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Drought: Water Saving Techniques

03/17/2014

California has had a 150 year drought before. We’ve had water shortages for my entire life, and most years it seems like we don’t get as much rainfall as “average.” Therefore, every year we have to conserve. Conserving has its benefits including lower water bills, but it is a good thing to do for the environment as well. I’ll explain some ways you can conserve water at home, and then go into how you can save water at work.

The biggest water waster: the lawn and garden. It does not take very much water to keep your lawn green, if you water at the right time. Watering right after sunset and again about an hour before dawn for five minutes each. The water can soak into the lawn overnight and during the cool hours of the morning without overflowing into the gutter against city ordinances.

The next biggest water waster: bathing. We don’t need to wash every day unless you get really dirty during the day, like farmers or mechanics often do. For the rest of us, a shower every other day is actually better for us. Shampoos and soaps strip the natural oils from your skin which lotions and conditioners can’t replace. But more importantly, think of it in terms of water usage; by taking a shower every other day instead of every day you are literally saving 50% of your water every week. If you already take a shower every other day, put it off for one more day and save 33% of your water.

Another way to save water: Wash dishes in the dish washer. I know your mom probably told you to wash your pots and pans by hand. Mine did. It makes them last longer. However, washing by hand takes more water over fewer dishes. Load up the dishwasher as much as you can between washes, and run it on a short cycle if you can. To save energy, don’t use the heated dry option. If you don’t have a dish washer, only fill a pan with water instead of your whole sink. You don’t need that much water if you aren’t drowning your dishes in it. Instead, wash them out of the water with a good sponge or cloth, then quickly rinse them in hot water and set them to dry. If all the water you use is over 110 degrees, then you shouldn’t have to wait too long for it to dry and anything that was caked on should come off with just a little elbow grease.

Finally: if it’s yellow leave it mellow. That’s right; don’t flush the toilet every time you pee. Flush it when you poop, but not every time you pee. Pee is mostly water. Anything toxic or that can make you sick isn’t in your pee; its in your poop. You may have to wash your toilet a little more often, but that’s okay. But please, still wash your hands after every time you go, for health reasons!

Now, you are a business owner. You own a cafĂ© or a restaurant and you have to use a lot of water to keep up with health and safety standards. I get that. I wouldn’t want to eat off a plate that isn’t clean. But do you use a three compartment sink? You don’t have to fill up the soapy sink very full. Keep the water warm, but keep dirty dishes in the rinse sink. Only use soapy water to dip the scrubby, and scrub over the rinse sink. The excess water will pre-wash the dishes in it to help make scrubbing easier, and the soapy water will stay cleaner longer. Also, do you use a third sink compartment for sanitizing your dishes or do you use a machine? If you use both, only use the sink. The water in it is a set amount for four hours before it has to be replaced. Thus, it uses less water, and even less if you only fill the sink up about halfway.

But what if you are a florist? The flowers need water. Don’t over-fill buckets. Give the flowers just what they need for the day and make sure you don’t spill water on the floor. Nothing should go to waste.

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