Monday, 16. March 2015 by Todd Ellison
Did you know, water was the one of the very first things the Almighty created? Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In the original Hebrew, heavens, literally, is “that which is water.” Water represents life, and God is the author of life. Water is the primary element astronomers are looking for as their craft probe for life on far-off planets and asteroids in outer space. There is no life if there is no water. (This is true spiritually, too. If living water isn’t flowing into us on a regular basis, our spirits suffer, wither and eventually die. The Savior cried out at one of the festival gatherings in Jerusalem, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” The Apostle John on Patmos quoted him in Revelation as saying “To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” However, the focus of this post is on the practical aspect of being good stewards of H2O.)
If an adequate supply of good, clean water is a scarce and/or costly commodity where you live, there are a number of ways to reduce your consumption. Most of them go against the grain of the rich lifestyle of the typical American—in comparison with that of most of the people on Earth. Nonetheless, you may want to try some of these tips, because (1) there may come a time when you must survive on a very small supply of water, (2) using these strategies can be an eye-opener into the state of your health, (3) you may save money that you can better use for other ends [our City just doubled the rates for its “customers”), (4) this will give you a bit of empathy for the billions in the world who do not have access to even the basics of potable water, and (5) doing this will increase your appreciation for the Heavenly Father’s gracious, ample and timely provision of our needs.
Use biodegradable laundry detergent, use less than you think you should, and send the used wash- and rinse-water onto your lawn, especially around your trees. If you have hard water, try using Rockin Green (Vitacost.com is a possible source; if you haven’t been a customer of theirs yet, please email us to recommend you to them, and we’ll each get a $10 credit toward a future order; this is a good way of thanking us for the advice we offer you on this website—try using Coupon Code Bamboo for an additional 10% off); they have a kind (Hard Rock Motley Clean) that works great with hard water—and you use less than a tablespoon of the powder in a full load of wash. (Abesmarket.com is another source for Rockin Green.) Then, when you know you’re not polluting your water supply or your plants, you can direct the wash- and -rinse water outdoors instead of adding it to the load of the sewer system. Pull your washing machine out from the wall toward you enough for you to reach the black hose that makes a turn down into your sewer system, and attach a hose to it or simple aim it into some 3-gallon buckets when the cycle is dumping water. You can use that water to wash and rinse your cars. If you find your rinse water coming out with a lot of soapy bubbles, you may be using too much detergent. The downside of that, in addition to the waste, is that you’re probably wearing soap next to your skin when you put on those clothes. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so that’s not a good idea. (The best thing to wear next to your skin is unbleached, undyed natural organic linen, which has some of the highest healing frequencies of any fabric; you can order that, in yards of fabric or made up into items for you, from LifeGivingLinen.com.) Also, in terms of laundry: not everything you wear needs to be washed after a single use. It is not a crime to wear the same shirt and pants for several days if they’re not dirty or smelly! You can probably wash your towels once a week; bed linens, even less often, unless someone’s been sick.
Likewise, after you’ve washed your dishes (using the plastic-tub method Renee recommends—one for soapy water and one for rinse water, if you have a double sink in your kitchen), pour out your gray water onto your lawn. This, of course, is assuming you’re using biodegradable natural dish soap too. A good thing about the tub method is, you know just how much water you’re consuming, and you’re not sending good hot water down the drain (that could have been used for further rinses and for other purposes after the rinsing, too). Also, your sink will last longer and you will have less breakage if you are inserting a tub into your sink when it’s time to wash the dishes.
To further conserve water, plant trees—not just any kind of trees, but ones that are suited for your environment. If you’re in a dry climate, avoid a tree that needs a lot of water. Once you get the right trees situated around your house (on the southern and western sides of your house if you’re in the northern hemisphere, and away from underground pipes and septic systems (because the roots will seek water in them and will clog them) and not too close to your house (because they can damage it when branches break off or the tree falls). Having the welcome shade of trees in the right place in the hot time of the year can actually increase the amount of moisture in the air around where you live. With shade, you’ll need a lot less water to keep your grass green than if it’s baking at full exposure to the summer sun—especially if your grass is a drought-tolerant type such as Wildflower Farm’s Eco-Lawn Grass Seed. And, when you do irrigation your lawn, do it in the dawn and dusk hours (not in the middle of the day when so much more will evaporate) and water less frequently but more deeply so the roots grown deep.
Also, surround your trees, plants and garden areas with a thick layer of organic mulch (we get wood chips free from the City after they prune trees around town). This reduces evaporation of moisture, nourishes the soil, increases the capacity of the soil to retain moisture, and inhibits weed growth (or at least makes it easier to pull weeds, because their roots aren’t as deeply entrenched). You’ll need to replenish the mulch annually or every two years, because it breaks down and makes rich loamy soil.
Catch your roof drain water in barrels for reuse in your yard.
Speaking of septic systems: guys can urinate into a jug. (By the way this is Todd, Renee’s husband, writing the blog this time!) Urine is sterile. Choose a gallon jug that is see-through and that has a good tight-fitting lid, 2” in diameter. If you empty out and rinse out the jug regularly, it won’t be smelly. Set your personal jug in a discrete area of your bathroom. Assuming that you’re living on property that has land, not an apartment in a concrete jungle, pour it out along the base of your trees—if you’re eating well, it probably contains good nutrients and minerals. Plus, it may deter deer and other wildlife from encroaching on your yard and chewing your plants and trees. Do the math, and you’ll realize how much water you’re saving. Even the highest efficiency toilets use up to 1.28 gallons per flush; some of the older toilets use more than 3 GPF. According to ConserveH2O.org, “More than 45% of water use in the average American home occurs in the bathroom, with nearly 27% being used by toilets.” A dozen flushes a day adds up to thousands of gallons per year per person and is far more than is necessary (if you’re a male). Plus, you will be able to observe the state of your health by seeing the color of your urine. It should be amber colored. If it is dark, you probably aren’t drinking enough water. The rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces of water every day.
[For a recent report on one aspect of this—the first urine recycling pilot program in the US—read http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/life/green-mountain/2015/11/21/pioneers-pee-cycling-tout-urines-value/75873560/—“Pioneers of ‘pee-cycling’ tout urine’s value.”]
As for the remainder of your use of toilet water, reduce the water volume in the toilet tank by setting weighted plastic bottles or a float booster in your toilet tank. Eartheasy.com explains (step 6 of their water conservation tips) how to do it and how to make sure you have enough water flowing to do an effective flush.
Another way to greatly reduce your use of water in the bathroom—and also to cut down on heating the water—is to attach a flexible hose spray head to your shower head. You hold it in one hand and only turn it on when you’re actually needing water. Eartheasy.com states that “a four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.” If you stand in a flat bucket, or plug the drain so you can scoop out the used water, you can flush the toilet with the water. And, take a shower rather than a bath, except for occasions when you want to soak in Epsom salts or something like that; why sit in dirty water rather than have it do your ablution and run off?
Likewise, turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth, as soon as you’ve wet your brush. Also, dentists recommend dry brushing every so often, because it gives the brush a better grip on your gums and your teeth.
Do you see a theme in these suggestions? You’re reducing the volume of water that is leaving your property through the sewer pipe. And, in many cases, you are getting double use out of your water.
Have you noticed in various areas of life, that the Heavenly Father provides just what you need, when you’re in His will and are acting responsibly? Good stewardship of His wondrous gift of water—distilled from the oceans and dropped as rain and snow on the land for our use bit by bit—is a means for us as believers to express our gratefulness for His daily provision.
Got you interested? WaterUseItWisely.com has about 200 tips for saving water.
Do you have water-saving water-reusing tips to share? Send them to us as a Comment!