I just came back from this town in Mexico called Tulum where the beach-front properties are all off-grid. That means all the electricity is powered by diesel generators and all the water is trucked in.
When I got back home in LA and turned the bathroom water on to wash my hands, the water blasted open with extreme pressure that I had not experienced for weeks. I had grown accustomed to the water flow being light. So I decided that this extreme water pressure is very wasteful and should be remedied. Especially because… well, we are in a drought and everybody is talking about how we should conserve water. So here we go…
Reduce the water flow by adjusting the valve underneath your sinks
I found the little valve underneath the sink and turned it almost-off so that when I turn the water open all the way, only about 20% of the water comes out. (Note, the hot and cold faucets have separate valves.) So this takes all the thinking out of having to be mindful of not opening the faucet all the way in my home. I don’t need the pressure to be greater than that anyway. I even did this to my kitchen sink.
Please don’t “sweep” your backyard with the garden hose
Then I noticed my neighbor was in his backyard, with the garden hose on full blast and he was taking his sweet time “washing” his backyard one foot at a time. Now that’s extremely inefficient, wasteful and quite frankly really sad. There were not even any garden-hoses in Tulum. All he needs to do is sweep the backyard with a broom.
And don’t even get me started on those terrible lawns. All that water being used to water a plant that you cut every week so that it won’t seed? It’s not even a drought-tolerant plant! If you replaced your lawn with veggies and herbs it would require so much less water and actually produce food you can eat. Just imagine, watering plants that produce food. What a novel concept! And fruit trees, by the way, require the least water of all. So screw the obsession with the green lawn.
Water seems to be infinite but it’s not.
Here in California, we’ve had record low rainfall all throughout the state and our water comes from hundreds of miles away but people seem to forget that. Water doesn’t even seem very expensive because it’s so heavily subsidized. If water became expensive people would go crazy but I think that WILL happen sooner rather than later, and it should because the biggest motivator for people to making these changes is when it hits their wallet.
Side story: At burning man, there is this theme camp called the “Human Carcass Wash” where everyone gives everyone else a shower and all they do is use ONE STANDARD WATER BOTTLE for the entire body. The original point of the camp was to be a lesson in boundaries. You state your boundaries, have them honored, and be comfortable with either gender touching you in the washing process. The side effect happens to be that you come out feeling pretty clean. So it’s pretty astonishing how little water you really need to take a shower. That’s why I scoffed at my friend recently who bought this giant ten-inch wide shower head. (It had an output of 3L per minute so a 10-minute shower would use 30 liters or 8 gallons of water.)
Anyway, all these little changes make a difference. If everybody did what I did with the faucet, it would make a huge impact!