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Water, Water, Not Everywhere

A young woman I know is an Evironmental Minimalist. When I tried to give her some jeans I had that were her size she turned them down. She said she didn't need more than the two pair she already had. I didn't understand.

My son goes to Burning Man, and comes back every time totally STOKED~! I've listened to him describe how he discovered the awesomeness of living minimally, of being in the desert, of living responsibly with the environment, of being properly prepared for survival, not wasting water, and having a blast at it.

I go to his house and the toilet has not been flushed because he and his roommates responsible efforts to save water.  I pee. It's okay. It's only yellow. I've peed over much worse than that when I was a kid sitting in an outhouse out in the woods behind my Aunt Laura's house.

Among other things that I have been investigating regarding my green footprint, (maybe I should say yellow?) I've looked at how I have abused my right to water. I've thoughtlessly watered a yard that didn't need it.

I drove away in the car with the sprinkler running thinking I would be back in a few minutes and realizing 4 hours later, OH NO, I'd left the water running! Thoughtless! Criminally thoughtless! Especially since I live in California where we often have drought.
Now that I have admitted this wanton water wasting, I hope no one comes and burns an effigy of me in the front yard. I can just imagine going out to turn the hose on the fire only to discover someone has turned the water off! I'm working diligently to wipe this nightmare from my mind. I promise!

The city I live in has been awarded a government grant to provide low flow toilets to all residents who ask for them. This includes installation. Yes, this is your tax dollars at work.  I made an appointment. They were supposed to show up today, but didn't. I called. They rescheduled for another day. 

Okay, so this is hard to admit "publicly" (does anybody ever read this blog?) but, in the last few months I have been diligently trying to remember to not flush if it is just urine. Ew! Did I really write that word out loud? Yes, I did. There it is, right in front of my eyes. Urine.

What is it they say? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'd like to add that value is in the mind of the thinker.

Did you know that urine has value? Of course, it would be disastrous if we could not produce any. We would die. It's a precious fluid our bodies produce. Did you know that in certain cultures there are prayers of thanks given to the deity for the ability to produce and excrete urine? Did you know that urine is necessary to cure leather?  Did you know our Astronauts partake of their own urine? After properly treated urine is drinkable as pure water. They do that on the International Space Station.

I'm not suggesting we drink our urine. Nor that we all not flush the average of 250 cc that goes into the toilet when we micturate. Though, think about it. Just think about it a minute. How many gallons does it take to flush away that one cup of urine. It takes an average of 3 to 7 gallons to dispose of what was a cup of latte a short time ago!!!

The amount of water wasted depends on how old your toilet is. Less ancient models than mine usually use about three gallons, they say. The newest models, like the one I'm supposed to have installed next week, flushes about one and a half gallons.

After I called my local water company, I learned where to find how many gallons of water I have donated to the local sewer system every month, by washing dishes, clothes, bathing, watering the yard, washing the car and flushing. Guess what? It's a lot. Not only could I save water by being more conscious, more minimalist, but I could save a lot of money off my water bill. Too bad there are no incentive reward points or something like that to encourage people to use less water.

Some websites I've read mention that as much as 30% of our water usage is from flushing the toilet. Yikes! That sure is an expensive way to get rid of our pee!


  1. I'm in awe of your efforts. OK you wasted water accidentally, but you have learned from your mistake. That's what life is about.
    We had low flush toilets installed when we moved to our current house ~ although sadly thee was no grant to help us. The exiting toilets were broken so we had to replace them anyway.

  2. Elizabeth, you've inspired me. I have water-saving toilets, but I'm going to start flushing once a day anyway.

  3. You have done your homework! I am impressed!

  4. A lot to think about. I will have to start making an effort to conserve. My kids, the two youngest are really good about not flushing the toilet...but my stomach turns when I see it like that and that upsets my stomach for a good part of the day. I don't think our toilets are low flush, it's a rental house so they are not ours to change out.

    How are you doing?

  5. Call your local water company. Ask if they have a free low flow toilet program. There have been a lot of government grants for them. I'm a renter, so I had to get my landlord to sign giving his permission. He had no problem having someone install a brand new toilet. My daughter says: "If it's yellow, it's mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

  6. All our cats drink out of toilet. I've heard that if you put a brick in the tank it helps. CA is soooooooooo ahead of the Mid-West....

  7. Putting a brick in your toilet tank is not a good idea. Bricks tend to crumble and might damage the toilet's flushing mechanism. Instead, use a glass jar, a plastic bag, or a jug filled with water. Because some toilets require a certain volume of water to work right, be sure to test the toilet to make sure it is still flushing well after any change.


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