April 27, 2015
    • We do that too, Lorna. Maybe we picked it up on our travels through France!

      Like

      April 27, 2015
  12. Before we came back to farming, Brian used to cook and I used to wash up / clean. Now I do both. Our dishwasher has been on the blink for a while and yes, I’m afraid I do let the water run when washing up – not fast but it is usually going!!

    Liked by 1 person

    April 27, 2015
    • SHAME on you, Lorna! Have you no basin?! Or even a stopper? I bet you still use less than the dishwasher, though.

      Like

      April 27, 2015
      • I know – its supposed to be temporary! Hate basins and threw out stopper 2 weeks ago by mistake! Will get new one on Wed I promise 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        April 27, 2015
  13. June, Great post. I grew up seeing my grandmother save everything because everything could be reused in some way. My dad insisted growing up that we turn off the shower while we shampooed and washed and then turned it back on to rinse. I appreciate the reminder that we still need to conserve water. I’ll be making an effort to put many of your suggestions into practice. If we all do a little, we can make a huge difference. And is it really adversely affecting our life by shutting off the water while we brush our teeth? But we are making a HUGE difference in water conservation! I hope more people take some of your suggestions to heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 27, 2015
    • Thanks! You’re right – there is absolutely no down side to turning off the tap while you brush. It’s just a habit and if we can break it we’ll all be better off in the long run.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 27, 2015
  14. Oh June, you made me laugh…. your house sounds just like mine! The running tap while washing dishes drives me insane…. but I’m also the one who goes around turing off the unnecessary lights …. I need to think of an alternative strategy……

    Liked by 1 person

    April 27, 2015
    • I reckon it’s actually a trick they use to get out of washing the dishes, Margaret. I almost caved!

      Like

      April 27, 2015
  15. Susan V #

    June, you really make me laugh. For starters, I do not know of a single American (besides me) who turns off the water while brushing their teeth. Secondly, if you saw my root cellar a few months ago, you would understand why LIthuanian don’t hesitate about wasting water. There’s too darn much of it flowing in those underground rivers– flooded basements are a much bigger problem. Having said that, my husband is known to turn off the shower while lathering up. At first I though he had taken the shortest shower in history. Alas, no, the water came back on after a few minutes. I had a landlord a few years ago who commented that we had the lowest water bills he had ever seen. A few flow restricters on the faucets, short showers, washing laundry only when clothes were actually dirty, and turning off the water while lathering dishes and brushing teeth cut our bill in half. As for the lights, my husband does the exact same thing, sometimes even leaving me sitting in the dark while eating dinner. Go figure….it must be in the blood….

    Liked by 1 person

    April 27, 2015
    • That’s so funny, Susan. Arūnas does the same thing in the shower – the water is on and off constantly. But when it comes to dishes or washing cars he really lets rip!

      Like

      April 27, 2015
  16. What a great post. I would add one thing: don’t drink bottled water. It is safe to drink water from urban water systems and homes on wells in North America and Europe and in most urban areas around the world. Carry a water bottle instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 27, 2015
    • Agreed, Bunty. Preferably a reusable non-BPA plastic. We’re lucky that our water tastes very good – no need for the bottled stuff.

      Like

      April 27, 2015
      • Susan V #

        So true. And well water is full of minerals, chlorine free, and fluoride free. The healthiest choice by far. No more bottled water for me!

        Liked by 1 person

        April 27, 2015

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