Archive for the ‘Water Conservation’ Category

Day 46 – Use Rain Barrels

Rain Barrel for Collecting Rain Water

Look at this picture and you’ll notice an attractive rain water collection barrel at the bottom of a downspout.  This one actually matches the house!  Rain barrels come in several shapes and sizes and colors.  They are a relatively new addition to every day gardens.

What are rain barrels?  Rain barrels are collection containers that you use at the bottom of your downspout to collect water for gardening and other non-consumable outdoor water needs.  Usually you will need to shorten or modify your downspout to accept one.  There is a screen in the top to filter out debris, and most rain barrels have an overflow spout for when they get too full.  Towards the bottom, there is a place where you can attach your garden hose.  Usually rain barrels are installed so that the spout for the hose is higher than the ground you wish to water with it.  You can see in this picture, courtesy of Sarah from Rockford, IL, that this rain barrel has been placed on a wood platform so that it is lifted off of the ground.

Why use a rain barrel?  There are several reasons why it is good to collect rain water for gardening.
1.   If you have city water, it has been treated with chemicals.  Using natural rain water reduces chemical usage for new water over time at the water treatment plant.  Plus, you have the benefit of keeping those chemicals out of your lawn and garden which is especially important when vegetable gardening.
2.   If you live in an area where there are a lot of homes close together, grass and dirt areas have been or are being replaced with more and more impervious surfaces like concrete and asphalt.  This leads to flooding problems inside homes – even when there have been no problems before.  It’s like a math problem: Less dirt, grass, and trees to absorb water = more standing water and flooding problems.
3.  You can save money!  Whether you have to pay for city water or whether you pay for electricity to pump your well water, you will save money using water from a rain barrel instead.
4.  It’s fun!  My community has programs to make your own rain barrel making it a fun, family activity.  Besides that it is just plain fun to install and fun to use!

Day 11 – Bathroom Water

Bathroom Sink


Water is essential to life.  We use it every day.  It’s relatively inexpensive in most parts of the United States and even free in some rural areas.  However, cheap is not an excuse to waste.  There may come a day when fresh water supplies become scarce.  Even if that day never comes, we can conserve water simply because we care about the environment.  Here are some ways to conserve bathroom water: 

Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.  We’ve heard this one, but how many of you actually do this?  It’s free, easy to do, and just a matter of getting into a good habit.  You can save about 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). 

Install a low-flow aerator.  An aerator is the little thing screwed to the end of your faucet.  Just remove it (you may find that it is dirty and needs to be cleaned anyway) and take it to a hardware store to find one that fits.  Most aerators have a little stamp on them telling you how many GPM (gallons per minute) that it allows through.  Find one with fewer GPM, and fasten the new one to your faucet.  This is quick and easy to do and should only cost about $5 to $10. 

Reduce your flushes!  If you are purchasing a new toilet, consider one with a dual flush.  (Learn about this model I recently had installed for a client.)  If you aren’t, then some suggest this advice, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.  If it’s brown, flush it down.”  You can also take a small milk or juice container, wash it out, fill it with water, and sink it in the toilet tank.  This reduces each flush by the amount of water the container holds. 

Install a greywater system to collect water from your shower and sink and use that water to flush the toilet.  Check your local codes before embarking on this journey. 

Take shorter showers.  Time yourself to see how long your showers really take.  Then, try to shorten the time.  You can also install a low-flow shower head to reduce the water coming out while preserving the water pressure. 

Install a shower head with a chlorine filter.  While not conserving water per se, heeding this advice will keep harsh water sanitation chemicals from seeping into your skin when your pores are open from the warm water. 

Finally, and I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post, but I thought it worth mentioning here, don’t use antibacterial soaps and cleansers!  Stay tuned to learn why in a future post.