Just One Thing Challenge #7: Water Conservation

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On with the next challenge! We continue to grow in ranks with almost forty signed up and many following along. Please sign up! Latter in the year, those signed up for my team will take on Oprah’s people in a cage match!

The last challenge was graciously sponsored by Strictly Organic Coffee who will kick in some free organic Hazelnuts (type Deep-Sea News Just One Thing Challenge into the Special Order Instructions box) with every purchase for the entire month of March. You should order some because the coffee is organic, shade-grown, free-trade, and the coffee pulp left over from processing (below) is composted. Most importantly the stuff tastes exceptional and will reduce the coffee you drink now to filthy swill.

This week’s challenge is to conserve water. Simple as that. Kevin has been harassing me about this for a while and the challenge seems like a good follow up to his post. Indeed, the waste of water really, really upsets Kevin. You really don’t want to see Kevin angry do you? Why would water conservation help the oceans? Increased water consumption and waste strains water treatment plants, sewage plants, storm-drain systems, decreasing their efficiency to remove pollutants from the water. That water runs into our rivers, streams, lakes, bays, and eventually oceans. Diverting water from rivers and streams reduces sand on beaches and can often choke coastal wetlands. Below the fold is a list of things you can do to conserve water.

Ongoing challenges can be seen here
People accepting the Just One Thing Challenge: 1. Craig McClain 2. Kevin Zelnio 3. Peter Etnoyer 4. Sheril K. 5. Mike G 6. Farne 7. Jim Lemire 8. Kiki 9. Fish Guy Dave 10. CK 11. Karen James 12. Merisea 13. Keely 14. tonyj 15. Traci 16. Mrs. Hillary Victoria Minor 17. Peter Mc 18. Tony D 19. Mary Aloyse Firestone 20. Miriam Goldstein 21.John 22. Judith in Ottawa 23. tjewell 24. Slim 25. Ashley 26. Silver 27. Steve W. 28. John Hill 29. Rachel 30. tjewell 31. Eric 32. jebyrnes 33. Lynna Landstreet 34. Ole 35. Carrie 36. Max 37. Marsh. 38. Summer 39. You?


Much of this list is from Helvarg’s 50 Ways to Save the Ocean and excellent book that I will continue to draw upon for inspiration.

  1. If your toilet is older 1992, add a toilet dam to reduce the amount of water flowing out of it. I am a big fan of the brick or rock (Helvarg recommends against this as it can deteriorate and clog your pipes) when I was a poor graduate student.
  2. If you can afford it and live in your own place, replacing the toilet with a fancy, shmancy low-flush one is in order.
  3. Install a low-flow showerhead. Take shorter showers. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode…
  4. Place an aerators on all your faucets
  5. Check pipes, faucets, appliances for water leaks
  6. Update to a front-loading washing machine (which actually preserves your clothes longer too) and low-water use dishwasher. Wash only full loads even if you want to wear your favorite shirt twice in one week.
  7. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. Fill the sink up when you want to wash or shave
  8. Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl
  9. Fill your sink to wash and rinse dishes
  10. Get your yard in check. This is my biggest pet peeve. What is people’s freakin obsession with owning a green yard. Neon green doesn’t look good. You would never lay down on the grass because of the herbicide, pesticide, and fertilizer. What is also with people who feel the need to grow tropical plants in nontropical areas. So to landscape your yard use native plants only (invasive plants species is a whole other issue) that appropriate to your climate (i.e. the natural amount of rainfall you get). Replace all that grass with something better.
  11. Irrigate your plants and yard with water you collect from a rain barrel tied into your roof’s downspout
  12. Sweep, rather than use the hose (really how lazy can some people be), to clean your driveway and sidewalk
Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.


13 Replies to “Just One Thing Challenge #7: Water Conservation”

  1. Some people think that if they live in wet places (like Seattle, or London) they don’t have to worry about water conservation. Not so. Your point about straining the sewage systems and leaving less water to dilute pollutants, etc. proves the point. Ditto about lawns. I hate ’em.

  2. New crapper: check
    Low flow shower head: check
    Aerators: check
    Pipes: check
    Washing machine: can’t afford the check
    Tooth brushing, veggie/fruit rinsing: check
    Low water dishwasher: check
    Yard: check (I love not having to mow any more. Haven’t used the sprinklers in years. Florida Friendly all the way. Got the rain barrel from Chris.)
    As for the driveway and sidewalk, meh… they look fine.

    I think I got this one in the bag. (Aside from the washing machine.)
    And nunatak, I hear you about the lawns. Screw grass!

  3. While in Vancouver during the end of 2006, storms caused the water quality to get so bad there was a metro wide water advisory for 3 weeks.

    You learn how to conserve water very carefully then. We don’t have a lawn, or a dishwasher, or our own washing machine.

    I never understood running the tap when brushing teeth.

    Anyway. One of the strangest things I saw IN vancouver was a guy hosing down the outside of a building…in the pouring rain. About 100 feet from the waterfront. A place near where i worked would run their sprinklers so much the ground became a bog, which many people wiped out on, because it was a slick mess. Despite the city’s best efforts, I think some people missed the whole water conservation message year after year.

    Idiotically, I’ve seen people complain that their toilet water is dirty. I might never know what goes through the minds of some people.

  4. Keep a bucket in the shower. My shower passes about 10L of cold water,mainly from the “on demand” gas water heater, before the hot water arrives.

  5. You forgot the classic, “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”

    Have two low-flush Toto toilets, front-load washer, ridiculously water and chemical deprived yard in a neighbourhood of lawn-nazis (word used in the Seinfeldian sense, of course! Sheesh.)

    But why would one clean a driveway? Isn’t that what rain is for? Snicker.

  6. When I lived in New Mexico, the hot and dry southern part, my next door neighbors watered their yard so much that both mosquitos and mushrooms grew. Do you realize how much water it takes to make a yard that wet in the desert? Meanwhile the Rio is a pathetic trickle and hasn’t reached the Gulf of Mexico in years.

  7. We’re already doing most of those, but I’ll make an extra effort this week. I already drive our son crazy telling him not to turn on the faucet full-blast to wash his hands, shut off the water when he brushes his teeth, etc.

  8. No, no, American friends! I claim “Water conservation junkie of the week” prize! After a terribly, terribly dry summer in 2006 (3 whole months without the wet stuff falling in any quantity in the south of England (they were mostly underwater in the north :-} and we were all crying “Woe is me! Here cometh the end of civilisation as we know it!”) we have no fewer than 5 rainwater butts standing round the garden. And, how about this for sainthood : we not only sweep our garage forecourt and rake our lawns (lawns? Moss, mostly, and moss doesn’t need watering!), but we then pack the leaves into plastic dustbin sacks (they are useful for some things, you know) and compost them. As for the water situation, American friends will be relieved to hear that things are back to normal in dear old Blighty and the whole country is now mostly under water! Phew! That’s all right, then – Civilisation is Saved . . .

  9. Good post, and I appreciate the sentiments. However, you seem to miss an important point, perhaps the most important, behind water conservation. That is the carbon cost of water. Bill Cooper, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Irvine said in a recent podcast (which you can hear on my website) that water is the “low-hanging fruit” for reducing carbon emissions. The cost of transporting water imposes a huge carbon load, whether directly through vehicle emissions or through power plants needed to create electricity to pump water. That’s a reason to conserve water even in areas where the stuff is plentiful and cheap.

  10. …and, I’ll only wash my lustrous long, wavy hair twice a week!

    Ahem…

    (Roger, Thanks for the extra incentive.)

  11. Instead of a brick or rock in the toilet tank, use a plastic gallon-size jug filled with water. If it was originally a milk jug, wash it thoroughly first! If it was from spring water, consider it partial penance for having used water trucked in from a distant place.

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