Conserve water + save money using this one simple trick!
You’ve got your glorious Great Lakes. Don’t forget about the ol’ Chesapeake Bay. And snow melt. Rivers. Rain.
All that combined accounts for only 1 percent of available drinking water!
The rest? It’s locked inside the polar ice caps. Which, I don’t need to tell you by now, are melting rapidly, right into the salty oceans.
So kiss that water g’bye.
There are vast swaths of the world that are operating under continuous drought conditions. Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa, India and Afghanistan are just a few of the countries so deprived of rainfall that they suffer from crop devastation and their people don’t have enough food.
These losses cost billions of dollars, not to mention joblessness and malnourishment.
But this is happening here in the U.S., too. Take a look at this map from the U.S. Drought Monitor and you’ll notice the famous Four Corners area is considered to be under “Exceptional Drought” conditions right now. It stretches outward from there in every direction.
My sister lives where humans weren’t meant to; in the California desert, where it’s Not Okay to water your lawn even though there are numerous active wildfires burning as I write this.
As such, she’s surrounded her home in hardy plants, like rock rose, that don’t ignite as quickly as your average hosta.
Last week, Jerry Brown, California’s governor, set ambitious new mandates for water conservation—which, if residents don’t follow them, they could get slapped with steep fines and penalties.
It’s hard for people like me then, who live in places like perpetually-rain-soaked, river-encased, flood-prone Pittsburgh—or Seattle or Portland or Maine—to even comprehend what a water shortage must be like.
Venezuela. Land of the years-long water crisis.
My brother- and sister-in-law (other side of the family) live there. To cope with intermittent shortages of pretty much everything—from cheese to soap to wine to potable water—Venezuelans have had to get creative.
One trick they live by, and which my in-laws taught us, is what I call the Mercy Bucket. It’s not complicated, folks. It’s straightforward, stupid simple: flush your toilet with a bucket of water you got from...somewhere that’s NOT your toilet’s tank.
Like, for instance, rain.
Or your shower, because you know you let the water run for three minutes before it heats up to a tolerable temp. Stick a bucket on the floor of your shower stall from now on and save all that cold stuff!
Dump it in your toilet the next time you drop a deuce and, wah-lah! Like magic, everything floating in there drops right down into the pipes, just as if you’d pulled the lever.
We have a broken kitchen sink hose right now that’s leaking all over creation. Guess what? I stuck a bucket under that puppy and I’m saving all the water it’s wasting so I can flush the toilet with it after I drink my ninth glass of water for the day!
Do you have any idea how much water—and money—you could save if you use the Mercy Bucket, too?
According to ConserveH20, “Older toilets use 3.5, 5, or even up to 7 gallons of water with every flush. Federal plumbing standards now specify that new toilets can only use up to 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF), and there are high efficiency toilets that use up to 1.28 GPF.”
I don’t “do” math, so let’s pick an easy average. We’ll say each of us uses 2 gallons of water every time we flush a commode the old fashioned way.
At my house, we recently installed a high-efficiency toilet like this one in our first-floor powder room. I dunno about you, but I work from home, so I use the throne probably 10 times a day. I rarely make it all the way to the high-efficiency one though when I’m running from my third-floor office. I get as far as the second-floor old-timer to conduct business, which is the less green choice, unfortunately.
Given our 2-gallon-per-flush average—which is generous—that’s 20 gallons of water I’m using every day in flushing alone.
Let’s take it a step further. According to Statista.com, the average homeowner’s water bill is $70 a month, estimated for families of four where each person uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water per day total.
But, “Families that consistently use less (around 50 gallons per person per day) spend around $34 per month,” says CreditDonkey.com.
Think about that.
Could you cut your water bill in half?
Could you drastically reduce the amount of fresh water you use?
Do you have the chops to gather water from someplace else in your house or yard and use it for flushing?
What if your whole family tried it?
I’ll bet you have a two- or three-gallon bucket like this one laying around your basement. If not, you probably have $10 to buy one new.
(Word of advice: Don’t use a five-gallon. It's overkill. Too big and heavy.)
How long do you think it would take your new bucket to pay for itself because your water bill will be consistently lower in the coming months?
Go ‘head. Give the Mercy Bucket a try!
Let me know how it goes, and don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for doing your part to conserve!
I'm Janeen; writer, mother, wife, and full-time, radical Reductionist. I share stupid-easy tips on how to save money while reducing your impact on the environment, & I'm committed to helping others live a life of simple sustainability.