March 4th, 2014
It’s difficult to think about water conservation when we’ve had steady rain for the past few weeks. But the truth is we should be thinking conservation every day. Too much plain water being released into the bay will reduce the salt levels unbalancing the ecosystem. Too much water will drown your plants, or cause root rot.
First, we’ll talk about the best way to water your landscaping. Reduce the watering down to the point where you’re keeping the plants happy. If you’re re-landscaping, look into drought tolerant plants as well as native plants. Finally, water first thing in the morning to prevent evaporation and root rot.
Now here’s some things to think about when you’re at the sink.
Rather than running the tap when cleaning vegetables, use a bowl of water. Later, reuse it to water outdoor plants. Reusing water from rinsing out the coffeepot for outdoor plants, the compost or lawn is something we do all the time. Rich in nitrogen as well as some trace minerals, coffeepots should be diluted with water before using. Choose a different group of plants every day and you may find you no longer have to water or fertilize them very often at all. Cooking water (pasta, steamed vegetables, boiled potatoes etc.) can be used in the same way – just let it cool first. All of these water sources contain extra nutrients that will aid your gardens immensely. Very hot cooking water can be used to kill weeds – simply pour it directly on the weed and around its roots.
After meals, scrape your dishes into the compost bucket before rinsing. While rinsing, place other soiled dishes, jars and utensils underneath while you work; it will begin the presoaking process – reducing labor and water use. Anything caught in the sink basket can be contributed to the compost, too.
Save about 5 gallons of water per washing by doing dishes in a few inches of hot soapy water. It may seem funny to do this – but by turning the hot water tap on to rinse the dishes into the sink the level will slowly increase and will maintain a hot temperature. This way, another sink full of water solely for rinsing is no longer necessary. We sometimes use rinse water to pre-soak stuck on dishes as well.
In the winter, the water from washing or soaking dishes should be left to cool. This way it releases its valuable heat into the home, rather than the sewer. Dishwashers, that are not built-in, allow reuse of the water for pre-rinsing heavily soiled dishes because they drain into the sink. The water can be trapped in the sink, or a soiled pot, where the heat is slowly released into the home, saving energy costs in the winter. Of course, the opposite applies in the summer, when extra heat is not desirable.
Very hot water is not always necessary for all washing and rinsing needs. Usually, by the time we are finished washing our hands, the water is just beginning to warm up – so really, all we have done is heat up our pipes. We can conserve water easily by turning off the tap while lathering hands. The running water is really only necessary for initial wetting, then rinsing – so running water in between is really a waste.