A couple years ago, I was speaking at the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education’s annual conference. One of the attendees brought a dozen two-gallon buckets that she handed out to anyone who wanted one. Their purpose? To collect shower water as it heats up, rather than letting the water run down the drain. “The water can be used to water plants or flush toilets,” she said.
Being a water and energy miser, I took one and have been using it religiously for the past two years to flush the toilets at my home in Colorado and at my residence at my educational center (The Evergreen Institute) in Missouri.
You might want to give this a try, too. To flush a toilet with a bucket of water, pour a few quarts into the bowl directly over the opening. Pour quickly. This sends the waste water down the drain. Once the bowl drains, pour a few more quarts gently into the bowl away from the opening. This will fill it once again. It won’t take long until you’ve mastered this technique.
Interestingly, each two gallons I collect saves three gallons of water a day. That’s because I typically get two 1.5-gallon flushes per bucket, saving 3 gallons per day. In a single year, this technique can save 1100 gallons.
The bucket technique also helps you gauge when it’s time to hop in the shower – possibly saving more water. In my house, by the time the bucket is about three-fourths full, the water is hot and ready to go. No guesswork or hand sampling water temperature!
This technique also saves energy. The more water you save, the less energy is required to deliver it to your home – either by your well pump (for those of us who live in the country) or by your local water provider.
So, a bucket a day can really help hold global warming at bay. It’s a small step, but when added to the many other things we can do, can result in huge savings. Why not give it a try?
Contributing editor Dan Chiras is a renewable energy and green homes expert who has spent a lifetime learning life’s lessons, which he shares in his popular blog, Dan Chiras on Loving Life. He’s the founder and director of The Evergreen Institute and president of Sustainable Systems Design. Contact him by visiting his website or finding him on Google+.