Save the Water

Go to fullsize imageThe topic of bottle water amazes me.  I can’t believe that we all spend so much money on water in a bottle.  I I understand it when people are travelling and have no other convenient water source or if people have really bad well water at home and don’t want to drink rotten egg water for ever.  But for most people I know, bottled water is pure luxury.  So what’s the draw?  Most people who I know who drink lots of bottle water, claim it is “more pure” and healthier than regular tap water.  Hmmm…I am not so sure about that.

Have you heard about the bottled “spring water” that actually came from a well located near a hazardous waste site?  Or the “pure glacier water” that came from a public water system in Alaska (a.k.a. “the tap”)?  Did you know that 25% of all bottled water comes from a public water source, the same as our tap water?  Why are we paying oodles of dollars over time for tap water in a plastic bottle?

Like I said, some people feel that bottled water is healthier.  While most bottle water is free and clear of contaminants there has been instances where harmful bacteria and chemicals were found in bottle water.  Just because it’s in a bottle doesn’t mean it’s sterile and safer than tap water.  Tap water is processed and regularly tested for bacteria and chemical levels.  The last major study investigating bottled water was in 1999.  Due to some regulatory inconsistencies, about 60-70% of bottled water is free of FDA oversight and regulations.  This includes those big water cooler jugs.  What happens is that the FDA does require regular testing but bottle water is considered a low risk item and often deadlines for inspection are stretched to make time for more pressing contamination issues.

In fact, you may not even be aware that bottled water has been contaminated.  Often, the bottling company simply has that batch pulled from store shelves.  They are not required to report mold, benzene, coliform, and microbes detection directly to the consumer.  This happened about 100 times in the past 10 years.  Granted, it’s not a major statistic but if you are concerned, you should know the facts.

If you are starting to think that maybe just maybe that bottle water is a little bit of a rip-off join the club.  Save that $1-$2 you would normally and put it into your gas tank.  Don’t contribute to petroluem product dependency and avoid buying those plastic bottle filled with tap water.  Let’s face it, not everybody is as great at recycling plastic as we are!  Go the “Biggest Loser” way and filter your own water into a reusable container.  Keep a jug of filtered tap water (or just tap water) in your refrigerator.  You will save yourself from having to buy bottled water and also save water by not waiting for the blue stuff to get cold as it runs from your tap.

Wait!  There’s more!  A couple friends of mine and I have a running joke that Meijer brand bottled water was simply water that they got from the drinking fountain in the back of the store and put in bottles.  I am not sure about that particular brand’s source yet, but you should not be fooled by words thrown on labels such as “pristine” and “pure”.  Aquafina has started to indicate (in small type I am sure) that their water is from a public water source (tap water from Wichita, Kansas).  Dasani acknowledges on it’s website that it’s bottled water comes from a local source such as tap water from Queens, New York or Jacksonville, FL (with minerals added of course).  Nestle Pure Life water indicates on the bottle if the water is from public, private or deep well resources.

All in all, you will find a lot of he said/she said about tap versus bottled water.  I have simply chosen to drink filtered tap water whenever I can.  I rarely buy bottled water unless I am travelling and it’s all that seems to be available.  I do always start off my trip with 2 reusable water bottles filled with tap water.  I also will frequent a drinking fountain now and again if I am on short jaunts and find myself thirsty.  Remember those things?  I know, they can be a little germy and sometimes taste funny.  But they will work in a pinch.  Also, when I am at my favorite restaurant and they ask if I want “bottled or tapped”, I will always reply, “I’d like to tap that”. 

Bottled water resources:  Aquafina is tapBottle Water Terms/Info$8 million business


“Tons of Change Thursday”

Tweenie’s Greenies: Thursday Edition

Look at that title in beautiful green “heading 2” font!  I am using it again.  Well, at least for today.  It’s that schedule that I set up for blogging that I think I ditched after a couple weeks.  Things came up, my fingers were gnawed off…whatever other excuse I could come up with at the time.

Well, I just remembered this lovely idea to save money on your water bill this summer.  If you live in a potentially high humidity area, such as Michigan in the summer, you probably have a dehumidifier.  Ours is running at full tilt since Noah floated by last week.  Sidenote: taking all the old musty carpet out of our basement last year and replacing it with hard flooring, was one of the best ideas we ever had.  My mold allergies are basically non-existent now. 

Anyway, if you have a dehumidifier you know that you have to empty that collection tank of all the condensated water every so often.  Why not put that water to good use?  Heck, you burned all that fossil fuel running it, might as well make it worth something!  I have been using that water to water my flower gardens, my potted plants, anything that needs some nice condensated water gets a little treat from my humidifier tank.  The nice part is, my tank also has a wonderful little spout for pouring out the water, so “no muss, no fuss”!

Here’s another idea for saving water in the summer.  Fill up your little kids swimming pool in the morning with water so that it warms in the afternoon sun.  They can play in it, do what ever, a little grass in there only makes this grand idea a little greener.  When they are finished in there for the day, you can either use that water to water any gardens OR you can take some eco-friendly soap, bath/wash your children in it, and then use that graywater to water your plants.  The eco-friendly soap won’t harm your grass or plants (or children for that matter).  Now you just accomplished three things and recycled your water for 3 important uses:  entertaining the children all day outside of your house, bathing your children, and watering your organic gardens.  You should hear trumpets as you complete this task.

I can’t get more savings to come out of my head at the moment.  Except for this thought of somehow collecting the condensation off of my families cups/glasses.  That’s another untapped water resource (get it..untapped…as in not from the tap!  Ha!).  Maybe I can design a little collection tray that attaches to the glasses.  You could collect the condensation from several cups throughout the day and use it for all of the before mentioned activities as well.  I will get back to you on that.  I have to work on the design of this little gem of an invention.  I think it will be a HUGE hit because of the “green” buzz everybody has going right now.  I could probably sell it for $50 a pop in water restricted areas.  Off to my research lab!!

to a couple new challenges this month. 

If you look over at my sidebar, you will notice a couple new badges.  One being Gift of Green’s clothesline Challenge which runs for the months May, June and July (perfect timing for Michigan weather).  Where I have bravely committed to being an Advanced participant (line drying for 90% of the time).  What this means is that I will not be using my dryer during the length of this challenge.  We have been avoiding using the dryer for quite sometime now.  I hate to admit it, but Tomas was right.  He began the line drying quite a while ago.  I was at first a little resistant.  I wasn’t sure how it would work out.  Then I remembered that my mom hung almost everything up to dry.  Not because she was a hippie tree hugging lady but because she didn’t want to have to buy so many clothes.  You see, when you line dry your clothes it eliminates a lot of the fading and wash wear that would occur in the dryer.  Bonus!  It has saved us money and it also has helped us consume less energy and clothes which in turn helps the planet.  We are getting green 2 ways here, planet wise and planet wise.

The other challenge is Mamas on the Compact.  I have slowly drifted this way for green purposes but also for financial purposes.  Mamas on the Compact is a commitment to refuse buying new items with the exception of consumables such as food, medicine and personal care items. You may buy used, barter, trade or do without items.  I am pledging to compact for 4 months to start with.  The compact starts at the first of each month, so look for my pledge and updates starting June 1.  This will be interesting seeing as how I know I will be tested many, many, many times.

Here’s hoping that you have a great weekend!  Get out there and get a little dirty with your big green thumb this Memorial Day weekend!

 Go to fullsize imageIn speaking about saving money with a friend (Cleaver Mama, I am talking about you), we were discussing our water bills.  They keep going up, up, up!  It could be because both of our family numbers keep going up, up, up as well.  Increases in family size, means more baths/showers, more laundry, more dishes, more of everything!  We just send a lot of water and money straight down the drain.  We definitely need to “Green” up our houses on this topic!  Not only can we save a TON of change, we can create little changes that mean a whole lot to the World’s water supply.  It doesn’t get better than this!

“If many little people in many little places do many little deeds, they can change the face of the Earth”  ~African Proverb

Greening the blue in the kitchen:

Keep a jug of water in the refrigerator to keep it cold.  That way you don’t have to run the tap to get cold water. 

Try not to use/waste ice.  Making it takes water (duh!) and often we just let them melt at the bottom of an empty glass and throw it out.  Some countries don’t even serve ice in restaurant drinks because of fresh water worries. 

Only run full loads of dishes in the dishwasher.  This will save water and energy.  Each washing cycle uses about 25 gallons of water.  A river will literally be running through your kitchen if you run it all the time for small loads.  My hubby prides himself on his dishwasher loading abilities.  It’s like he’s a dishwasher engineer.  He will go to great lengths to squeeze one more cup in there.  So I think our house is pretty good on this one!

Also, don’t “wash” your dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher.  I thought that’s what we got these machines for…to save washing time, so don’t prerinse!

If you do wash dishes in the sink, don’t let the faucet run.  Fill the sink with soapy water and fill the other side of the sink (or a wash tub) with water to rinse.  OOH!  This will save me the big bucks for sure.  I tend to run my rinse water from the tap.

Also, soak caked on, stuck on food by placing some water in the pan.  Let it sit.  Then scrub.  Don’t turn on the hot water and let it keep running on the pan while you try to chip away the crusty food.  That’s a lot of water going down the drain!

Use biodegradable dish soap when you wash your dishes in the sink.  When you are finished, you can pour the “gray water” on your indoor or outdoor plants to save watering costs. 

Use boiled water that has cooled from boiling eggs to water plants.  Great nutrients for plants.

Use the boiled water from cooking veggies to make a soup instead of dumping it in the drain.

Don’t use your garbage disposal!!!  It takes a lot of water to grind up left over food stuff. (Not to mention the electricity.)  Composting is the best way to go.  On multiple “Green” levels.

Greening the Blue in the Bathroom:

Stop the flushing!  If it’s yellow, let it mellow.  If it’s brown, flush it down.  Don’t be too grossed out!  If you flush your toilet only one less time per day, you could save 4.5 gallons of water each time.  That is as much water as the average person in Africa uses all day (including cooking, bathing, and drinking).  (The Green Book, 2007)

If you love to consistently flush (as I do) put a plastic bottle full of water in the toilet tank to decrease the amount of water used.  We have one toilet that was not affected by this but the other has a little bit of a hard time getting the “big jobs” flushed.  We just had to become a little more selective when considering which throne we wanted to sit upon at certain times.

If you are replacing a toilet, get a dual flush toilet.  A light little flush for liquids, and forceful flush for non liquid waste.

Never flush trash down your toilet.  Put those boogery kleenex in the trash.  Don’t feel tempted to flush it.  That’s 4.5 gallons right there!

Check to see if your toilet is leaking and wasting your hard earned cash.  Put a few drops of food coloring into your toilet tank.  If it seeps into your bowl over time (don’t flush for a while), you have a leak.  Fix it!  You could save 250 gallons of water a month by this little action.

Don’t let the water from the faucet run while you are shaving or brushing your teeth.  For rinsing your shaver, put some warm water in the stoppered sink.  Then you won’t have to keep turning it on.  If you turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, you will save 10 quarts of water each time you brush.

Replace your shower head/faucets with low flow aerating ones, they reduce water flow by up to 50%.  We have done this in our showers and have noticed very little pressure difference.  Don’t be fooled by those that say you will have bad hair because of doing this little saver.

What’s better…taking a shower or taking a bath?  A shower!!  The average person uses 20 gallons of water for a bath and only 10 gallons for a shower.  Save those baths for special occasions.  Yipes!  I am bad at this.  I LOVE taking a bath to relax at night.  Is the fact that it’s a Wednesday a special enough occasion to take a bath??

Cut down on the shower time!  One minute of showering or running the bath water usually uses about 3-5 gallons of water.  Make it a race with the clock.  Shower for less than five minutes.  Better yet, shower with a partner for less than five minutes.  Even better, shower with a partner for less than five minutes and only turn on the water when you need to rinse.  Turn off the shower as you soap up.  Can we say Brrr….

 One more thing….leaks can really waste water over time.  To find out if you have any hidden leaks in your home, don’t use the water for 2 hours.  Record the start and finish amounts on your water meter.  If the numbers have changed over the 2 hours, you have a leak.  Find it and save.

Whew!  What a list!  Don’t think you can’t make a difference by doing these little things in your own home.  If you do all these things think how much water you will NOT be consuming and how much money you will be saving!  And we haven’t even talked about how you use water outside your home yet!

For another quick to do list go HERE or HERE.

Sources:  The Green Book, 2007.  1,001 Ways to Save the Earth, 2007.