Last Sunday our priest talked about something, I don't remember what. But one example he gave was his water bill for the last quarter. It was ridiculously high, especially given that he observed a water conservation ban in October ($490). That's a lot of clean drinking water that other people even somewhat nearby in other states don't have to drink and survive. He then mentioned one way to conserve water was through taking shorter showers and some other methods which he listed in her sermon text.
Being a closet environmentalist, I tend to stay on top of the immense waste humans, and especially Americans, produce. Water has been high on my list for a long time, and, as weird as it sounds, the fresh water we use is not reused, so we have a limited amount. I wanted to throw out some ways we waster water which I think very few people recognize.
The Earth Day Network noted that a low-flush toilet uses 5 gallons less water per flush than a regular toilet. An alternative to buying a new toilet is to put a 1 gallon jug full of water in your toilet tank. It keeps the water level lower, and only wastes 4 gallons more then. Still, in a house of 4 people, that'd be around 20 - 40 gallons of water saved every day.
I'd only really become aware of this a few months ago, but the amount of waste for bottled water is staggering (I say as I sip from my Deer Park bottle). From Ira Flatow on Science Friday and Wikipedia it takes 3 to 5 liters of water to make 1 liter of bottled water. Get that, for every glass of water you drink, potentially 4 other glasses of water go wasted to make it.
On top of that there's the shipping. Peter Galick states:
Overall, the average energy cost to make the plastic, fill the bottle, transport it to market and then deal with the waste would be "like filling up a quarter of every bottle with oil."
Gotta love when we place an image of oil mixed with water as something we drink. So, for every gallon of water you drink, one quart of oil is wasted. No wonder the stuff is so expensive (about $20 per gallon versus pennies for tap or filtered).
Wikipedia listed the United States as consuming 25.8 billion liters of water a year. I can't get my mind around that number, so more realistically we consume 90.5 liters per person, or about 30 gallons a year. There's another interesting article on this in Fast Company, with some interesting information about Fiji and how the people go without fresh water while they export it in bottles to the U.S.
How to help? Try just refilling your bottled water with tap or filtered water. So far I haven't noticed a difference, and apparently it can be healthier than bottled water, which often doesn't have restrictions to ensure it's clean.
I learned in elementary school that to make paper you have to use water (or was that paper mache using water and newspaper). Seriously, loads of water goes into making paper. Looking at GreenDimes "28 billion gallons of water go into the production of American junk mail annually" along with the "100 million trees are cut down each year to create the approximately 4.5 million tons of junk mail in the United States." Pretty amazing.
Thankfully it's pretty easy to cut back on some of the junk mail we receive. I still get some county things, but GreenDimes is a group committed to stopping your junk mail. You sign up with the names of everyone in your house ($12 per household through December or $15 otherwise) and get a few postcards to mail in. But the beauty is that once you sign-up you can go on the site with junk mail in hand and select the name of the recipient and the sender's name (the auto fill makes this pretty easy). Within a month or two you stop receiving their junk. So far, it really works, except that I got yelled at for taking Land's End off and had to remove it from our GreenDimes list.
I love it so much I'm giving out some as Christmas gifts.
I just found out there's an H2O Exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in DC through May. Since it's right around the corner, I'm definitely going.
Okay, I do remember what the point of the sermon was (you can read it here). It was the statement: Should our faith in Christ be bringing us answers or should it be raising questions? Essentially, we should be recognizing how we and the world are having problems and asking questions about how we can help like Christ helps.
Have fun conserving water. Let me know what ways you conserve, if you do.