There are times when I wish I had married a plumber. Like yesterday. When I first heard the drip, drip, drip coming from the shower head. I don't have a particular plumber in mind, and I've never dated a plumber, but the rates of the average plumber usually send me into this fantasy world. My fantasy plumber will look like George Clooney and will wear a belt with no hint of plumber crack... Alas, that's not the case. My husband is gifted in other ways but not the plumbing arts. More often than not, it's me who tackles these little home maintenance duties.
If you've ever questioned how much clean water is being wasted from a drippy faucet, question no more. I placed our "gray water" bucket under the drip and it filled to 5 gallons in a day.
Unlike a real plumber, I don't have any of the proper tools or parts or any know-how. Armed with a home improvement book, I have to take something apart before I can figure out what might be wrong. Today I started with the least expensive part first -- a rubber gasket that looked old and cracked near where the drip was coming from. One trip to the hardware store and 24 cents later, I returned home, put everything in place.... Drip, drip, drip. Sigh.... Muttered a few choice words.
Back to the hardware store. This time I bought a whole new inline vacuum breaker dealy-bob. Returned home $15.99 poorer. Installed the thing. Went down to the basement to turn the water main back on. Said a prayer on each and every step coming back upstairs: please don't be dripping any more. please don't be dripping any more. please-please-please.
I'm a sucker for factoids. This quarter's water bill from the Portland Water Bureau included this tasty little tidbit:
Did you know that you can drink 748 gallons of Portland's tap water for only $2.07?
Right on! Bartender, make mine a double! Of course we all know that bottled water costs more per gallon than gasoline. And most bottled water is just tap in a bottle.
As part of Portland's "I Only Drink Tap Water" campaign, you can get a bumper sticker or window cling at various water bureau events to support the drive to "drink local." The best part about drinking from the tap is that you don't support the bottled water industry, you reduce massive amounts of transportation costs associated with trucking water, and you don't have to throw away or recycle the mountains of plastic bottles that some Americans seem to love so. I don't know about you, but I can no longer stand the taste of water in a plastic bottle after having switched to a metal water bottle.
A couple of years ago we visited my in-law's house and I remember feeling quite appalled when my husband explained to me that there was a bucket in the shower/tub of his parents' bathroom to capture the clean, cold water coming out of the faucet before it turns warm enough to shower. I can't even describe my reaction. It just seemed so cheap and utterly insane. My husband gave me a look that said "You're telling me?!? This is one of many reasons why I don't live here anymore!"
Now, I'm a bit chagrined at my original reaction to the shower bucket. Because if you look into my shower, you'll find one just like it. In the summer, we use this mini reservoir to water outdoors plants. Now in the wetter months, the water is mostly used for cleaning. When we actually remember to bathe the children, we use this water to help fill up the tub.
I don't foist it on my guests (there's no bucket in the guest bathroom). Only the master. I also acknowledge that there's a risk in leaving a water-filled bucket in homes with small children, and only went this route when I felt my kids would not risk drowning themselves in it.
We are heading out of town to visit my in-laws this weekend, and although we won't be staying at their house, I have a much changed attitude. They've always been "savers" so I look forward to the creative ideas we may learn from them on this trip.
I first read about the huge mess of plastic swirling around in the Pacific ocean on MomGoGreen.com. I didn't want to believe it. I avoided reading about it at first. But it's really a sickening, huge mess. Please read her post to find out more. We talked about this about our GreenGroup meeting last week. It's surprising that more people in the world don't know about this, nor if there's anything that can be done.
If you're intrigued, you can enjoy free Hot Lips Pizza and beer at Ecotrust (721 NW 9th Avenue) on May 5, 2008 and learn more about the effects of plastic on marine life in "Our Plastic Sea." The talk will be at 7pm, and will kickoff a statewide campaign about marine debris -- primarily plastic -- and what we can do about it. Free, but reserve your spot.
A friend sent me this link, made by the son of her friend. This video is a finalist in the Student "I Heart Tap Water" Video Contest. Darryl, the video's creator, is a former Portland resident. Well done, EnviroKid, er, well, Enviro College Student. But sure goes to show how raising kid green pays off later in life...
The contest aims to get the word out about the environmental damage caused by the mass consumption of bottled water, especially when tap water is just as good in the United States. Awards will go to the best video, and the one with the most views.
90% of the energy used in washing clothing is from heating the water
If you wash 80% or 4 out of 5 loads on cold/cold, you'll cut 72 pounds of CO2 emission in one month
If you wash 80% of your laundry on cold/cold for a year, you should save from $60-100 on your energy bills
So I tried it. And I can't complain at all. The clothing smells and looks just as clean as when I was washing on warm/cold. I can't believe I didn't try this sooner. I also worry a lot less about the laundry, because usually I forget to read the tags and don't know when to wash delicate things on cold. Now everything is on cold. And it's good. I'm curious now to compare some of our electricity bills with past years to see if we are really saving money too.
I find myself with two pre-drippy faucets. They don't drip all the time. But sometimes, it seems like the valve doesn't get shut off all the way, or it seems to drip, drip, drip, drip, drip... then finally stop. I have a little brochure from the Portland Water Bureau that talks about how wasteful it is to ignore a drippy faucet. Buckets of clean water just dripping down into the sewer. And it says it's an easy do-it-yourself project. But I'm not so sure. Looks like a lot of little washers, screws, and specialized things (teflon tape?) are needed, and have to be put back in place, in order, and not screwed down too tight. The brochure does not account for my 5-year-old and 3-year-old plumbing apprentices sure to be "helping" at every step.
In our family, I'm the "handy-man", if you will. Cheap-o is our go-to guy for any kind of technical computer stuff.
I'll be the first to admit, I felt like a superhero when I fixed our running toilets last year. Just wondering if I should try and tackle these semi drippy faucets. Have you ever done it yourself? Let me know if it's do-able, or if I should just call a professional plumber.
Thank you Russell, for sending us this ABC news link about the Greywater Guerillas. Gosh, and I thought we were driven in our greywater reuse quest. Turns out we are mere greywater novices. I love what the Greywater Guerillas are doing. It's wonderful they've found ways to reuse such a great deal of water, at an incredibly affordable price. Too bad it violates local city plumbing codes. Is it worth breaking the rules to maximize greywater reuse? What do you think?