I was at an Applebee’s with my friend Jo one evening; we were sitting at the bar having a drink and splitting a Chinese chicken salad. The bartender/server was very cordial and efficient. One thing struck a raw nerve, however: she turned a faucet on behind the bar and just let the water run — not to fill a sink or to wash anything; she simply turned the faucet on and let the water run, for about a minute. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to see what her motivation was, but I am sure that she planned to wash something at some point.
I wasn’t in the mood to lecture her on water conservation, and I opted not to write a letter, but now I am sort of regretting not doing one or the other.
That said, I cannot write for 40 days straight and not address something that I feel very strongly about, and that truly affects us all; and what better day than Election Day 2012 to jump on my own soapbox? It’s called “water conservation.”
Sometimes I will be at a friend’s house and they will turn their kitchen faucet on and just let the water run. I’m not sure if they are waiting for it to get hot, or cold, or whatever, but I tend to assert myself a bit more in this situation, and turn the water off. “I’m sorry, but California is in a water crisis,” I will politely tell them. “Let me grab a pitcher or something I can run this water into until the temperature is right, then you can water plants with it later.”
Sometimes my actions are met with defensiveness. Yeah, some of you may be out there right now, saying, “Sure, Kelly, fill up that pitcher, so I can throw the water right back into your self-righteous face!”
Seriously, I’m not trying to undermine anyone or make them feel bad; I am only trying to remind them how crucial it is to try and save water whenever possible, and to also try and educate them on how easy and efficient it can all be.
First, let me start by avowing that I don’t necessarily belong to the “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down,” camp, and no one is suggesting you take that particular stance, either, unless you so choose. But just think for a moment about your own general water use, and if perhaps there are some simple adjustments that you can make.
My own method is to keep a couple of gallon-sized Rubbermaid containers in my master bath where I shower everyday, and hold one of these containers under the shower water as I wait for it to warm up. I then use most of the conserved water for plants, rinsing out the sink or bathtub, replenishing the dogs’ water dishes and sometimes — if I am up for lugging the filled containers downstairs — to help fill our outdoor fountain.
Yes, fountain; one of features I enjoy most about our “outdoor living room” is the soothing sound of trickling water from our patina stone fountain. The water recycles through a pump; however some also evaporates, so I find myself having to top it off almost on a daily basis, usually with the garden hose. Collecting shower water and conserving in other ways helps to compensate for this indulgence.
I also tend to go through quite a bit of water when entertaining, where food prep and clean up are essential. Although I never let the kitchen faucet run with abandon, you might say that this is where I sort of “cash in” on some of the water that I have saved. Regardless, considering my conscientiousness all other times, I am still coming out ahead.
If you are already helping to conserve water, please know that your efforts are appreciated. If you are curious about ways in which you can save, here is one website that you can pull from:
Although refusing to conserve water during a drought isn’t quite as irresponsible or dangerous as throwing a cigarette butt out your car window in the midst of fire season, it still smacks of the same apathy, entitlement issues and/or “all about me-ism.”
If including this subject in my “40 Days of Writing” project can influence just a handful of people to make even some minor adjustments in their everyday water use, then I have done even more of my share when it comes to water conservation; and that feels really good.
This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by Kelly Danek. She may be “all wet” at times, but her heart and integrity are usually in the right place.