Tag Archives: water

Are You Being Water Wise?

Here in southern California we’re facing some pretty serious water issues. The water supply is pretty low, and they’re talking about restrictions this summer. But since many people in the area have been working hard to conserve already there’s a bit of a challenge in making sure that they aren’t punishing people who have already cut back and just can’t cut back more.

But even if that isn’t a problem in your area just now, cutting back is a good idea. The website Be Water Wise was created by the Southern California Metropolitan Water District, and the stats are for this area, but some of the water saving advice is good anywhere.

These are some of my favorite tips and how we implement them:

1. Water the lawns less.

Our front lawn gets very little water. It’s kind of unattractive, but I’ve come to see really green lawns as a luxury we really can’t afford. I’d love to see native plants replace the front lawn.

Our back lawn gets somewhat more water for the simple reason that it’s a pleasant place for the children to play. That’s important too. But it is not the lush green of a heavily watered lawn. It gets just enough to keep going, and that’s it.

2. Shorter/combined showers, low flow showerheads.

Shorter and combined showers can save a lot of money. Combined showers can also cause water waste, so you do have to think about what it is you’re doing in there, if you get my drift. Two people in a shower can use less than two showering separately if they make that choice.

The fact that my 4 year old likes to come and play in the shower ensures that things move pretty quickly for my husband and I.

I also keep my showers shorter by thinking about how often my hair really needs washing. That’s a personal preference, but you may be surprised at how you can train your hair to need a different level of care. Make changes slowly and you may be able to decrease how often you wash your own.

Similarly, my kids still choose to bathe together. I keep expecting my daughter to get modest any time now, but so far that hasn’t happened. For now we just enjoy the fact that we have to run only one bath for the two older kids. We don’t run it deep most times, so it won’t be the worst thing when they choose to separate.

Low flow showerheads are also a great idea. I actually don’t know if the normal settings on our current shower head are low flow or not (I suspect not), but I do know that the mist setting is good enough for showering with for the most part.

3. Capture water that would otherwise be wasted.

We have a bit of an unusual situation in our home. The water comes into the house in such a way that the kitchen sink gets steaming hot water coming out at first during warm weather. I mean that literally. It’s painful to the touch.

Rather than waste that water when we need cold water, we catch it in an old gallon jug. It is then used for watering plants.

It’s not much water, but I figure the gallons add up.

I’m still working on convincing my husband to capture water from heating the shower. That’s a bit tougher, as it’s more inconvenient. Harder to get the water to plants, plus a bucket would be underfoot. But the amount of water would be more significant.

4. Generally avoid bad water habits.

Some of the water saving tips we read about I’ve never had to worry about because they describe habits I haven’t had.

I’ve never tended to run water while brushing my teeth, for example. Never done that, never seen the point.

Same for washing down walkways and driveways with water instead of a broom. Honestly I don’t clean them off often anyhow, but I just can’t see using water to do that. Sweeping isn’t that hard.

What are your favorite water saving habits?

Water: A California Story at San Diego Natural History Museum

I think by the title you can guess where we went this weekend. My mother heard about the water exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum on the news and figured it would be a great experience for the kids.

As it turned out, the display was mostly so-so for bringing a 6 year old and a 3 year old along. Most of it was too old for them, although probably great for older elementary school age kids. But they weren’t into many of the exhibits at all. The mist entryway they enjoyed, and the 3 stages of water that they could play with were fun, but that was about it for them.

Which meant I had little time to read up on the parts that interested me.

The kids did kind of enjoy the model of the carousel water pump that some communities in Africa have now. The idea behind these is that the children play on the carousel, causing it to pump water for the community.

If you are in the area and want to learn more about water conservation, this was a good exhibit. Not much new for me that I had the chance to read at least, but my opinion might be different if I had had a better chance to go through at my own pace. So take the older kids, but not younger ones unless you want to be a bit rushed.

How to Clean Outside Areas

I got thinking on the topic of summer today when my daughter’s kindergarten teacher commented that there are only 4 Mondays left in our school year. It was one of those “wow, summer’s almost here” moments for me.

That, of course, brought me to thinking about cleaning up the outside of the house. Living in southern California, it’s pretty practical to keep the outside areas of the house nice all year. We don’t get much rain here, after all, never mind significantly colder weather.

One of those things that has always been a bit annoying is how some people like to clean their walkways and driveways with the hose. Considering the water situation in our area, I hope to see very, very little of that this year, but I know people will do it just because it’s faster.

A good broom will allow you to take care of most of the problem without water. You’ll want one that does well outdoors, which may be a little heavier duty than many like for the kitchen or other parts of the house. I always liked the big push brooms for larger areas myself.

Most of the time, that’s all you need. If there’s a dried up mess outside then yeah, you might want to get the hose as the fastest way to clean it up. But most of the time you don’t really need it.

The same goes later in the year for leaf blowers and such. Get a good rake and a broom for the walkways, and get your yard cleaned up without wasting fuel, electricity or water.

Of course, many people do one thing that is pretty green is add plants to their garden. That can be more or less green, depending on how you garden. The plastic containers that many plants come in can be problematic, although some garden centers may take them back if they’re in good condition. Use compost instead of fertilizer, and you can make your yard more beautiful without hurting the environment much.