September 21, 2005


We were delighted to discover that, according to Seattle Public Utilities, our household used 1,500 fewer gallons of water during this current billing cycle than during the same billing cycle in 2004. This is very encouraging. Our water saving techniques are working, even though we are still refining them and still discovering them.

GARDEN: Better soil means less watering. We also mulch when and where we can (can do more!). I also make sure to water specifically and deliberately where it is needed. We don't utilize a sprinkler. Still room for improvement. We don't water our grass so that is a big savings. Washing veggies is now done outside if at all possible. I pick 'em and wash 'em right in the yard. The water goes right back into the garden. If I must take the food inside to be washed, I dump the water back into the yard between rinses. The cat bowl gets emptied into a houseplant every day before refilling.

KITCHEN: No dishwasher. No plans to get one. Would have to be approved by the owner anyway. But we're not interested. We no longer fill the sink with hot, soapy water. We use a smaller basin. Once the other side of the sink is full of washed dishes, we rinse the whole batch at one time and don't use the biggest gush of water to do it. The leftover dish water is "gray" water and can be used on non-edible plants. This can go into the flower bed.

BATH: We take shorter showers. We're in - we're out. A long time ago I started to sit on the edge of the tub to shave my legs because it was easier on my back. But it also saves water because the water is barely running while I do this. It's on just to get the legs wet and soapy and to rinse the razor. Of course, we brush our teeth with the water off. But the biggest bathroom water saver (and waster!) has been the toilet. Not only did Julie replace the innards to prevent leaks, but we subscribe to the old adage, "If it's yellow let it mellow..." Say what you will, but we have save TONS of water this way. The toilet is a huge waste of water. Letting the liquid deposits mellow is ideal for saving water. Admittedly, we do not hold our company to this and we flush every time during a party or gathering, etc. However, if you come to visit for any extended length of time, you will be expected to give it your best attempt at being mellow if you leave yellow.

LAUNDRY: We wash full loads only. And I often set the water level a notch lower than I used to.

We will be getting a rain barrel for the upcoming winter. On the one hand, collecting the water is great. On the other, in order for us to water our garden for any long-term stretch, we'd need several rain barrels, all full. But every bit helps. We will start with one.

Our showers could be shorter still. We could still use less to wash the dinner dishes. We can get a water saving shower head. There is always room for imporvement.


  1. My Grandfather (in Parma, OH) has a set of rain barrels he's been using for years. He swears by them and has an awesome garden. He claims that city water isn't as good for your garden as the water that falls from the sky - you know... chemicals and such (as if there isn't any chemicals in the north east Ohio rain, with all the pollution from Ford plant and such). I don't know if there is any validity to that, but his tomatoes are amazing. Good luck!

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