One in a whenever-the-heck-I-feel-like-it series.
“We’re not in a drought,” he tells me. “What does it matter how much water I use?” This is actually quite true. If you live in an area with plenty of water, your water use has no effect on the environment. Really. None at all. Of course that only is the case if you use solely rain water that you have collected in huge tubs in your backyard. And if you use only cold water. And if you hand-remove the sh*t from the toilet after use, carrying it out to your backyard as fertilizer, perhaps.
If, however, you are lazy, like me, you prefer to get your water from turning on the tap, which means the water companies must use energy to carry the water to your house. (Energy production creates waste.) And, if you are a hedonist, like me, you prefer to shower and wash your hands in warm water, using energy to heat the water. (Energy production creates waste.) And, if you are living in a house with two little sh*t-producing machines, like my children, you might prefer to flush the toilet, which means the water companies must then use energy to clean the water that goes down the drain. (Energy production creates waste.)
Unfortunately, there is not some guy sitting outside your house watching the water flow out your sewer and deciding whether the water coming out is dirty and needs processing or is clean and can go right back into the supply (what a job that would be). The water companies have to work under the assumption that all the water that goes down the drain has been sullied and requires processing. So, even if you are in the next room clipping your toenails while the sink runs, the water is going to need to be cleaned, using energy. (Energy production creates waste.)
This, as I understand it, is the basic argument for conserving water, even if you live somewhere with 347 days of rain each year. (Sometimes, I feel like I live somewhere like that.) If I am wrong, please, one of the more scientific minds out there should feel free to correct me. Or give me more details to make my argument stronger. (Alina, maybe?)
What I like about water conservation is how easy it is. Mostly, it consists of not doing things. This, as you know, is my area of expertise. Take the toilets. Now, there are people who visit the toilet three, maybe four, times a day. These are not people who have given birth to children. (To be fair, I had a tiny bladder before having children, but I like to blame as much on my kids as possible.) I visit that little room about once an hour. Zachary is only slightly more continent than I am, so he is in there pretty frequently, as well, and most of the time he actually hits his target, peeing in the toilet. When you factor in a few visits from the big guy, that’s a lot of water down the toilet. So, we just do not flush. I mean, we flush, but not very often. We wait till someone has made a solid contribution before pulling the handle.
Nor is this the only way we help out the planet simply by being lazy. We make group trips. You see, Zach prefers an escort on most trips to the bathroom. If I were to just take him and then wait to go myself, I’d be in there every twenty minutes. So, when I have to go, he goes. When he has to go, I go. (I don’t recommend this for parents with twelve-year-olds.) While we’re at it, we change Benjamin’s diaper. We are in there already – let’s make the most of the hike up the steps. This way, even if there is some flushing to be done, we have cut our flushing by half.
Much has been made lately of the two-minute Navy shower. This is something I never could quite accomplish. I spend at least a minute each shower having to adjust the constantly fluctuating water temperature, so maybe all those Navy-showerers have better plumbing systems. I have, however, come up with a few ways to greatly reduce my time pouring water down the drain.
First of all – and men might want to look away for this paragraph – I have started waxing my legs. Ideally, I would not put any time or resources into hair-removal at all, under the principle that the only reason I covet hairless legs is because I have bought into a patriarchal society that insists women have to spend hours each day grooming themselves. Since we do not live in an ideal world and I have bought into a patriarchal society that requires me to spend at least 15 minutes each day grooming myself, I still do the hair-removal thing. Shaving, however, is very time-consuming. Not to mention water-consuming. Since I need to wax monthly anyway due to certain unfortunate dark-haired tendencies to grow hair in socially unacceptable places, I started doing my legs, as well. Shorter showers, less time spent balancing on one leg while dragging a sharp object across the other.
Men can look back now.
The other method I have devised for shortening my showers is, if I say so myself, pure genius. It is so simple, so effective, and so utterly satisfying, I cannot imagine why I did not think of it before. It appeals to the very core of my lazy soul.
I sleep in.
That’s it. I sleep later. Nowadays, I actually sleep until the kids wake up. Then I tell Zachary to chat with Benjamin in his crib for a few minutes while I hop in the shower. If knowing that your three-year-old is entertaining your one-year-old does not make you take a faster shower, I don’t know what will.
If you cannot wait until the children wake up, I suggest at least sleeping in so that you have only a few minutes before they wake up. Nothing speeds up a shower like wondering if your kids have leapt out of bed and are rearranging the furniture while you stand there in the steam.
If you do not have children, just sleep in. You have a train to catch? A job to get to? Fantastic. Get ten extra minutes of shut-eye, then hop in the shower. I guarantee you will use less water. And – here’s the best part – you will get more sleep. As far as I am concerned, the only respectable motive in life is more sleep.
I would start talking about turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, but if you are not doing that already, it seems pretty clear that the environment does not top your list of concerns.