I Need...Water (indoors)

>> Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm working on being more conscious of my water use this month. Water conservation is one of those great ways I can save money so I can shift my savings to my grocery bill, and as we're still adjusting to this house (been here a month), it's a good opportunity to start off right with our water use. And besides, water is really, really important (duh).

(And by the way, am I the only one who was freaked out by the last James Bond movie?)

I've put together this list of all the tips I could find on ways to conserve water, ordered as usual from easy to hard. My focus here is on indoor water use - I'll talk about outdoor use in another post.


  • Fill up your dishwasher all the way before running it.
  • Conserve water when washing dishes by filling up both sides of the sink - one with hot water to wash in and one with lukewarm/cool water to rinse.
  • Only wash full loads of laundry. Also, fill up the washing machine to the appropriate level depending on the size of your load.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge for cold drinks rather than running the tap until it's cold.
  • Wash vegetables, fruits, and herbs in a bowl of water rather than running water. Use the collected water on your garden. You can also use cooled pasta water, potato water, and the water from steaming vegetables.
  • Plug the tub as soon as you turn the water on, and then adjust the temperature while the tub is filling.
  • Defrost food in the refrigerator rather than under running water.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and shaving.
  • Don't rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Wipe them off with a dishrag or use the method I describe here.
  • Reuse your towels multiple times to avoid creating extra laundry. Also wear your clothes more than once (not underwear).
  • Don't use the toilet as a trash can.
  • Take baths family style - i.e., Mommy and baby, Mommy and Daddy, small kids together.
  • Take shorter showers. Shorten your shower time by not shaving in the shower or washing your hair every other day. (My husband says this is a Baby Step. See the below section on "Where I'm At" to see why I say it's a Jogging Stride step.)
  • Use a refillable water bottle to cut down on the amount of glasses that need to be washed each day.
  • Monitor your water bill to be on the watch for water leaks.
  • Compost vegetable scraps instead of using the garbage disposal.
  • Replace showerheads with low-flow varieties and install aerators in your faucets.
  • Upgrade your toilet to a more efficient model or put a bottle of water in the tank.
  • Turn off the water in the shower while you lather up. Turn it back on to rinse.
  • Keep a bucket in the shower to catch warming-up water. Use it to flush the toilet.
  • Check your city codes to find out if you can re-route your plumbing to use grey water in your yard rather than sending it to the sewage plant.
  • Shower every other day.
  • If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down.
  • Consider a compostable toilet.
  • Pee on your garden.

If these tips have only wet your appetite for more, the best resource I found on water use is at Water Use It Wisely.

Tips for the Budget Conscious
All of these water saving tips can also save you money, but several of the Jogging Stride tips involve a small initial investment. Here are my suggestions for those:
  • I did a quick search on prices for compost bins, compost tumblers, and vermiculture stations, and they seem to run about $100 and up. I'm putting together a homemade worm bin that shouldn't cost me more than $40 total, including the worms. I'll provide more details soon, but you can easily find instructions for making your own compost bin (with or without worms) on the Internet.
  • I've been staring at my showerheads since we moved in wondering how I can tell if they're low-flow or not. Here's a tip from the aforementioned Water Use It Wisely site: "If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a water-efficient model." Don't waste money replacing a showerhead that's already efficient!
  • Unless you already have plans to upgrade your toilets, it's much cheaper just to put a bottle in the tank. Just don't use a brick - it could break the toilet!

Where I'm At
Good on the Baby Steps. Working on the Jogging Stride. Do one of the Marathon Runners (and I'll let you guess which one).

My biggest downfall with water use is long showers. It is one of my eco-sins. The thing is, I don't feel like I'm dawdling in the shower. It really takes me that long! But I do keep my showers far hotter than I should (and I crank up the heat throughout the shower to get that good "frog in a pot of boiling water" effect).

Photo by Snap

This post was included in the Carnival of the Green #193 at EcoChic.

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Eco Yogini August 13, 2009 at 12:39 PM  

wow- what a fantastic post! I was just thinking that i suck at water conservation! and I've been considering putting a bottle in our toilet... but just haven't worked up the nerve (not sure why!).
I also like the idea about rinsing the veggies in the bowl (well, ALL your ideas are fantastic). I need to do this. Thanks for the tip on checking the efficiency of the shower head- I'll have to do that! :)

Erin aka Conscious Shopper August 13, 2009 at 9:44 PM  

@Eco Yogini - Yeah, I need to improve on water conservation too. Where I live, it rains a lot and is very humid, so it makes it seem like less of an issue than if I lived in the desert or someplace like that. But this guy was telling me about how much my city's growth is limited by the water supply, and I had one of those "Oh, right!" moments. Got to work on that!

Brenda Pike August 27, 2009 at 4:01 PM  

Found your blog through the Carnival of the Green. Good post. I really need to be better about using pasta water, etc., to water my plants.

I'm really interested in how your worm composting turns out. I've had a lot of fun with mine.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper August 27, 2009 at 8:01 PM  

@Brenda - I'm hoping to get my worm bin going next week. I welcome any tips!

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