Tag Archives: Water

you left the water running…


I loved reading Andy’s feedback on his own “Cap and Trade” adventures – we have had some serious and long conversations about this game thus far but I had no idea he was showering with a bucket!! Good on ya Andy! The only time I did that I was in a small village in Tanzania where there was no running water in any homes for miles. Everyone in the village shared one water tank/cistern. You had to use a bucket to bathe, do laundry and dishes. It took some getting use to but I got pretty good at it by the end of my time there. When I knew I was taking from the same water supply that everyone else was taking from, it really made me think about how much water I really needed compared to how much I actually normally use in my American home.

With this in mind, I also have tried to really become aware of my water current usage. I have not been quite as resourceful as Andy (carrying a bucket down the dock with me to the shower did not enter my mind), but I have been experimenting with a few other techniques in saving water outside of adopting the “if its yellow let it mellow” motto. I have been trying to collect rainwater when I can with my own bucket on the deck of the boat. When I am successful at collecting it – I use it for doing dishes. I have also been reusing the water used to hard boil my eggs in the morning or make pasta with for washing my dishes.

Like Andy, I realized that showering was a huge waste of water, so I started to zero in on this one aspect to see if I could change my habits. I have not been collecting my excess shower water but I have been making more of an effort to conserve the water that I currently am using in the shower. As I mentioned before, I live in a marina that has shared bathroom facilities. One of the things I really like about this set up is that the bathrooms are equipped with both energy and water conserving mechanisms. The lights are on a timer dial and the shower has an on/off valve to set the water pressure.

To start off attempting to cut my water use, I started showering every other day instead of daily and sometimes (gasp!) I go 2 days without showering. I also have tried shortening the length of my shower, using the timer that controls the lights in the bathroom. I set the timer for 10 minutes and if I am in the shower for over that 10 minutes the lights will go out leaving me in complete darkness. (there are no windows in the bathroom) This is a great incentive to shower efficiently! Each day I have been trying to beat my record for the shortest shower. My best as of now is 5 minutes. I also realized that when showering there is no reason the water needs to be on the entire time. Like Andy noted, so much water runs wastefully down the drain. I think the best way to save it is to lower the water pressure or turn it off entirely. I started just turning the water off or down to a drip when lathering up or washing my hair. And then turn it back on when I need to rinse.

Out of everything that I am doing to avoid points or subtract them, I think this particular effort is the one practice that has easily become a habit and will most likely stick. I never thought I would be sharing my personal showering habits with an online public (super weird!) but I think it’s actually an effort that anyone could adopt easily that could potentially save a lot on our water usage and bills. My marinas shower has a nozzle similar to this one. It is under $10. Order one now! There is NO reason not to try it out!  Please share some more ideas for water conservation if you have them.  Every drop in the bucket counts.


This has been my theme song for the past few weeks… and yes you might find me singing this one in the shower.

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checks and balances


I have never been a numbers person. Honestly, keeping track of anything in a formulaic way has always been  counterintuitive for me.  I’ve just finished week one of this “Cap and Trade” system and am finding that balancing my actual environmental habits to be less difficult and than balancing the points on the scoring card. I am now wishing I had been asked to brush up on some mathematical equations in my last logic chapter; it may have helped me create a tool for tracking all the miles of driving, cubic feet of waste, gallons of water, and hours of electricity I am using this month.

I have never even balanced my checkbook technically, but I also have never overdrawn. It may not be logical but I usually sense when something is off balance and then adjust as needed.  I just make sure that I keep to my moderate spending habits and try to stay on the frugal side of things. I have tried to adopt this mode of operation to this game. So I’m not sure what my point results will reveal in the end, but one thing has become extremely clear. I am now more aware of everything I do on a daily basis more than I ever thought I could be (or wanted to be!). I mean who tracks how many times they flush a toilet in a database?

Within days, I  determined what my highest point scoring habits include: driving my car, charging my laptop/phone, eating food that has an unknown origin and showering daily. Some of these things were easy to scale back right away. (like cutting back on my amount of showers and length of them) But others can not be changed overnight – giving up my car would mean giving up my job and giving up my computer would also mean giving up my job. I decided to avoid unemployment and focus on the areas in which there was potential to shift. Food and Water. These two things I have direct control over changing in my daily life.

Or do I? Even these decisions, in which I thought I had ultimate control over, are a lot more complex than I originally thought. I didn’t make it past my first meal of the month before I became tangled up in the logistics of how to “score” my eating habits.

Dinner number one:  I had a salad with greens from my own garden, a tomato from a neighbors garden, some packaged baby carrots, a non organic cucumber and some salad dressing (with a ton of random ingredients) all from… the “local” grocery store, along with a turkey burger bearing a label saying it’s meat was “distributed” in near by Landover, MD Hmmm… something harvested by me, something locally harvested – other veggies from unknown territories and meat from where? If “distributed” means raised and processed, I think less than 100 miles away?  So how many points is that?

Things got pretty complicated even after examining one meal.  Knowing I got my food from the local food store was not knowing where my food is from.  Living in Annapolis, I am privileged to have access to many places that sell locally grown food, but I did find, after checking, that those stores and markets are actually scattered around the area and are a farther drive away than my local Grocery Store. I would also have to go to several different places to get all things locally.  Would the miles in my car out weigh the choice of the food? Hmmm… I had to check out the point system to find out. After checking I still was not sure.

While focusing on water consumption, this different dilemma surfaced:  I’m in a pubic bathroom in my favorite coffee shop remembering that every time I flush a toilet I am essentially wasting water (and gaining .5 points). I am wondering how the proprietor and other customers would feel about me implementing the, “if its yellow let it mellow” motto. I never opposed this idea but I had also never really fully adopted it. This was the first time I actually found myself pondering this predicament.  Do I do what’s considered “rude” and leave pee unflushed in a public toilet or do I waste the water and enable this water wasting habit we have all taken part in for years? I caved that time and succumbed to the “avoid doing what is rude rule” that my mother taught me long ago.

It’s ridiculous that I even have time or head space to think about such a “dilemma” as this let alone ponder it for the rest of the day. Later that evening I brought it up again in a phone conversation with “Logic and Order” chapter writer Gabe DellaVecchia. “Do you leave pee in public toilets?” I asked.  He lived in Portland Oregon where he said that the “if its yellow let it mellow motto” is the norm, not only in personal homes but in public places as well. He said you may get labeled a “hippie” for letting the yellow mellow but heck that seems  a lot better label than being called “rude”.

Is it rude to save water? Are we still being labeled negatively for trying to conserve? Well I guess we all have opinions on the right and wrong ways of doing things and we all feel differently about what’s important (in this case our etiquette  or our conservation habits). But we can only make decisions for ourselves in our personal lives… OR do we need to work harder as a culture together to make these changes acceptable?

This game has filled my head with an overwhelming amount to think about and its only week one! Not only am I now thinking about how my personal choices are impacting everything and everyone around me but I am also pondering how and why we have come to make the choices we do and what kind of support we may or may not have for trying to make those changes toward a better outcome?

It seems like we are up against a lot of different obstacles when trying to do something like lower our personal impact on the environment. Beyond just the system in which we track our habits, there is the structure of the city we live in, our culture, our economic status and our upbringing.  These are just a few of the factors that I haven’t even touched on yet.  What were you taught as a child about how to make your decisions.  Were you raised to conserve water or conserve money? Did you grow up on fast food or grow your own food?

I am curious about finding a system that could help us all shift our habits while taking into account our different starting points.  (does this exist?) And are we even in a position to be able to make the changes we want to or will we have the access to do so? These are some of the bigger questions I’ve been wrestling with this week along with the “pee in public toilet dilemma”.

What do you think? How can we assess and accept the path where we have come from to get to a new place of balance where we’d all like to be?


Please join Chapter 3 writer Andy and I in the Cap and Trade Game and track your own habits! You may learn something about yourself and the possibly the environment in which you live and where you came from. Just click here and add your name to play.

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