When it comes to getting it on with the Stewards (future post to come), size really does not matter. It’s the repetitive action that affects climax, uhhh, climate change. In lay terms, our habits.
So let’s examine one of them: the morning ritual.
We wake up in the morning, do a full-out stretch, roll over, look out the window, shriek, use an explicative, then drop to the floor commando style, crawl over yesterday’s unmentionables and inch our fingers up to the housecoat hanging on the bathroom door, then slip into it as we squirm back beside the bed where we magically pop up Mr.-Bean-like as if we hadn’t forgotten to pull the drapes and the voyeurs in the office building next door weren’t having their perfectly timed coffee break…again. Off to the bathroom we go.
Well, maybe not ALL of us have that exact routine, but at some point, we do end up going to the bathroom to make ourselves presentable so…
You’re leaning over the sink staring at the mirror as you fumble for your toothbrush and squeeze a blob of goop on it. You turn on the faucet, pass the toothbrush under it and let water flow as you groggily poison your mouth with fluoride. Stop! Rewind. Go back to the moment just before your hand reaches the tap. Tell your hand: “Freeze! Step away from the hardware.” Then nonchalantly walk your fingers to your hip, lean on one leg, look at yourself in the mirror and say “I’m foxy!”.
Go ahead. No one’s watching.
Now take your toothbrush with the other hand and brush away.
At first, you may look like a rabid dog with a lame leg, but you’ll become more refined at it. Try switching hands to see if that feels more natural to you. Now you’re talking.
Voilà! You’ve just done one small act for the clan and one big service to the planet. If you repeat this hand movement each time you go in and out of the bathroom to brush your teeth you will end up quite satisfied. You have just saved 8 gallons of drinking water (~30.3 litres, hmmm seems a little high but let’s work with it) according to The Daily Green. But the savings don’t stop there. You’re only scratching the surface.
Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? It’s the inspiration behind a movie with the yummy Ashton Kushner (click here). And now for an annotated Wikipedia excerpt…
Butterfly effect: a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system (a system where the output is not proportional to the input, kind of like the way you can gain 10 pounds by eating just one chocolate bar…Crazy eh?) can result in large differences to a later state. The butterfly comes into it as the stimulus with a flick of her wings and this action ripples into a hurricane two weeks later on the other side of the world. Cool. It essentially means that a tiny change in a behaviour, like brushing your teeth for example, can vastly affect an outcome.
OK. Let’s do some simple math.
If there are 4 people in your household who also believe in good hygiene (don’t count teenage boys), then those habitual brushing techniques waste…
32 gallons (~121.2 Litres) per day!
That’s 3-4 times more than a person in sub-Saharan Africa lives on!
Or let’s zoom out to the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) at a population of 5,000,000. Do you really need to see the math? Now add up all the cities in North America. Small is not so small anymore.
But it doesn’t stop there. That little flick of the wrist woke up the monstrous blue-black margarine-fly (don’t believe the ads) called the water-energy nexus. It starts with water extraction (eg. Lake Ontario), then water purification, water pumping, water heating (if cold water makes your teeth scream), sewage collection, and finally sewage treatment. At every point along the way, energy gets sucked up either for the water directly or for further up the chain to make the chemicals needed at the treatment stages.
And then the hurricane forms. The fuel providing the energy also requires water. If it’s hydro, it requires water. If it’s nuclear, it requires water. Even if it’s fossil fuel, it still requires water. If you’re fracking it from shale, water tables are poisoned. If you’re leeching it from tar sands, we’re talking as much as 5 gallons of water used per gallon of bitumen which still needs to be shipped and refined, not to mention the toxic soup left behind.
Geez! All that from one flick of the wrist!
Are you starting to see YOUR impact now? YOUR personal power? What are you waiting for? (I’ll accept “Nothing. I am a Woman Not Waiting”. Sorry. All other answers will doom your blog comment to the gallows).
Our daily routine is full of opportunities to give flight to beautiful bewildering butterflies.
What habits have you found in your day-to-day that you’ve identified and improved? Let’s start a “topical” storm.
Great! What a great blog!
Thanks Nancy. 🙂
Thanks Karen, great info. It is terrific (derived from terror) how much water goes to treatment plants for no reason and providing zero benefit.
No kidding. If everyone implemented a gray water system like you are doing, they would be shocked!