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California is experiencing a severe drought and water
shortage, and everyone around the country is talking about it, except for Californians.
Don't get me wrong, I've known that we've had very little rainfall and that our
water levels are very low. I've seen the photos of dry rivers and graphs
highlighting the areas that are suffering the most. I even had a friend visit
from the East Coast who said he could never live here because it's so dry.
But somehow, the drought just doesn't seem to be in the
faces of Californians the way it needs to be—it's my friends elsewhere in the
country who call me late at night to talk about it. One of them recently
admonished me for flushing the toilet after my son or I pee. When I complained
that I didn't like the odor of urine, he sent me a link to a product that purports
to eliminate the smell.
So, while I don't claim to have all the answers, here
are five simple things I'm doing that others might also do:
1. If it's yellow, let it mellow
Don't flush the toilet unless it has poop in it. That's right, I'm giving into the request of
my friend to stop flushing urine. Each flush uses 3 to 5 gallons of water; a low-flush
toilet uses 2 gallons per flush.
2. Don't run the water
Taking a shower uses gallons upon gallons of water. I can spend upwards of 10 minutes in
the shower; by not allowing the water to run continuously, especially when I'm lathering, at least a portion of
that water gets saved. Another tip is to spend less time in the shower. Bring some music in and track time by counting how many songs play. Aim to get your shower down to the length of one song!
Also, I realize most people have dishwashers
nowadays, but I still wash by hand. My habit is to allow the water to run while
I'm washing in order to rinse the dishes, but from here on out I will wash
dishes without allowing the water to just run freely. The same is true for
brushing my teeth. I will turn off the tap while I'm brushing. (I should have
done this long ago.)
3. Boycott Nestle's water
I rarely purchase bottled water, if ever.
Recently it has become news that the Nestle Corporation is bottling and
exporting water out of California
during this extreme drought. It's not illegal, but it is unconscionable.
4. Reuse cooking water
Instead of pouring leftover water from steaming or boiling vegetables down the drain, we can save it for gravy or soup. You can also use the starch water after boiling pasta or potatoes on plants.
5. Don't eat products that require a great deal of
water to grow
This one is really difficult for me because
I make almond milk and sell it to friends and family. I recently learned that
almond farms use an extraordinary amount
of water. California almonds are one of the state's most profitable crops, and
part of the reason they're so costly is because they require a lot of resources
(particularly water) to grow. On average, organic almonds cost about $13 a
pound at your local health-food store and non-organic cost about half that amount
(still not cheap.) It might also be better to consume less of the products that
use a lot of water, like broccoli, walnuts, lettuce and pistachios, as well as meat and dairy, which have huge water footprints. Knowing the water footprint of your food and choosing, for example, chicken over beef can go a long way.
Unfortunately, the water situation is getting worse every
day, and that means I'm going to have to make some serious changes in my
behavior. If each of us does a small part, it will make a big difference in the
years to come.