One of the most amazing things about water is that instead of contracting when it freezes, like most things do when they get cold, it expands. This makes it lighter than water, so it floats on the tops of lakes rather than sinking to the bottom. This has the added effect of insulating the rest of the lake, preventing the body of water from freezing. If this didn't happen, all the fish and other aquatic animals and plants would be killed every winter. I've always found these properties of water to be amazing, if not downright miraculous!
I also love the paradoxical nature of water (of which the expansive freezing is one example). It is placid yet powerful, gentle yet relentless. It can be restorative yet lethal, depending on the circumstances. It's also the "universal solvent," as my dad says, and that's true: literally and metaphorically I would say.
But all this waxing poetic-like is meaningless if I'm not doing anything differently, isn't it? Which brings me to my personal accountability for my water use. I'll start with what I'm doing pretty well at, move on to what I'm getting better at, and end with what I still need to change. In doing so, I hope readers will ponder their own water use and engage in a similar water reckoning for themselves.
What I'm already doing:
- "Navy" showers, most of the time
- Showering every second day
- Saving shower warm-up water in a bucket in the tub to use for flushing the toilet
- Saving kitchen sink warm up water for watering plants or putting in the tea kettle for later use
- Low flow toilets, shower heads and faucets
- Low water use front loading washing machine
- Yellow/Mellow principle
- Turning the tap off when brushing teeth
- garden hoses on timers, using a soaker hose/drip irrigation for part of The Big Garden
- One 40 gallon water barrel set up outside but not yet hooked up to downspout - materials to hook it up have been purchased and just need to be installed.
- Spot watering with a watering can and collected rainwater before using the hose/sprinkler - this depends on how pressed for time I am on evenings/weekends, and if there's water in the barrel.
- Turning tap off when I wash my hands
- Not waiting for tap water to warm up before washing my hands or my face or my hair.
- Looking into taking a rain barrel conversion workshop since we have two good blue plastic barrels that just need to be converted for water collection purposes but which are sitting empty at the moment
- Figure out how to waste less of my greywater
- Increase drip irrigation system to Big Garden; start one for the Little Garden.
- Use less water to wash dishes
- Put something (maybe a rock and water filled 2 L pop bottle?) in the toilet tanks to make the low flush toilets even lower flush
- Navy showers, ALL of the time
- Figure out how to add contour/swales to my yard to help the water soak in instead of running off
- I'm sure there is more to add to this list....
As I'd wait for the pail to fill, I'd pull a weed or two, and even did a little bit of Tai Chi in my rubber boots and rain hat. Then I'd pick up the pail and pour it in the barrel again. It occured to me then that sometimes I've let the kitchen tap run and probably a whole gallon of water would go down the drain before it warmed up to my liking. Juxtapose this with the care I was taking in saving this rainwater from the downspout and putting it in the barrel - it just didn't make sense to waste in the kitchen what I was collecting in the yard.
So now when I turn on the tap, I imagine the water coming out of the downspout and into my ice cream pail, to be saved in my water barrel. It's made me waste a lot less water, making that inside/outside connection. Imagine how much more precious water is to someone who walks a mile or two every day to collect their family's drinking water! Generally speaking, we rich westerners are disconnected from where our water comes from and where it goes when we're finished with it. Going out and collecting my own water has changed that for me. I encourage everyone to try it sometime, and think about the paradoxical miracle of H2O!
Picture courtesy a recent rainfall in my yard