Water Usage: A Drop in the Bucket

I am so excited to be starting no impact week! In just preparing for reducing my water use, I learned a great deal about my impact on the environment. According to the water footprint calculator, pre-no impact week, I used roughly 441 cubic meters of water per year (about 116,500 gallons/year). I can’t say that this was entirely accurate since my eating in the dining hall excluded the dishwashing portion of the calculator, but I think it’s fairly close. In comparison with the average American lifestyle of consuming about 657,000 gallons of water per year (1800 gal/day), I’d say I was doing rather well. Yet I still look at the 116,500 gallons of water I use with a heavy dose of disgust. I mean, more than a hundred thousand gallons of water for one person? As far as water goals go for this week, I decided that I wanted to drastically reduce this number. My normally 15 minute-long showers have been cut to five minutes. This wasn’t the worst thing in the world, however, since I rediscovered the genius of the military shower. Throughout my childhood, my family went sailing in various places, and living on a sailboat really taught me ways to conserve water. A boat can only hold so much freshwater in its tanks, and once you use it up, you’re stuck with no water until you reach the next port. Our showers were every other day (you could rinse off in the sea water the nights you didn’t get a shower) and they were only allowed to be two minutes each with the water running. However, this never meant I wasn’t allowed to be in the shower for upwards of 15 minutes without the water running. Essentially, you just turn the water on to wet yourself down; keep it off while you shampoo and shave and so forth, and to turn it on again to rinse everything off. This military style was required on a boat, and I relied heavily upon it during my five-minute shower tonight. Besides the shower, the majority of my water usage comes from the foods I eat. Not surprisingly, foods lower on the food chain typically have a lower water footprint, so I started with vegan meals today, which wasn’t far from the food I normally eat. So I’d say No Impact Week is off to a good start!

Work Cited:

“What You Can Do: Water Has No Substitute; Share It Wisely.” National Geographic. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/top-ten/>.


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