Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No, let me tip my 20-gallon hat to you!

The city of Santa Barbara is promoting a 20 Gallon Challenge, listing ways to reduce your water consumption by 20 gal/day. I find the list frustrating, however, because many of the suggestions are either bleedingly obvious, or only helpful for owners, not renters.

So the things on the list that we already do to save water:
  • Turn off water when brushing teeth.
  • Take short showers (At 2 gal/min on a good day, there's a limit to how much shorter they can get).
  • Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket (who does that?).
  • Wash only full loads of laundry.
  • Wash outdoor furniture by hand instead of just hosing down.

The things that are not applicable to us:
  • Leaky faucets and toilets.
  • Flow restrictors on faucets (definitely not needed on days when we're only getting 0.7 gal/min).
  • Replacing the washing machine
  • Dishwasher usage
  • All the landscaping suggestions. I love the landscaping suggestions -- I just wish we had the power to implement them.

That leaves one suggestion that we probably could use, which is to be more careful about running water when washing dishes.

(I don't want to think about how much water is wasted in watering our front yard. If it were up to me, our front yard would consist of palm trees, lemon trees, aloe plants, and gravel. Instead, like every other yard in our neighborhood, it has grass. Not exactly native to southern California. But I'm pretty sure our landlord is not about to re-landscape the front yard.)

I'm not saying these suggestions aren't a good place to start -- they're fine. But if you're going to talk about reducing water, you can't ignore the vast quantities of water involved in agriculture or ethanol production. Saving water doesn't stop at your front gate, and I just wish that people talked about this more.

On the bright side, this means that if you're reducing your gasoline usage or high-fructose corn syrup intake for other reasons, you're probably already reducing your water usage, too.

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