Our recent warm weather has been turning my thoughts “green”. Last year, for one of our new year’s “resolutions” we decided that we wouldn’t buy bottled water anymore, but rather, invest in a couple of decent re-usable water bottles and just carry them with us. For the most part, we have accomplished this goal. I think G bought maybe 2 cases of bottled water last year, down from an average of 20 in previous years. I have a Nalgene bottle that I really like, and one other one that I got at REI. I can usually be seen wandering around the house with at least one of them in my hand.
Living as we do in a relatively arid area that has recently experienced a 10-year drought, I am very conscious about water, its uses, and its wastes. A few months ago we got a Brita water filtration “pitcher” that holds about 2.5 gallons. We keep it on the counter and use a separate pitcher to keep it refilled as we use the water for drinking and cooking. I didn’t really think it made all that big a difference, because I thought our water was pretty good quality, but after drinking the filtered water for a few months, I took a glass right out of the tap not too long ago. Seriously, I thought I was drinking swimming pool water, the taste of chlorine was so strong. That’s a pause for thought.
One of the things I like to do when I get up in the morning early, is to make a pot of coffee. But, since G often sleeps a couple of hours later than I do, the coffee is usually not drinkable after sitting that long. I know, I could make a smaller pot, but I like to go back later and have another cup, too. So, this Christmas, she got me a very nice, sleek thermal carafe to put the coffee in. This gadget keeps the coffee nice and hot for several hours, AND keeps it from having that yukky burnt taste from sitting on the heat too long. However, to have the thermos work best, putting some hot water in it from the tap and “warming it up” first is a good idea.
Couple of weeks ago, I realized that I was letting a significant amount of water just run down the drain waiting for the water to get hot, so I decided to see just how much. I used the pitcher that I normally use to refill the Britta container. It took basically 2 pitchers of water to run in order for the water to get hot enough to heat up the thermos. So, now, instead of just letting that water run down the drain and into the sewer system here’s what I do: I fill up the coffee pot from the filtered water. This brings the water level down. Running the hot water, I fill up the pitcher once, and pour it in the container, then fill up the pitcher again to use it for refilling later. By this time, the water is hot, so I put about half a carafe full in the coffee carafe to warm it up. One the coffee is done, I pour that hot water into the dishpan to help with washing up the breakfast dishes.
As I write this, it sounds like a really involved and time consuming process, but it’s not. For me it’s a way of being mindful of how we use a very precious resource–our water. And over the course of writing this, I have realized that I probably waste more than that running the water to get hot for my shower in the morning. Perhaps I’ll get a 5-gallon bucket to run that water in and use it to water the fruit trees. Sounds like a plan!
Our second “resolution” came about by accident. I was at our local health food store, in the checkout lane, and I saw these little nylon “bundles” hanging by the cashier. I asked her what they were. She told me they were individual carry bags that folded up into themselves and you could hook them to your purse, fanny pack or stick them in a pocket, and always have a bag ready when you ran in just to get “a few things”. It was $3.00 and I had to have one. So now, I have this great, lightweight, strong bag (I recently put 5 library books in it!) that will allow us to save on using the plastic bags then end up blowing all over the place. Granted–we do re-use a lot of those bags ourselves, but if you can save using them in the first place, great. I love this bag because it is so compact:
Today, I went to the store for just a couple of things. I used this and it was perfect. Just think of all the bags we could save if every one had one of these and used it even twice a week! The numbers are staggering.
Small things add up, and neither of these things is difficult to do–it only requires a little forethought to make a big impact.