Could You Go Water-free?
For 24 hours, I went on a water diet. No, it’s not the next fad in weight loss; it was an experiment in using less of one of the earth’s most precious resources.
My assignment began first thing in the morning as I fumbled for my toothbrush, still in a sleep-induced haze. I mindlessly reached for the faucet, but before a single drop was wasted, I stopped myself. I decided to take my toothbrush into the shower, where I could multitask my cleansing.
I’ve long since abandoned one of my favorite (wasteful) luxuries -- the 20-minute shower. But this morning, I put myself on the clock to see how much of my normal routine I could squeeze in while using as little water as possible.
With my toothbrush ready and my two-in-one shampoo/conditioner in hand, I turned on the faucet. In a mad dash of suds and scrubbing, I managed to wash my face, hair and body, and to brush my teeth in less than five minutes. Success! Sure, it wasn’t as relaxing as my usual routine, but I left the shower feeling energized and completely clean.
After dressing, I strolled into the kitchen, where a small stack of dinner dishes remained from the night before. I took a deep breath and came up with a strategy to tackle the task at hand using as little water as possible. Because our sink only has one large basin, I decided that it would be best to do the dishes in shifts.
First, I filled up the sink with a small amount of soapy water. After scraping the dishes, I dipped each one in the sudsy water, scrubbed it and set it aside. Once each plate took a soapy plunge, I drained the sink, filled it with a small amount of clean water, rinsed each dish and placed it on the rack to dry.
The process seemed to take a bit longer than my usual habit of leaving the water running as I scrubbed and rinsed each plate individually, but knowing that I consumed half the amount of water than usual made the extra two minutes feel worth it. And because my shower was so much shorter in the morning, I noticed that I was still ahead of schedule as I walked out the door.
Throughout the day, I found a few more ways to use less. In the restroom, I considered whether it was necessary to flush. Because I was in a public stall, I decided yes; if I had been at home, though, I think I could have held off. Afterward, when I went to wash my hands, I soaped up first, and then turned the water on to rinse.
That night, I met a friend at a restaurant for dinner and asked the waiter to leave our silverware and table settings between courses. Although it was a small gesture, the restaurant had to wash fewer cutleries at the end of the day, which meant less water was used for our meal.
Before bed, I turned the water off while brushing my teeth and quickly splashed my face clean.
Although it took practice to be more mindful, after a day of water-dieting, I saw how very little I had to change to make a difference. My assignment may officially be over, but I think my work to save water has just begun.